#TheDress: How Companies Can Ride on the Coattails of a Viral Hashtag

This kind of opportunity doesn’t come along too often: a viral hashtag that has millions of people around the world up in arms about the issue. People are passionately taking sides, in utter disbelief at a different opinion, and are actively sending their friends and family photos of the dress and articles that weigh in on what’s happening here. Tensions are high, and people are taking to social media to proclaim that they are clearly right, and who in the right mind would think otherwise?! Are they colorblind, or just flat out blind? It’s amusing, curious, and mind-blowing for some, like me who watched the colors changed right in front of their eyes. All over the color of a dress. Because the issue is trending, a top conversation topic off and online, and it is of a lighthearted, non controversial topic, it is the perfect opportunity for brands to ride on the coattails of this viral hashtag to get more eyeballs on their company.

Buzzfeed had over 25 million views on 1 article in 1 day: a truly shocking feat. They have since published at least 6 more articles, and people are viewing. The Wall Street Journal and other more serious news magazines also got in on the action, with a more scientific take.

wsj tweet

Kia was one of the many brands that acted quickly, coming up with a clever campaign that poked fun at the viral post.

kia tweet about the dress
gogo squeez tweet
crocs with different colors
tj max bags
lego women

The most popular way that companies jumped on the trending hashtag to their advantage is to tie in their product to the dress in a humorous way, such as 2 Lego dresses in the respective colors. People on Twitter love to favorite and retweet things that are funny and that they can relate to. Twitter users from all over the world are checking out the stream of posts with #TheDress, so your company can spread brand awareness in a playful way, and have the Twitter audience do the sharing for you.

Some companies use the hashtag to draw attention attention to an unrelated topic.

country music assoc tweet

What works the best on Twitter? Posts that have images (uploaded directly through Twitter, not including Instagram or Facebook link) are almost twice as likely to be retweeted. Length is an important consideration as well, especially considering that Tweets must be shorter than 140 characters. Shorten long links with link shorteners, and keep in mind that Tweets shorter than 100 characters get a 17% higher engagement rate. Ride the trend, keep the content fresh and sharable, recognize best practices, and hang onto viral hashtags. Enjoy the ride!

Vote on what color you think the dress is and see how you compare with others!

This article is originally published on Feb 27, 2015, and updated on Feb 17, 2020
An avid writer, she has contributed to sites including Entrepreneur and Social Media Today. A Bostonian and University of Miami alum, she loves traveling, trying new foods, and drawing & crafting.

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