In Marketing Strategy, Social Media

A lot of marketing firms/agencies trumpet the type of social media engagement they can create for their clients through So-Lo-Mo (social, local, mobile) but perhaps they should include the drama effect as “Dra.” I still love the word social-verse, but I’m christening the term “drama-sphere” to describe the passionate online debates around phenomena like the Left Shark and The Dress.

Why do you want to be remembered in the drama-sphere? Because it is the stickiest place to hang out on the net and it is increasingly driven by mobile, which loves short, visual, bursts of communication with a point of view.

1) The conflict is simple

The Dress Debate Kim Kardashian Kanye WestWhat color is The Dress? I see white and gold, Kanye sees black and blue but maybe he’s colorblind. Left Shark hit the choreography or missed it in front of 114 million Super Bowl viewers.

Social media engagement in the drama-sphere requires creating a debate that’s simple enough for people to formulate a strong opinion about without needing much information. Bonus points if it has a call to action (BTW, drama in Greek means action).

2) The story has two sides

Team Left Shark Katy PerryThere is no Left Shark without Right Shark. Katy Perry’s uncoordinated backup dancer would never have shot to stardom if we couldn’t argue which dancing shark was more entertaining. The Dress only went viral because of the two completely different ways people saw it.

When you ask audiences to pick sides, you’re creating a natural point of discussion for social media engagement, to help fire up the drama-sphere.

3) The evidence is visual

Whether people are browsing social media on their phones at home or their computers at work, the evidence at the heart of the story needs to be very visual in order to grab their attention. Even Twitter has finally acknowledged this and has been working to incorporate more images into feeds and profiles.

4) The debate is real

No one would ever believe that Katy Perry planned the failed choreography of Left Shark, or that Kim and Kayne had an insight into the complexities of the neuropsychology of vision and then decided to fake an argument about The Dress. The sources of these debates might be trivial, but when people take sides they have very real opinions, and that passion is crucial.

5) The social media engagement is with everyone

The best material for the drama-sphere shares a connection with the everyman/woman. As the debate about The Dress raged across the internet, Kim and Kanye asked us to join in their conversation where all opinions were valid. We love Left Shark because he was struggling to do his best in a carefully staged halftime show, exposing our imperfect humanity perfectly. This is social media engagement that everyone can participate in.


So what does this tell us about how to market products, services, shows, etc.? Cultivate drama if it is positive – if you are lucky enough to have two or more positive points of view about your product, air them out and by casting the widest net grow your potential audience.

Empire TV Show FoxA great example is on the second screen behaviors of TV shows like “Empire” where the marketers at Fox have inspired their fans to celebrate the highly polarized characters they love by joining in teams named #TeamCookie and #TeamLucious. According to Variety, this buzz has helped propel the show to:

The highest average number of tweets per episode during its live airings (381,770) than any other broadcast drama this season — overtaking ABC’s “Scandal” (355,012).

Classic Miller Lite CommercialThe 5 keys have been used in numerous advertising campaigns to promote two non-competing, mutually exclusive brand promises and make them memorable by having them embodied in everyman characters. The classic example is Miller Lite Beer’s “Great Taste” versus “Less Filling” campaign that paraded a series of everyman characters across the screen weighing in on an unanswerable debate that we couldn’t help but remember.

Today we demand more authenticity in the visions, millennials in particular, but the construct still holds. What matters is that the audience is invited into a conversation with relatable differing points of view – it doesn’t hurt Kim’s brand that the dress is actually blue and black because millions of people got to take her side. And when it comes to being remembered, the unforgettable Left Shark taught us that in earned media, sometimes it’s better not to be right.

David Spitzer is CEO of Upper Diamond, a marketing and communication production company. If you want to engage in a conversation about the strategy around a campaign, or build some amazing assets, we’re low-drama people who are experts in social, local, mobile and the drama-sphere.

Check out our recent article 5 Marketing Tips You Can Use From the Oscars, or find out more about us at

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