Okay, so maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but when I think about the success of the Foster Kitten Cam, it does seem like we’re on the cusp of Total Kitten Domination.
The Foster Kitten Cam was started by John Bartlett, a volunteer for Seattle-based Purrfect Pals. John has fostered over 35 litters of kittens and their Moms to help get them ready for their furrever homes. A few litters ago, he set up a web cam to keep track of the kittens while he was at work. He posted the link on Facebook and Livestream and then the Internet basically exploded. It was pawesome.
Since then, John’s been profiled in everything from People magazine to local newspapers to the Daily Mail in the U.K. Kitten Cam watchers from around the world have donated thousands of dollars to Purrfect Pals. Viewers have sketched and crafted versions of the kittens for sale on eBay (again with proceeds going to Purrfect Pals). Newly adopted kittens and cats are instant Facebook superstars. Ash (pictured above), arguably the most popular kitten in the most recently adopted litter, garnered over 4,200 likes on his Facebook page within two days of his adoption. How many businesses have that kind of fanbase?
The Kitten Cam didn’t go viral because John or Purrfect Pals wanted it to. The Kitten Cam is a social media success story because it fulfills a need in people’s lives. The kittens help viewers get over the recent loss of their own pets or help them cope with stress, loneliness and homesickness. For some people, the kittens just provide hours of cheap, adorable entertainment.
So what can your organization learn from the Kitten Cam?
At first glance, it seems like a 24/7 kitten cam is a no-brainer. Cuteness galore! But kittens sleep 18-20 hours a day. There’s a lot of down time on the Kitten Cam. People don’t care. They want to see everything, edit and watch for themselves. The Kitten Cam is authentic. What’s going to work for your organization is something that’s authentically yours. While we all don’t have the luxury of working with kittens, there’s always going to be something, even for things you may think of as “boring”. For example, an office of tax preparers could set up a way to measure the amount of coffee they go through during tax season and track it online. You could tie that into a contest or a charity and make it something real, fun and relevant to your business. A school district could make a fun video (featuring their business VoIP phones’ call routing features, of course) showing staff reactions to a snow day. One of our current business VoIP customers, Cuddeback Digital keeps galleries of the best customer photos taken by their scouting cameras.
You’re probably not going to create the next Grumpy Cat, or LOL Cats or I Can Has Cheezburger or Chemistry Cats or this video of a cat singing the Game of Thrones theme that has over 2.4 million views (still don’t believe me that the Internet is all about cats?), but you can find a way to use social media in a way that gives something to your customers (even if sometimes it’s just a smile) without sacrificing your business’ identity.