By now, most of us have seen it – the giddy, joyful video of Candace Payne, now known as “Chewbacca Mom,” showing off her new Chewbacca mask, giggling like crazy. The Chewbacca Mom Facebook Live video has received over 137 million views as of the writing of this post. It’s a viral video phenomenon, which most businesses are desperate to achieve.
Haven’t seen it yet? Here it is:
The video has gone crazy, obviously. Since the video appeared on Facebook and receive so much attention, both Kohl’s and Hasbro have anted up with mad gifts. She’s appeared on Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, and Late Night with James Corydon, where she found out that Peter Mayhew, the real Chewbacca, wanted to meet her, and she even made a video with JJ Abrams.
At the bare minimum, these videos are all great for a laugh, and frankly, just kind of lovely, so I highly recommend that you watch them for a moment of levity in your day.
But you know we’re all about business around here, So what can businesses learn from Chewbacca Mom?
Chewbacca Mom’s Back Story
Candace Payne went into Kohl’s to make a return, and since she had store credit, decided to try find yoga pants because she’s been trying to exercise more. After a discouraging hunt, Candace found herself wandering down the toy aisle instead – how many of us have had that experience, right? Apparently, her shoulder bumped one of those Chewbacca masks and it protested…which led to the momentous video, made in the car, to try to ensure that her family and friends knew that the Chewbacca mask was hers and did not belong to the kids.
What Makes the Chewbacca Mom Viral Video Amazing
What makes this viral video so amazing is its honesty. This is a woman who is giddy with joy over a simple thing. She found something that gave her a moment of profound happiness, something that elicited that deep, laugh-so-hard-you-think-you-just-might-die, stomach-hurting case of the giggles, and captured it on camera with absolute abandon.
And while I believe that every day, even the worst ones, has a moment of joy (I’m a silver lining kind of woman), moments of pure joy with that kind of laughter that makes you think you just did several sets of ab crunches are rare.
The fantastic thing about the Chewbacca Mom video is that Candace’s laughter is so contagious. And let’s be honest – she reminds many of us of ourselves. When I heard that Candace was hunting for yoga pants and found the experience discouraging, I thought, “Girl, thank you. Yes.” I can’t even tell you how many times that exact same hunt has made me feel horrible and in desperate need of a laugh. She’s honest, she’s relatable, and her laughter is contagious because it’s so real. It’s a trifecta of virality.
Here’s What You Can Learn From Chewbacca Mom
Here’s the problem: we’re about to see a ton of copycats. We’re about to see individuals trying to be Chewbacca Mom, all missing the entire point: what makes Chewbacca Mom great is that she wasn’t actually trying to be anything other than herself. Candace Payne was just being herself, authentic and true, and if you’re trying to be her or if you’re trying to emulate her video or her success, then it isn’t real.
Be Real – Authentically You
Instead of trying to be Chewbacca Mom, or instead of trying to be her, be you. Be you, through and through, authentic and honest. Don’t try to be anyone else. Know that being you is enough.
You might not be like Chewbacca Mom. You might not have an infectious laugh. But there’s undoubtedly something else about you that’s special and all your own. You don’t have to be anyone but you.
Today we live in a world of scripted reality shows and Photoshopped selfies. Let’s stop being inauthentic and just be real.
Know Your Brand
As a business, look carefully at your brand and ensure that your marketing is always 100% true to who you are as a brand. You don’t have to try to be anyone else. You don’t even have to be like anyone else. Be you.
Candace Payne’s brand is about spreading joy – what’s your brand about? Are you spreading hope? Making friendships possible?
The Business in Blue Jeans brand is about independence and freedom. This is the video we had made for the book, Business in Blue Jeans, and it is the message that I wanted to spread to the world:
My book trailer video didn’t go viral. I’m okay with that. Because what matters most to me is that even though we made this video awhile back, it still makes me smile every time I see it. It still represents everything I believe in and everything I wanted my brand to be about.
What do you want your brand to be about? What do you want it to stand for?
Don’t Try to Create a Viral Video
From time to time, we get emails from potential clients who say, “We need help creating a viral video.” Those emails always make me laugh, because while it’s great to ask for help in brainstorming ideas for videos that have the potential to be viral, saying, “I am going to create a viral video,” is laughable at best. You can certainly hope that a video you create goes viral, but the truth is, we don’t always know exactly why a video goes viral.
There are common adjectives that can be applied to videos that go viral. Words like surprising, funny, cute, authentic, touching, and shocking tend to come up. But you’ll frequently find outliers that don’t fit any of these categories, and then we wonder, “What made this video special?” That’s always the question that we marketers are asking ourselves as we analyze what makes a video go viral.
My point is, stop trying to be famous or viral and start focusing on being real and honest with the folks who are already following you. Focus on building connection and relationship – that is the heart of content marketing today, and the one thing more businesses miss than anything else.
A Side Note to the World: Please Let Candace Be Candace
I understand that Candace is now fielding deals to monetize the Chewbacca Mom video, and I say, “More power to her.” But my greatest fear for Candace is that we’ll see businesses go after Candace to try their products, trying to elicit her delightful laughter. People will expect her to laugh on-demand, and if she’s not careful, this whole Chewbacca Mom thing will become the antithesis of what made it great: it’ll become forced.
I hope we see more from her, but I hope it remains authentic and real.
So what can you learn from Chewbacca Mom? The only thing that’s important: authenticitity.