13/03/2013 Matt Horne

How I learned to love The Harlem Shake

Of all the internet memes out there, The Harlem Shake has to be one of the fastest growing and most annoying in a long time.

It has became so ubiquitous in its short life that the only thing on the planet not to have heard of it is that tiny bit of bacteria Russian scientists have discovered under Antarctica.

The premise is simple:

  1. The sound track to all the videos is the god awful dance track The Harlem Shake by New York producer Baauer
  2. For the first 15 seconds of the video one person puts on a helmet and does a stupid dance in front of people that couldn’t care less
  3. When the drop comes, it all goes bat shit crazy
  4. At the end of the video YouTube recommends you watch one of the 4 million other Harlem Shake videos it hosts

I had a meeting two weeks ago where somebody said “Why don’t we make a Harlem Shake video? That would be cool!” My heart sank. Not only had they used the word cool in a meeting but by this time the meme had been around for about three weeks. It had featured on breakfast television, local newspaper websites had written stories about care homes getting involved and on the internet time line was basically pre-historic. It was in my eyes, no longer relevant.

Now I didn’t want to crush the person’s enthusiasm for having fun, I just didn’t want to ruin my own self defined sense of internet cool. I also did not want to have to make four videos, one for each campus. But it ended up being one of the best things I did all week.

You see, although I and most of the other internet nerds had long got bored of Harlem Shake videos, the vast majority of the public had yet to reach that enui. I was even more astounded to find out that four weeks in to the meme, friends and family had yet to watch a single video of the “dance”!

When you combine these points with the fact college kids love to show off to their mates, the videos I filmed, edited and uploaded ended up breaking all records for the college’s online video content.

  • All four are currently the most watched videos on their Youtube channel, surpassing all the expensive professional videos they’ve had produced.
  • Since uploading their Youtube channel has increased subscribers by 20%
  • Thanks to the voting mechanism I created for the videos on their Facebook page, they’ve seen their engagement and fans increase too!

Which all goes to show – never under estimate the power of jumping on a month old meme to help increase your social profile.

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Matt Horne

Freelance digital marketing and social media consultant dedicated to making your internet awesome.