Thursday, March 18, 2010

What Business Can Learn from Trololo

I normally save the "fun" stuff for my other blog, keeping this one focused on online business and the more professional side of me. But today, we have attained crossover. Yes, the web is often a silly place. But the story I'm about to tell shows how silly can lead to something more meaningful. Though I'm a big fan of silly for silly's sake.

In 1966, Russian singer Eduard Khil preformed1 a lyrics-less tune on Soviet television. The tune goes by the unfortunate name of I 'm So Pleased As I'm Finally Returning Home. The lyrics, according to Blippiit, were considered anti-Soviet and had to be removed. Ah, repression.

Then time passes. About 44 years worth of time, actually. Due to the unaccountable weirdness that often is the internet, Eduard's performance surfaced on YouTube and has amassed well over 3 million views. So far. It's been seen on network television. It's been parodied by late night television. And the song with the horribly long name has now become the internet meme Trololo.

Normally, that's where the story would end. Yet another short-lived curiosity of the web, waiting to be overtaken by what's next.

But it turns out that Eduard is still very much alive and kicking. When he found out about his new internet fame, his reaction wasn't what you might expect from a man who's probably pushing 80. He got it. From what I've seen, he got it immediately. And he reached out in kind using the same medium that propelled him to this new-found fame in attempt to push the meme even further. Not with more silly parody skits. Not with a re-enactment. And certainly not with a "Ah, you silly Americans. You buy my music, yes?" request.

Eduard is encouraging others -- anyone, really -- around the world to add to the song. To use the collective connected world to add their own lyrics. To develop and broadcast live a new imagining of the song for 2010. That. Is. Cool! that is... remarkable.



What Trololo can teach businesses, organizations and entrepreneurs
  • Embrace the silly. Some things you just can't plan for. No one could have predicted that YouTube would cause a 44-year-old video to find fresh legs, travel around the world and (potentially) spawn something new.

  • YouTube's captioning of videos is ground breaking. And not just for foreign language content. It's easy. It's powerful. I'm of the mind that you should probably caption every video where the words are an important part of a message. How-to, interviews... all of it!

  • Engage and trust your audience. Eduard is one person. But hundreds or maybe even thousands of people will want to jump in and help with the next stage of this. Sure, there will probably be spoilers in there. But they'll quickly be out-voiced by true supporters. Eduard probably doesn't have a product to sell, a message to spread or a brand to boost. But you do. Do you encourage your current customers/supporters/fans to get involved. Why not?


Turn and face the strange. Ch-ch-changes. Are you paying attention yet?

1 - OK, so it was probably lip-synched. So what? The man is a born performer!

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