/// Are There Any Lessons To Be Learned From The Viral Success of The Bronx Zoo’s Cobra?

March 31, 2011  |  Blog

Are There Any Lessons To Be Learned From The Viral Success of The Bronx Zoo’s Cobra?

It might seem a little odd to take marketing tips from a talking snake, but the appearance of the Bronx Zoo’s Cobra on Twitter shows that there is huge potential to develop viral accounts on the microblogging platform. The spoof account was created following the news that a venomous cobra had escaped from its enclosure at the Bronx Zoo in New York. Though the actual snake was finally captured today, his internet counterpart is enjoying unprecedented fame with almost 200,000 followers on Twitter and rumors circulating that it is set to host an episode of Saturday Night Live. Yes, for real.

So what can advertisers and digital marketers learn from the success of the Bronx Zoo’s Cobra? For one thing, people seem to love an animal with a sense of humor. It’s not like using a talking reptile would be anything ground breaking from a marketing perspective – it seems to be Geico’s go-to advertising strategy – but the sheer speed at which this Twitter account went viral will have many brands trying to emulate that success.

The sheer hilarity behind some of the tweets – such as “Does anyone know if the Whole Foods in Columbus Circle sells organic mice?” – is a huge contributing factor to the snake’s popularity. But another thing that is immediately evident when looking at its tweets is that it mentions a lot of New York businesses and locations; “Got a bagel at H & H Bagels on upper west side. When I ordered I said, “I’ll have the snakes on a PLAIN.” He did not laugh. Tough crowd.” It also makes sure to capitalize on other topics that are trending right now, with plenty of @CharlieSheen tags being posted!

So is it as simple as that? Create a talking animal of some sort, have a comedian on hand to write the tweets, and mention some things that are relevant to your audience? Well, it would be a start, but the Bronx Zoo Cobra case seems to be the perfect storm of internet-based media, latching on to a news story that had already captured the interest of the nation and using it to develop an unprecedented viral success.

It was also interesting to note that the story of the anthropomorphic snake wasn’t restricted to the internet. It is perhaps indicative of the increasing levels of crossover between the two mediums that the story was quickly picked up by the major TV networks which caused the story to balloon even further. The snake itself certainly doesn’t shy away from self-promotion; “Snake accessible! RT @TheEllenShow. Hey @BronxZoosCobracheck the Guggenheim they’ve a great Kandinsky exhibit, also don’t have any stairs.”

No doubt the next time a light-hearted human interest story makes the national news there will be a whole host of marketing departments around the country trying to exploit it by creating their own version of the Bronx Zoo’s Cobra. With the right mix of comedic timing, relevance and public awareness, this case proves that the potential to develop a viral marketing success story via Twitter is huge.

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