Weird Al Knows How To Stay Relevant In The Digital Age

weird-al-mandatory-funIn a world where everyone is competing for attention via whatever screen happens to be in front of your eyes at the time, it may not always be that easy to get people to pay attention. Add to that, being a musical genius, but to a relatively niche audience, that’s been in the game for over 30 years. How do you get people to pay attention?

Well, if you’re Weird Al Yankovic, you go on a musical marathon across the web.

Last Tuesday, Weird Al, the king of the parody song, released his latest album entitled Mandatory Fun. But rather than let the record companies release one song as a single and handle the promotion, Al took matters into his own hands to make sure that his new songs spread across people’s computer screens.

Weird Al did a promo for his latest album by releasing a music video a day for songs from the album that was aptly called #8videos8days. Every day for 8 days a new Weird Al music video appeared online, but always in a different place, which really added to the genius of this promotion.

Weird Al is no stranger to stirring up attention when he has a new album release. Dating all the back to 1984, Weird Al would go on TV stations that played music videos (back then being MTV and Much Music in North America) and take them over for a few hours at a time with what he called Al TV.

But today, there’s no real music channels left on TV as people have switched their focus to watching more and more things online. Especially music videos. So, in true fashion of understanding his audience and today’s youth, Al took things online as well.

Weird Al teamed up with some of the most trafficked websites that show videos, with a focus on sites that show humour videos, and released a video a day across these networks. Some of the websites that Al enlisted for help include popular humour video sites like Funny Or Die and College Humour, but also video networks with a bit more of a spread than just funny videos like Yahoo! Screen,  Nerdist and even the Wall Street Journal.

By doing this, not only did Weird Al get to promote himself across a wide variety of channels that could offer him different kinds of exposure, but each website where he released his videos promoted Al as well by being able to say “this video is exclusive to our site.”

Then, to tie all of the sites and work together, Weird Al promoted the whole thing with the hashtag #8videos8days so that those that were interested just needed to search for that hashtag to find where the video of the day was being posted.

The whole thing was rather genius.

So, how did the whole thing work out? We took to MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics software, to quickly check.

A search for mentions of Weird Al or his Twitter handle @alyankovic over the 8 days of his promo (July 14-21) show that he was mentioned in over 287,000 social conversations. We found Weird Al being talked about in 3,301 blog posts, 3,513 online news articles, 26,621 forum postings and 254,008 tweets.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary

Now, these aren’t the same numbers as you’d see when Beyonce releases an album, but they’re still quite impressive for an artist who falls into a very niche category.

The idea was to get people interested in Weird Al again, and it seemed to work. On top of all those mentions he received over those 8 days, it was also impressive to see the interest rise around the world. Below is a geo-location heat map that shows where tweets about Weird Al were coming from, and they were coming from everywhere.

Sysomos MAP - Geo-Location Heat Map of Tweets

Weird Al has always seemed to be a master of promoting himself and we think that he’s brought that mastery into the digital age for his latest album.

What can you learn from him? Know where your audience spends their time online. Learn to diversify and don’t spend all your energy on one channel when you can cover many that actually make sense to target. And most importantly, do something interesting that will grab your audience’s attention.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

And, if you want to see all 8 of Weird Al’s new videos you can view them on his official webiste, but here’s our personal favourite in which he parodies Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines to call out how people butcher the English language (which we run into a lot as we spend a great deal of time in social media and it drives some of us crazy):