The Shiny New Toy You Don’t Want to Play With

We’ve all been there. Your boss, colleague, or client sees something go viral online and wants the same results. They burst in and, full of energy, make the request for you to drop everything and get on it. Whatever it was it was a huge success and now they want you to replicate it because their product, program, or mission is just as worthy of similar accolades.

Usually this is referred to as “Shiny New Toy Syndrome” and it can involve anything from making a video to joining a new social media platform, as long as it was a hit for someone.

Take for instance, the viral success of the band The xx. After hitting it big with word of mouth marketing when they launched their first album they worked to recreate that buzz. One week prior to releasing their second album, Coexist, they chose one super fan and shared a website with that person. The site had a stream of their new album and within 24 hours the site crashed due to millions of hits.

As part of this success, The xx teamed up with Microsoft so that the site would interactively show how the album was being shared across the globe. The effect looked much like airline patterns.


Now we all know that if it was that easy to create a viral hit we would be doing it. Let’s take a look at what The xx had to play with from their history as well as their partnership with Microsoft. These points are aimed at your organization to see if you could replicate the band’s success. If you can check off most of these, then you may have a shot:

1. You are currently successful
2. You have something worth sharing
3. You have a specific audience prone to sharing
4. You can share your product for free for a limited time
5. You have someone who can design a really cool site to map and encourage sharing
6. You have cultivated an attitude of sharing among your audience for several years

oh, and

7. You are rock stars (this is very important)

Since most of us are not rock stars with free music to give away for a week to a cultivated audience let’s see how we can approach the request that landed on our desk.

It is important to understand that most of the time the request is coming from a supposed need that is going unfulfilled. These requests are actually Band-Aids that are being pushed because someone perceives a lack of success somewhere in the organization. It could be that your organization’s program is not seen as topical or your company’s product wasn’t being talked about at the fundraiser your CEO attended the night before. The idea could have even been sparked over breakfast when a VP’s kid shared that latest trend at school.

Don’t get me wrong. Some of these ideas are great and will highlight a rut the organization has been stuck in or a lack of thinking “outside of the box”. Either way you need to take a long look at the root of the request and uncover the root of the problem. Only then can you move the conversation away from that shiny new toy you are desperately trying to hide under your stacks of work.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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