If you regularly keep up with viral trends, chances are you'll recognise the photo above, or have at least seen one similar over the last few weeks. Photos such as these which featured normal people being scared out of their wits at a haunted house were circulating the web over the last few weeks. Their popularity growing so much that they were covered by a multitude of media outlets across the world, including The Huffington Post, Yahoo! and The Daily Mail based in the UK.
All of this was part of a social media campaign from Nightmares Fear Factory, a walk-through haunted house located near the Niagara Falls in Canada. It describes itself as 'the world's most frightening experience,' to the point where it has over 112,000 people on its 'chicken list,' a list containing those who were too afraid to make it through to the end.
Through their social media campaign, the business gained a huge amount of publicity and coverage worldwide with their web traffic increasing by 10,000 per cent, but how did a haunted house gain such coverage?
As with all good campaigns, it starts with a simple idea. Nightmares Fear Factory wanted to do something different for their Halloween campaign, and so decided to take photos of people's reactions at the scariest parts of their house. They then uploaded the best photos onto their Flickr and Facebook channels for people to view, by making their contents public and placing them on a medium that's instantly shareable.
Because of the obvious comedy and how shareable these images were, the business experienced a massive boost in popularity. Their director of sales and marketing Vee Popat described how their campaign went viral and how it greatly exceeded their expectations:
"It started on Thursday, October 6, 2011. By 1:00 p.m, we noticed we were at twice the normal daily traffic on our website and by the end of the day, traffic increased by over 10,000 percent! I credit the spike to the power of social media. The activity sizably increased engagement on our social platforms Flickr, Facebook, Youtube and Twitter, and our website temporarily crashed; going from approximately 600 visits per day to over 60,000 unique visits in less than 24 hours.â€
As mentioned earlier, the major gain was the huge increase in web traffic. However, not only did their main web page gain a massive boost in traffic, but so did their social media pages. For example, the number of views on their Flickr photostream went from just 50 to over 3 million, while the number of fans on their Facebook page went up from 3,000 to 13,000.
Apart from the obvious fun of looking and sharing the shocked expressions of these visitors, their social media activity played a huge part in getting the word out there. Since they were uploaded on Facebook, it automatically meant that people could be tagged on the photos, meaning that the photos could be shared for others to view who would then share them again.
The result was a truly impressive campaign that had everything a good social media campaign should have: a theme, ability to share, something that everyone can relate to and some humour thrown in for good measure.
Making the most of a unique market and tapping into the humour of their images meant that the social media campaign was a massive success. While not all businesses can do the same things they did (scaring your customers and taking photos of their expressions sadly doesn't work for all businesses), it does prove that if you work to your strengths and tap into those areas that are different or humorous, you can create a successful social media campaign.