RED PANDAMONIUM, am I right?
For two and a half hours on Monday, the Twitterverse held its breath—while feverishly typing in 140 characters—about the escape of the National Zoo’s red panda, Rusty.
How feverishly, you may wonder? A tweet sent out by the National Zoo at 11:51 a.m. was retweeted 3,572 times. On a day with an important Supreme Court ruling, a dropping Dow, a fleeing fugitive, and a Texas filibuster on an abortion bill, the red panda story stole the spotlight.
As the New York Times put it, “To help find Rusty, a raccoon-size mammal with a striped tail and moon-shaped face, the zoo turned to social media, and suddenly half of official Washington broke from Serious Events to tune in to the saga of the runaway panda.”
By midday, mentions of “Rusty” on Twitter were nearly as high as “Obama.” Thousands of tweets were dedicated to the runaway furry friend. Approximately 15 parody Twitter handles popped up tweeting from the perspective of the escaped red panda.
At 2:22 p.m., the National Zoo tweeted that Rusty had been recovered, which was then retweeted nearly 1,500 times. Even after he was found, the Internet continued to focus on Rusty, with continuous tweets about Rusty, memes making jokes about his escape, and BuzzFeed posts about red pandas.
In an era where cute animal memes and gifs seemingly reign king on the Internet, it’s easy to see how Rusty swept up social media numbers. Red panda-related articles jump with views, while some news articles about serious current events, or press releases about brands, were swept under the rug. There is something that brands can learn from this: The social media audience connects to the emotional.
Brands don’t have to tie their writings to red pandas—not that it would hurt—but something that makes a reader laugh, frown, reminisce or say “aw” will travel a lot further than something that falls flat emotionally.
By Mary Morgan