Is this a digital marketing success story or a cautionary tale about not trusting what you see on the internet? Maybe it’s both.
It was recently reported that an ordinary Texas construction worker known only as Omar had racked up 350,000 Instagram followers in a month, just to prove to his daughter that he could. At first, the story seemed to suggest that it’s sometime easy to gain traction as a digital marketing influencer if you set your mind to it.
But there’s a catch. Omar didn’t do it on his own. He arguably didn’t do it at all. The person behind the Instagram account is real enough, but his influencer status was actually the result of a carefully orchestrated digital marketing campaign. Omar was the star of the show, but the show wasn’t about him. His Instagram account was designed to sell coffee.
After struggling to find an influencer to represent the brand, an Austin coffee shop and its digital marketing agency decided to just go out and invent one. They recruited a photogenic, coffee-loving construction worker and set themselves the goal of getting 1,000 followers. You might say their goal turned out to be modest.
But the story gets more interesting. According to its creators, the colossal success of this digital marketing campaign was not entirely self-made. The backstory involving Omar’s daughter was supposedly not part of the plan. The marketing team claims it didn’t set out to deceive anyone. It just wanted to put coffee in Omar’s hand and boost them both on social media.
The real boost came from a social media account claiming to belong to Omar’s daughter. As far as anyone has been able to determine, it was just an attention-grabbing story invented by a random person to get retweets. It worked, and the real beneficiaries were the coffee shop, the newly-created influence, and possibly anyone else he decides to bless with his newfound fame.
There are a lot of lessons that could be taken away from this story. On one hand, the success of this viral marketing campaign has its roots in a unique digital marketing strategy. But on the other hand, that success may not have been nearly as noteworthy if not for the influence of random chance and the whims of an unknown influencer. So perhaps the ultimate lesson is that your own digital marketing campaign should work to create new opportunities while also staying ready to seize the ones that show up unexpected.