#TeamFiona

Who Said Hippos Aren’t Cute?

Starting with a Tragedy

The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden was not the place to be in May of 2016. You may have heard of an incident involving a young boy and an unsuspecting gorilla named Harambe. On May 28th, 2016, a three-year-old boy fell into the shallow moat at the Gorilla World habitat. Zookeepers called for the three gorillas, in which two responded. Harambe, the only male, did not respond. This gorilla went into the moat, dragged, propped up, and strutted around the boy. When Harambe brought the boy out up onto dry land the zoo officials shot and killed the gorilla. The boy was fine other than minor injuries.

The fallout was beyond anything the zoo or anyone could have ever imagined. There were protests, picketing, national and international news agencies surrounding the zoo, social media outcries, countless Internet memes, t-shirts, trending hashtags, and vigils were held outside the zoo. For a time, the zoo had to shut down its Twitter account because of so many memes, attacks, and even threats.

Harambe would continue to dominate the media into the presidential election where over 11,000 votes were cast for the gorilla on November 8th, 2016. A Google search for the word, “Harambe,” brings up a picture of the gorilla and thousands of articles detailing the incident.

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Born Six Weeks Early and Internet Darling

Fiona, a Nile Hippopotamus, was born six weeks early on January 24th, 2017, at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. She weighed only 27 pounds. Healthy hippos are born between 55-120 pounds. The zoo staff did everything they could including bringing in a special team of nurses from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to place an IV tube in Fiona.  What happened next surprised the city and shocked the world.

This little hippo stabilized and recovered. At first, it was a long and hard battle for her to breathe, but she did it. Later, she learned to eat and became strong enough to walk. By March 2017, she learned to swim and gained nearly 50 pounds.

For every pound Fiona gained in weight, she gained more followers as well. The Internet and news outlets exploded with coverage over this little hippo’s progress. There was a daily column in a local newspaper along with local television coverage. The zoo’s social media came back to life, although they reactivated Twitter before the hippo’s premature birth. The zoo’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms are updated several times a day with hashtags such as #fionafix and #TeamFiona were trending. Multiple pictures and videos of Fiona swimming, eating or meeting her parents are likely to appear once or twelve times on anyone’s daily newsfeed.

Social Media Reborn

The zoo reactivated its Twitter account in October of 2016, which was two months before Fiona was born. The zoo’s following has skyrocketed from 97-thousand followers in October of 2016 to over 115-thousand, two months after Fiona was born. Correlation is not always causation; however, looking at the zoo’s account, one in every three or four tweets is about Fiona. There are thousands of animals at the zoo and even more plants, but at least one-quarter to one-third of the time the tweets are about the city’s, and maybe America’s, favorite little hippo.

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It also appears that attacks on the zoo and negative news coverage concerning the death of Harambe have now been forgotten. The focus is now on Fiona. People flood to their social media streams for #fionafix and #TeamFiona. I’m one of them.

The Takeaways

Be consistent in your posts, post relevant content, and, most of all, give your following more value than you receive. The zoo posts pictures and updates of Fiona without asking for a penny. They do it because it brings awareness. Zoo officials know that if they can provide enough value digitally, people will come to the zoo physically to see the pictures in real life. If you can analyze what you have to offer in your business and realize the best method of telling your audience about it without their knowing that you’re selling, then you have won the game of content marketing

Until tomorrow.

Thank you for reading this installment of Daily Download. Please like, share on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. You can follow me, Ryan A. Ross, on Twitter @ryanthebossross and follow Rae Publishing on Twitter and on Facebook @raepublishing. Don’t forget to check out the archives. There’s a lot of great stuff including Wednesday Writer’s Workshop and Friday Fiction Breakdown. If you have a topic you would like to see appear on the Daily Download, please email me.

The question of the day: What’s another media bounce back you can think of?

Featured Image Credit: http://www.nbclosangeles.com/multimedia/Hippo-Fiona-Cincinnati-Zoo-Healing-first-Steps-412960003.html

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