The “Sh*t My Dad Says” novelty has died down in the wake of a moderately successful book and a cancelled TV series
. But we learned that a hilarious Twitter account can have legs that takes it far past its 140-character limit.
There are a few other lessons that marketing and PR pros can take from Justin Halpern, who started tweeting his father’s vulgar advice and opinions in 2009. He continues to this day
, and recently published his second book, I Suck at Girls
But there’s plenty that marketing and PR folks can take from the Sh*t My Dad Says phenomenon:
Don’t overextend your brand.
Some (like Halpern) would look at what became of his Twitter feed and deem it an unmitigated success. He’s now a published author, and he helmed a sitcom based on his father starring William Shatner. At 31, he has a career most writers would envy.
But if you view Sh*t My Dad Says as its own brand, the picture isn’t as sweet. Comedy spawned from a one-joke premise rarely works well. As marketers, we should know our brands well enough to know when to say, “when.”
There’s a reason ESPN-themed restaurants—once ubiquitous in major cities—are down to just a scant few. It’s called overextending the brand, and it’s quite common.
Shareability is the new gold standard.
Sh*t My Dad Says went from being an obscure dude tweeting his dad’s rants to national phenomenon thanks to one word: retweet.
It was perfect and original. The handle was something no one had heard. The content was hysterical. Of course people would retweet it, and keep on retweeting it.
It was such a simple and shareable concept that it spawned—albeit indirectly and years later—a whole genre of grassroots content around shit that different people commonly say.
So what makes something shareable? With Sh*t My Dad Says, shareable means short, funny, and relatable. It’s something you can get behind.
Keep ‘em wanting more.
Once the account gained some notoriety, Halpern was in high demand. Journalists wanted to talk to him to find out whether his dad knew about the account. His followers (which top out now at more than 3 million) anxiously awaited the next tweet.
And yet, rather than send a mildly amusing tweet every day and a very amusing tweet once in a while, Halpern made sure the quality was always high—even if it meant you didn’t hear from the account for several days.
Social should be forethought in campaigns.
You’ve got to hand it to the folks at HarperCollins. The publisher saw in Halpern a built-in, extremely valuable marketing device that companies so seldom neglect. They had to know that when his book was published, a certain percentage of Halpern’s adoring audience would plunk down the $15 to buy the book.
It’s a great example of a marketing campaign that starts with social media, rather than thinks of it as an afterthought.
Companies and brand teams seldom start the social conversation around a new product until well after a launch plan has been established. Social should be at the forefront of such plans—just as it was with Halpern’s first book.