Less than two days ago, the word “covfefe” entered the English lexicon. This article isn’t about its origin or imaginary meaning, but how one word triggered hundreds of thousands of responses on social media, by the media, and at water coolers.
A quick search on Google shows 5,830,000 results for a word that didn’t exist until 12:06 EST on May 30, 2017. Ten years ago, even five years ago, how long would it have taken a search engine to crawl the internet and accumulate over five million results?
The mobile word game Words with Friends has already added covfefe to their dictionary, defining the noun as “autocorrect fails you at 3am.” Most major domestic and international news outlets, including CNN. MSNBC, Fox News, The New York Times, Wired, Radio France Internationale, and The Guardian pondered whether covfefe had a hidden meaning or was simply the misspelling of “coverage.”
When the word showed up on Twitter, many companies incorporated it into their tweets, both driving awareness of their brands, and taking advantage of the rarified opportunity to have their tweets folded into the trending hashtag #covfefe. Accompanying these tweets were numerous memes, videos, and other rich content.
And seemingly within hours, companies were offering covfefe-themed shirts, mugs, and consumer items.
What makes covfefe remarkable is the extraordinary ability to break-through the clutter, engaging, provoking, and delighting. It was the go-to topic-of-the-day even though it wasn’t a product, service or even concept. It was simply a fabricated (or badly misspelled) word.
From a marketing point-of-view, covfefe gained traction through social media, interesting people at an emotional level, instigating content creation, which speculated as to how the word could be tied to products and used in conversation. The outcome was measurable, providing insights into sentiment and perceptions.
Every marketer dreams of introducing a new product or elevating an existing one, and instantly gaining instant awareness and adoption. The closest most come to this aspiration is a viral video, meme or GIF that provides several days, and if they’re lucky months, of notoriety.
It’s not easy to generate buzz in a noisy world. But, the wildfire spread of covfefe illustrates how a small, but extremely captivating spark, spread through social media, the web, influencers, and apps, ignited the rapid creation and sharing of content.
Time will tell the longevity of covfefe or whether it’ll fade away like PDAs, Silly Bandz, and soon men’s rompers.