Cher Lloyd on the X Factor, The Viral Effect & the Future of Digital PR…

Right, you may hate the X Factor, you may hate Cher Lloyd, you may now hate me for writing about this. But, if you’ve got this far then hear me out…

Saturday night saw a young girl by the name of Cher Lloyd audition on the hugely popular show the X Factor, as hundreds of them have already done before her. She approached the stage, visibly nervous and rather oddly dressed and blew the crowd away belting out Keri Hilson’s version of US rapper Soulja Boy’s ‘Turn my swag on’ (yes, I have no idea what this means either…). Now listen up, you may hate the manufactured band scene or Simon Cowell’s ridiculous hair but this girl from Malvern, Cher Lloyd, is 16 years old and has the attitude of Beyonce.

The interesting aspect of this video is how it has taken off on a viral basis. The BBC reported that this years X Factor opened with 11.1 million viewers, a significant proportion of the population in the UK, and it is one of the most well known and highest viewed programs on UK TV. For Cher Lloyd to appear for just 5 minutes on the Saturday night show, whilst they are still in auditions, and not only appear in her very own This Morning interview by Monday, but also rack up a rapidly rising view count of her audition video (rocketing from 700,000 to well over 1.5 million in the last 24 hours). This harks back to the ‘Susan Boyle effect’ that we seem to now experience more and more often in our lives, a sign that the shareability of content is proliferating to such an extent that every second [not hour or day, as it once was] is essential for creating buzz and should be a real lesson for the PR agencies, especially when looking towards the future…

Even though the viral figures, such as the amount of times it has been ‘shared’ on Facebook, for Cher Lloyd’s audition were only picked up today (and therefore may be a little ropey) they’re already showing that it has attracted nearly 7,000 comments and has been shared on Facebook over 11,000 times; all in less than 72 hours since it first aired on TV! I agree, this doesn’t (and probably now won’t) match up to Susan Boyle’s audition video viral success seen last year, but in my opinion, there are two lessons to be learned here:

  1. Buzz is now generated at a much faster rate than it has ever been before. PR and buzz monitoring agencies should now deal in minutes, not hours and days.
  2. The ‘net genners’ are leading the way in sharing content, which in itself is an incredibly powerful tool, not only gaining the potential to increase brand awareness and raise profile but, as we can see in this and Susan Boyle’s case, creating careers; even if they don’t last that long…