Six Ways Target Could Respond to the #AlexFromTarget Trend

Imagine that you’re a typical high schooler. You throw on your red team t-shirt and khakis and go to work on a Sunday like any other teen in America. You’d like to maybe get enough gas money to go out and be a clown on Friday night with the rest of your friends.Instead you come home and open your Twitter and find that not only is your name trending, but thousands of people have made creations and memes with your likeness.

Such is the case for one, Alex from Target, better known now as #AlexfromTarget. What started with a simple photo being shared has now turned into an internet sensation. Here are just a few facts:

  • #AlexFromTarget has received more than 1.2 Million tweets since Sunday
  • It was trending on Twitter for at least 30 hours straight in some way shape or form
  • It has trended on Twitter, Vine, Google+, and Tumblr (thanks to Andrea Lopez aka BlueChooChoo for her work)
  • Alex (the real #AlexfromTarget) has gain more than 500,000 followers overnight

What the world is trying to figure out today is “how the heck does a random kid go viral overnight?”

I’d chalk this one up to another one of those silly internet games that we play these days. The person credited with starting the meme has quite a few followers, so when more and more people felt compelled to share this idea, it morphed and turned into something bigger than it started.

Call it the Bill Brasky effect if you will.

Bill Brasky was a Saturday Night Live skit where four businessmen are at  bar drinking and telling the more outrageous tales of one companion, Bill Brasky. The stories get progressively more outlandish and unbelievable and they eventually bring in another person at the bar because of the ripple effect.

Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 3.21.46 AM

Teen influence on Twitter is becoming more and prominent, at least from my personal observations. Regularly around 3-4pm you can see trends online shift from news, world and sports to more fun and entertainment topics.

Target should take advantage of this and have a laugh with their customers.

In a statement to Mashable’s Laura Vitto, Target said:

“..Imagine our surprise yesterday when one of our Target team members managed to flood the Internet with images of red and khaki without even trying. We are proud to have a great team, including #AlexFromTarget, and are in contact with his store and family.”

So when they do get in contact with his store and family (which presumably isn’t hard because they’re a multi-national corporation with an employee database of around 300,000) what should they do with him?

Is he instantly employee of the month? Well duh. But where do you go from there? I pulled together some quick ideas on things Target might consider:

1. Run a series of posts that play up the #AlexFromTarget Meme

There have already been a number of really funny posts about #AlexFromTarget that came right from the audience. Why not take the best suggestions and remake them with Alex and share them from the @Target Twitter account?

2. Put him in their holiday advertising

Imagine teens’ faces when they open up their mailbox and see this internet meme Alex staring back at them. Not only will they die laughing, but best believe they’re going to share that image online again and again.

3. Release a limited edition giftcard

What if Target were to release a gift card with #AlexFromTarget on it? Sounds crazy but who knows how many giftcards might be sold as gifts from one friend to another online.

4. Put him on Vine or Snapchat

Alex is a teen idol for the moment. How great would it be to see these memes come to life while Alex is on the job. Send a crew of producers to his store and film some funny memes with him throughout Target, taking ideas from fans. Allow people to ask him questions and

5. Ask Me Anything

Let Alex takeover the @Target account and have some fun with it. I’m sure this might be unnerving for Target but the internet would feel like they won with this type of recognition from Target.

6. Don’t do anything. Which is pretty much what they’re doing now. One funny photo that gives a head nod to the trend, and a quotes in a ton of press articles probably is enough. Whatever they do, it’s going to be scrutinized. Nothing is worse than a brand coming in and messing up a good internet joke, and if Target doesn’t play nice they’ll feel the wrath of some internet teens.

Whatever Target decides to do with Alex moving forward it will undoubtedly be great, this is one of those goofy stories that is harmless and benefits everyone.

As a brand, you can’t plan for these types of events, they’re one in a million and rely on a variety of factors to blow them into the stratosphere. You can only have the infrastructure in place to accept and execute on these moments when they do come up, and the leaders who are willing to smile and play along with their customers.

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