What happens after the end of a fairytale - after Cinderella marries her prince, or, in this story, after "Chewbacca Mom" finds her 15 minutes of fame?
If you haven't been following the adventures of Texas mom Candace Payne since "Chewbacca Mom" became the most viewed Facebook Live video of all time, you're missing out on a fairytale of influential proportions.
In less than two weeks, Payne's Facebook following has increased by more than 776,000, instantly making her what brands and marketers term a "tier 1 influencer".
And Payne's not unaware of the life-changing implications of her new status. About 48 hours after her belly-laughing wookie video went viral, she quietly observed in a Facebook update:
Here are some of the lessons brands can learn in the wake of the #ChewbaccaMom incident:
1. Plan to be awesome
Plenty of brands have a social media crisis plan in place, with scripted responses designed to halt the outrage machine before it gains traction. But what happens when things go wonderfully, unpredictably right? Like one of your customers makes a hilarious video about your product - while she sits in her car in your parking lot - and it goes viral? You don't have time to choreograph an appropriate 'thank you' and wait for it to be approved by your PR, marketing, comms, social media and exec teams.
Retailer Kohl's response was pitch perfect, and as charmingly unrehearsed and personal as Chewbacca Mom's video. Because let's be honest - Kohl's could have backed a dump truck of Star Wars merchandise into her backyard and it would have been worth every cent just for the increase in foot traffic to its stores.
The lesson? Empower your employees and agency partners so that they can respond in kind when your brand is caught up in a wave of good publicity. Consider allocating a 'spread the love' budget that can be used without the usual onerous sign-off process and careful scripting.
2. The long-term benefits of staying on-brand
Candace, whose inbox surely explodeth with offers, is now a brand in her own right - and she's being shrewd with her newfound fame.
While she's cycled across the Facebook HQ campus, appeared on Good Morning America, and carpooled with James Corden and JJ Abrams, Candace's only commercial endeavor, so far, is a collaboration with an illustrator to design a range of T-shirts featuring her slogan "The simple joys", with half the proceeds going to charity.
Hey guys! Exciting news! @candacepayne (Chewbacca Mom) partnered with me over at @becomingink to create this new shirt design called "Simple Joys." We wanted to celebrate her amazing message and support her favorite charity, so 50% of profits will be donated to The Oaks "All In" Initiative. Check it out. Link is in the @becomingink profile.
A photo posted by Rebecca Tillman-Young (@rebecca.ty) on May 27, 2016 at 8:08pm PDT
The lesson? There are only so many times you can put on a Chewbacca mask and laugh for the cameras. Candace's personal brand is built on "simple joys" and she's putting all her money on the long bet - instead of cashing in on her viral fame to go down in Internet history as "that woman who made that wookie video".
3) You can't fake authenticity
"Authenticity" has become something of a buzzword in advertising. It's in response to Gen Xs and Millennials who hunger for something real and relatable after being raised on a diet of music videos, double-page spreads and Photoshopped thigh gaps. They don't want brands to tell them what to buy, they want people they trust to tell them what to buy.
Part of the reason why Chewbacca Mom video has been watched 150m times (and counting), is that consumers have become numbed by advertising. Unintentional as it was, that Chewbacca mask sold out in Kohl's stores across America within 24 hours of Candace's video going live. That's the power of authentic influencer marketing in action.
The lesson? Spend less of your marketing budget on billboards and more on creating meaningful connections with influencers, ambassadors and people who can tell your brands story in an authentic way.