The other day, I attended a talent show in the Bronx. A friend described it as, "more show than talent," but the spirit and enthusiasm of the performers and the hundreds in the audience was infectious. After two hours, though, everyone was dragging.
Then a dancer came out and the PA started playing a song by Fergie:
Comin' to me call me Stacy (Hey Stacy)
I'm the F to the E, R, G the I the E
And can't no other lady put it down like me
The place erupted. Grandmothers were literally dancing in the aisles. It was a perfect example of mass hysteria. The song was popular in that moment for exactly one reason: because it was popular. It gave a diverse audience a chance to share a piece of pop culture. It was safe.
The goal of many marketers is to create a moment like this. To capture the attention of the masses. Alas, not too much room at this table. The real opportunity is this:
To create micro hysteria.
To find pockets of the population that interact with each other and create that sort of experience. Susan Sontag did it (everyone in that circle read her latest). Joel Spolsky does it. Too often, marketers have mass envy. Far better to obsess about owning the micro audience, at least for a moment, then to waste your energy trying to be everything to everyone.