I wrote recently about what happened when Netflix tweeted the number of views its new Bird Box movie got in the first week: 45 million accounts. People reacted with incredulity.
Now, Netflix has another big tweet -- this time making an announcement about the insane social media challenge that the Netflix movie spawned. And if the first time people reacted with disbelief, this time they're reacting with awe, because it's truly brilliant.
The movie, if you haven't seen it, stars Sandra Bullock, and involves some kind of supernatural power that tracks her and her children. The only way to escape it, is to blindfold themselves and rush to safety.
This being 2019 (happy new year by the way), if you combine a viral piece of entertainment with a weird physical twist, you get a challenge that goes viral: people doing (or pretending to do) all kinds of dangerous things while being blindfolded, and posting them to social media.
Emphasis on dangerous, of course. My colleague Chris Matyszczyk has a perfect example.
Netflix, naturally, took to Twitter (where else?) to warn people to dial it back:
Can't believe I have to say this, but: PLEASE DO NOT HURT YOURSELVES WITH THIS BIRD BOX CHALLENGE. We don't know how this started, and we appreciate the love, but Boy and Girl have just one wish for 2019 and it is that you not end up in the hospital due to memes.
Can't believe I have to say this, but: PLEASE DO NOT HURT YOURSELVES WITH THIS BIRD BOX CHALLENGE. We don't know how this started, and we appreciate the love, but Boy and Girl have just one wish for 2019 and it is that you not end up in the hospital due to memes.-- Netflix US (@netflix) January 2, 2019
Now, here's the thing. There's viral, and then there's "Netflix tweets about it viral."
Because as The Washington Post reports, some of the #BirdBoxChallenge videos didn't actually have that many views until after Netflix posted its tweet.
But once Netflix said things were dangerous: Look out.
Within 24 hours after the tweet, the Netflix warning has another 54,000 retweets and 271,000 likes -- all of which adds even more publicity to the big hit the company already has.
It all adds up to something pretty amazing. On the one hand, Neflix has done the super-responsible thing and asked its viewers not to behave dangerously while posting online homages to Netflix's super-popular movie.
And on the other hand, Netflix is also pouring gasoline on the fire and ensuring that even more people pay attention to the challenge, the movie, and Netflix itself.
I've reached out to Netflix to ask for context. No reply yet. While we wait, let's just reflect on the challenge, the tweet, and the fact that insanity and brilliance so often seem to be two sides of the same coin.
That, and also how whomever posted the tweet for Netflix started out by saying, "Can't believe I have to say this..." instead of the corporate "we." I kind of love that.