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Authors, like every other person or company plugging their products, are constantly refining their marketing message and dry-running new social media strategies, trying to figure out how to engage our potential readers – whoever they are. It’s all a very frustrating exercise in futility, most of the time, because who knows? No one, really.

There are paid services and books and blogs with tips-o-plenty, but the truth is no one knows what makes a video or photo or post or tweet go viral, just like no one knows which books will hit the best-seller lists or get made into blockbuster films. The only thing we know for sure is that there IS a cultural stream of consciousness out there that everyone is tuned into on some level, and if you’re lucky enough to accidentally tap that vein, anything is possible.

Accidental advertising is just what the term implies – unintentional. You can’t plan for it or pay for it or pick the place or time to show up. It happens organically, but oddly enough, not necessarily randomly.

One of the universal truths in marketing is that people respond to messaging with their emotional right brains more than their practical left brains – even when making a perfunctory purchase. They respond to things based on how those things make them feel more than anything.

Take as study the most amazing example of accidental marketing I’ve seen in years – the case of Dillon Josephsen, who inadvertently blew up the internet last week by tweeting something kinda silly-sweet he noticed about his dad’s business Facebook page. Dillon discovered that his dad, a flooring guy in New Jersey, had been taking pics of dogs he met on the job (in his clients’ homes) and posting them on the page as his “employee of the week”. Super cute, right? Dillon innocently tweeted a collage of the photos to his friends, and inadvertently staged a mega marketing coup.

EVERYONE LOVES DOGS! Who knew right? I know *I* do. When I saw that tweet retweeted in my feed by someone I follow, I clicked on it SO FAST. And then I clicked through to Dillon’s dad’s Facebook page because I just had to see it for myself.

And now, like over 14,000 (!) other people across the globe, I am a fan of Stairfaces & Josephsen Hardwood Floors for no good reason, except DOGS, and of course one day I might move to New Jersey and need some reclaimed barn door planks refinished and installed as flooring in my home office. It could happen, right?

But, even if it doesn’t, my heart has been warmed by some guy I’ll never meet and the pets he posts on his business page. I’m ALSO now following his college-age son on Twitter, because this kid? He’s trying to make something of himself, maybe in the media/entertainment industry, and I’ve got a daughter his age who is trying to make her mark as a vocalist. ABN (always be networking), people!

See how this works? Sometimes it’s just about being yourself and sharing information that matters or moves YOU. If it makes YOU happy or sad or mad, odds are pretty good it will affect others the same way. Being a member of the audience you are trying to reach and engaging in honest dialogue without contrivance or artifice or hidden agenda is the easiest form of social media marketing and networking there is. And it works surprisingly well!

To learn more about Dillon and his dad, here’s a great article (one of many) that popped up after that tweet went viral:

Fox 5 Employee of the Week