#Sharknado Eats Paid Media for Lunch

SharknadoNext time somebody questions the value of social media engagement, pick up your mobile device and tweet at the person using the hashtag #Sharknado.

Syfy's "Sharknado," a Roger Corman-esque, low-budget movie about the bloody confluence of hungry sharks and global warming, was not a winner in the ratings in its original broadcast on July 11, but the commentary on Twitter using the hashtag #Sharknado has raised the media profile of the cable network to its highest point since the former Sci Fi Channel rebranded itself in 2009.

Even if you don't subscribe to cable you are now familiar with the brand Syfy and with the movie title "Sharknado." And you probably want to watch "Sharknado."

That shredding and chomping you hear may be the sound of marketing and ad budgets getting chewed up and spit out. The director of "Sharknado," Anthony Ferrante, has said that there was no marketing budget for the film.

The Verge reported that on the night of the movie's premiere the word "Sharknado" was appearing in 5,000 tweets per minute. Syfy announced on July 10 that it will produce a sequel, with the utterly brilliant title, "Sharknado2," and tweeted that it is accepting suggestions for the movie's tagline from anyone who tweets @SyfyMovies.

As Variety reported, the rage on Twitter—if not the movie itself—received coverage on major media outlets such as "NBC Nightly News," "World News with Diane Sawyer," CNN and local TV news programs.

You may not be working with a brand name as catchy as "Sharknado," but whatever the product or service, you can experiment with silly hashtags that may take flight. The root of PR is still writing—and a great hashtag is just another form of wordplay. Just make sure you find a way to get "shark" in there, at least for the next week or so.

Follow Steve Goldstein: @SGoldsteinAI