Online Easter eggs let businesses show their creativity while creating a sense of exclusivity within an audience. Unlike massive social media campaigns or website redesigns, Easter eggs are nonpromotional extras that only a limited number of followers discover. They’re unique and generate excitement in a way that infographics, videos, and social media posts can’t.
Easter eggs have been around since the beginning of computer programming and originally served as a joke or message only programmers would discover. A programmer who hid a secret room inside of an Atari 2600 game coined the term. The commands for starting an Easter egg vary, and today, many websites use Easter eggs to have fun with their online content.
For instance, before Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released, Google released several Star Wars-themed Easter eggs. One such surprise occurs when searchers type in “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” That search phrase prompts the search screen to become the opening credits of the Star Wars movie franchise.
Easter Eggs to Try
Online users rarely find out about the presence of an Easter egg directly from a company. Website content developers may leak the information to an online venue, and sometimes the Easter eggs are hidden so well they lay undiscovered for years. Some are simple surprises hidden in normal activities, while others require a code input to discover. Here are some of the most popular Easter eggs to try:
- Call hat-wearing velociraptors to any page on British Vogue’s site with the Konami code. On any page of the website, complete the following portion of the Konami code – arrow keys: up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B key, A key (keep pressing A to see several velociraptors move across the screen).
- Type in “I’m feeling curious” into a Google search to see random facts appear on the results screen.
- Play a game when Google Chrome cannot connect to the internet. If you press the spacebar when the dinosaur appears for the “unable to connect to the internet” page, you can start playing.
- Check out the listing for This is Spinal Tap on com. Normally, the ratings for movies go up to 10, but this movie’s rating possibilities go up to 11.
- Change the language used on Facebook to “pirate.” Go into the language settings to watch your newsfeed transform into a “captain’s log.”
- Ask Siri to solve 0 ÷ 0. She uses a cookie analogy to explain the answer, and then goes on to say, “And Cookie Monster is sad that there are no cookies, and you are sad that you have no friends.”
- Go into the Settings app on an Android device and into the About section. Tap on Android version repeatedly to see a marshmallow-android image. Tap on the image and then press on it for a long moment to start a hidden game.
What’s the Point?
Easter eggs are fun for website design and programmers, but can they also really help a brand reach marketing goals? For example, Moo.com launched an online and offline Easter egg campaign in 2008. Anyone who discovered an Easter egg on an affiliated site or in real life could win a prize, making it a great incentive to dig around on any website.
Easter eggs spread like gossip in the online world. They’re like hidden treasure. If you know about it, you have access to information few others have. A great Easter egg campaign can generate online conversations and bring audience members together online. A company does not need to tell the world what the Easter egg is or how to find it. It only needs to provide enough information for online searchers to discover.
Remember when Siri launched with Apple’s iPhone 4s? Apple users started using the app to discover what hidden responses developers coded into the program. The added features encouraged users to hop on board with voice-activated assistance – something that was not widely used at the time.
Should All Companies Use Easter Eggs?
Companies should always consider Easter eggs when developing marketing campaigns, but it may not always be the right answer. An Easter egg can drive engagement and encourage a sense of belonging within an audience, but some Easter eggs do not deliver a high return on investment. If you have programmers who are willing to explore the possibilities of coding in Easter eggs, give them some creative license to explore the art. However, you may not want to invest in a campaign that relies heavily on the performance of hidden content.
Instead, focus on developing content that will strike a chord with your audience. Aim to deliver what is missing from online conversations. For some industries, that may mean investing in more visual content. For others, it may mean trying to weave Easter egg-like content into a website or application to encourage a higher rate of user interaction.