It’s the 26th year Discovery Channel has run it’s annual “Shark Week” special, and interest has skyrocketed since the past year. Google Trends shows a huge increase in search traffic and more for just the term “Shark Week” – not taking into account any variations on the keyword phrase.

shark week

Aided by poor editorial decisions, Discovery Channel is stuck with the wrath of fans, and scorn of the media after their inaccurate feature on the ‘submarine shark’ off the coast of Africa, hit the airwaves on Monday. Not only was the program a far-fetched load of crap, it was discovered that many of the real scientists (not actors) that appeared in the week’s programs were misled to believe their interviews were on other topics.

Subsequently, their answers were edited to fit the scripts – destroying any credibility Discovery Channel may have had.

If anyone’s happy – it’s National Geographic, whose viewership is sure to improve as viewers leave Discovery Channel in droves.

Regardless of what the politics and controversy involved in Shark Week 2014, it’s interesting to see how it played out socially over the week.

Donuts + Selfies = #DDSharkWeek

Dunkin Donuts took to social media asking users to use the hashtag #DDSharkWeek and take a selfie of them eating their favorite DD treats. It helped that Dunkin came out with a ‘life preserver’ frosted donut this week to add to the theme.

Instagram is filled with great pictures of consumers – but Facebook drew the most usage from the hashtag – you can check out a survey here. Fans were allowed to vote for their favorites – this one is my favorite, although you can check out the other winners on Discovery’s website. The winners were featured on DD’s Times Square screen, and received prizes like DD gift cards, and more. Not bad for buying a donut & snapping a selfie.

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Pinterest Blows Up

Mommy bloggers rule Pinterest and the social platform blew up this week with all sorts of DIY shark-themed projects, crafts, and snacks. Throwing a Shark Week viewing party with your friends? No problem – there are plenty of tutorials for shark cake pops, cupcakes, mixed drinks, and other snacks. Need something themed for a younger audience? There are plenty of craft ideas, costumes, and more.

shark week on pinterest

Travelocity – How far are YOU from sharks now?

Not one to be left out in the social buzz, Travelocity developed an interactive map where users can enter their location and the app tells you how far you are from sharks. It’s based on recent shark sightings – and their hilarious tweet sums it up:

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Beyond the Big Brands

Just perusing the #SharkWeek tag on Instagram revealed a lot of local businesses chiming in on the action. Coffee shops and restaurants served shark-themed menu specials throughout the week – resulting in perfectly instagrammable (and free) PR. Libraries, Bookstores, and Retailers created shark displays of their products and more.

Those are just some creative examples of small business owners newsjacking an event with a cult following. There were plenty of lame attempts at using Shark Week as a marketing ploy.

Did You Even Try?

If you got an email with the headline: “Take a BITE out of these savings!” this week, you were victim of someone’s inability to be more creative. Even big brands were subject to this ploy – with poorly photo-shopped images of sharks and their products (I’m looking at you, Snickers) and overused punny headlines.

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As for Shark Week next year? With Discovery Channel’s fake programming and social fall out this year – I’m not sure what next August holds in store for #SharkWeek2015. What do you think? Do you think more or fewer brands will attempt a social campaign during the week?