If I were a Jonas Brothers song, I would be “Burnin’ Up;” if I were a Harry Potter character, I would be Ron Weasley; and if I were a 27-year-old techie who could, on a whim, propel both of these valuations into the upper echelon of Twitter’s most talked-about topics, I would be Dave Zohrob, the founder and CEO of LOLquiz.
Chances are you haven’t heard of LOLquiz, which is barely four weeks old. But if you’ve browsed Twitter in the past month, you’ve seen what it spawns: Annoying, seemingly random half-tweets (Which Disney Channel… Which MJ song… Which Harry Potter…) that consistently trend in popularity above more serious topics, such as “Iran Election.” If you dare to click one on these links, you’ll see thousands upon thousands of identical missives, all of which resemble the following: “I just took the ‘Which disney channel star are you?’ quiz & got: Your [sic] Miley Cyrus!! What about you? ➜ http://bit.ly/17SzSc.”
In just over a month, LOLquiz has amassed more than 300,000 users
and scored at least 20 of Twitter’s top trending topics–all by letting people write, take, and tweet about five-question quizzes. Yet Zohrob has no advertising budget and works with just one business partner: Jim Young, founder of HotOrNot.com. The success of LOLquiz, he says, is part luck, part tech, and an army of tweens. “I was just experimenting,” says Zohrob, noting that he created the site after spotting the similarly popular quiz apps on Facebook. “I had no idea it would get this big.”
“Big” may be an understatement. On Tuesday, for example, Disney star Demi Lovato took a LOLquiz. Minutes later, her 600,000+ Twitter followers had spawned three trending topics,
all of which lasted several hours and could be traced to Zohrob’s site. Earlier this month, the site’s “Which New Kid on the Block Would Marry You?” quiz stayed atop the popular trending topics list for a full day–even without a celebrity endorsement. More established brands, like Moonfruit and Skittles, have shelled out money and sacrificed for just a fraction of that exposure. Zohrob does nothing, yet his LOLquizzes rule Twitter on a daily basis.
If you’re an avid tweeter–like me–you’re probably balking right now. Sure, Zohrob’s site seems fun (ed. note: or annoying!). But Twitter has thus far offered a (mostly) mature, (sometimes) stimulating alternative to Facebook and MySpace. What if LOLquizzes are the new glittering animated GIFs? Or worse: The next zombie app?
Whatever they are, they’re here to stay, at least for the immediate future. Twitter, Zohrob says, is now equal parts technophile trend and tween phenomenon. Don’t believe him? Just compare Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus‘ 1.4 million followers with Twitter cofounder Evan Williams‘ 1.14 million. “The technorati might not care about a LOLquiz [involving] Demi Lovato or Harry Potter,” Zohrob says. “But the 14-year-olds do.” And they have as much right to Twitter as the technorati.
Already, several companies have asked to advertise
on LOLquiz.com–undoubtedly to court the $43 billion tween market. Surprisingly, though, Zohrob doesn’t want to monetize his site that way. “I’d rather go the sponsored route,” he says. “You know,
partnering with music artists, movie studios, stuff like that.”
Either way, he needs to act fast: Tweens usually love something one minute, then dump it the next. (R.I.P. High School Musical.) But if this whole quiz thing doesn’t work out, Zohrob could default to the Disney Channel. As he freely admits, “LOLquiz has taught me more about the Jonas Brothers than I ever cared to know.”