The Eight Best Easter Eggs Hiding Online
If you stumble across an Easter egg online, it won’t be the familiar egg-shaped, chocolate kind but something a little more unexpected. An online Easter egg can be any kind of hidden content – from a graphic to a game, to simply a surprising piece of text or code.
They may look different to the traditional Easter eggs but the principle is the same. Whereas you used to find Easter eggs hidden around your garden, you can find online Easter eggs simply by browsing the internet. They are an unexpected surprise, or a hidden treat.
And while Easter eggs are basically hidden content, they also have a strong role to play in marketing. Here are eight of the best online Easter eggs and how they strengthen the company’s brand.
Image by Rob Enslin
1. How You Can Flip, Tilt and Transform Google
Google are well-known for creating hidden treats online. From April Fool’s Day pranks to secret Easter eggs, they’re full of surprises. You can discover some of the best by simply searching for a few phrases.
Firstly, try searching for ‘askew’. Interesting? It does get weirder. Now try searching for ‘do a barrel roll’. Don’t worry, your computer isn’t having a psychedelic meltdown – it’s meant to look like that.
And finally, try searching ‘zergrush’ – this will transform the search result into a game where you have to stop the ‘o’s in Google from destroying the search results.
Although it’s highly unlikely that anyone would be searching for these phrases, if they did it would be quite a surprise. Otherwise, it’s a great marketing technique which gets people talking, tweeting and blogging about Google, simply because they’ve created something fun and unexpected.
2. Hidden Treat in the WordPress Terms of Service
WordPress have hidden an Easter egg too, in their terms of service page. It’s a clever idea and perfectly hidden – simply because few people read the whole of that page. But if you do, they’ll offer you a treat, so it’s a great way for WordPress to liven up a dull page and add a touch of humour to the serious legal bits.
Readers are not only likely to share the WordPress site as a result, but it also does wonders for the brand image, as the site is seen to have a sense of humour.
3. Mail Chimp Reveals Your Evil Twin
Setting up a new account for anything is often fairly dull. Mail Chimp have recognised this with their clever Easter egg, which occasionally appears during account set up.
If you enter a username that’s already taken, you’ll see this. While the message is fairly simple, it engages with the user and makes the sign-up process more enjoyable. Also, as a result, users are far less likely to give up if their favourite name is taken.
4. Amazon Say Thanks to David Risher
Amazon has hidden secrets too – former employee, David Risher has his own hidden page, celebrating his contribution towards making the company the global giant it is today. And it’s more than just a ‘thank you’ page – Amazon takes the opportunity to promote his favourite books, films and gadgets for you to buy.
The page works because it adds a personal touch to a company that can otherwise seem like a faceless online giant. And the personal recommendations remind you that Amazon was started by real people with a passion for books.
Head to the very bottom of the ‘directory of all stores page‘, and click on the invisible link directly below the copyright date.
5. Mystery Collaborators on Google Docs
Another great Easter egg from Google can be found in the Google Docs demo page, which engages the user through humour and surprise.
Anyone trying out a new tool just wants to know quickly what it is and what it does. This can become a tedious and confusing process but Google have injected some fun into their demo, which not only engages users but explains how Google Docs works.
Head to the demo page and start typing something in the box. You’ll soon find that you’re getting input from a range of famous literary figures and philosophers, with the likes of Shakespeare and Nietzsche sharing their thoughts on your doc.
This unexpected occurrence is funny but also teaches you about how Google Docs works. As a result, users are more likely to try the service and even recommend it to a friend, so that they can have a go with the fun demo too.
6. Mint’s Lost Page
One of the most common ways to stumble across an Easter egg is for there to be a site navigation error. Often this will result in a lifeless ‘404 error’ but many websites customise this page so that an error ends up delivering a piece of fun hidden content.
Instead of an error frustrating a visitor, an Easter egg can entertain and engage with visitors to your site, giving them something to smile about, instead of something to moan about.
A great example of this is Mint’s error page. It makes a joke of the fact that things have gone a bit wrong and engages with the viewer in a conversational, friendly way. There are lots of other great examples of this out there.
7. Unlock a Terrifying Version of the News
There’s a code you can use on many websites to unlock Easter eggs. Gamers will know this code off by heart, as it’s a cheat code called the Konami Code, used to unlock hidden features on many games.
You can use the code on Buzzfeed to unlock a surreal and terrifying version of the news. Use your keyboard to enter ‘Up up, down down, left, right, left, right, b, a’.
The code works on many other sites too, so you never know when you might discover something new.
8. Sky Bet’s ‘Boss Look Busy’ Page
Skybet have developed a hidden surprise on their site too. It’s not only funny but potentially useful, if you make a habit of betting at work.
Just above the social media bar on the Skybet home page is a hidden link which takes you to a page of – at first glance very boring pie charts and tables – but take another look and it’s a series of joke data based on Meatloaf and YMCA.
The idea is that if your boss walks past while you’re on the Skybet site, you can quickly click the secret link to get to a page of harmless spreadsheets.
The Easter egg works because it engages with its target audience, using humour and providing a potentially useful tool. It will also get people talking about the site – as it’s something that you’ll want to share as soon as you discover it. Although, maybe not with your boss.
Easter eggs are not only a way of engaging with your customers while they’re on your website, but they are a great marketing tool. They work so well because finding a piece of hidden content is so exciting and surprising that visitors instantly want to share it. People will begin talking about your brand and will want to spend more time on your site as a result.
Easters eggs are a great way to get site visitors to engage with your brand as a whole. It just goes to show that providing your customers or readers with something free, that’s of value, goes a long way.
Have you stumbled across any online Easter eggs that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments.