Just after 6 p.m. Thursday, BuzzFeed posted what might be its single most-shared article ever (according to AdWeek): “What Colors Are This Dress.” The Buzzfeed staff had noticed that a Tumblr post from the user swiked was getting an unusual amount of traffic, reposted the picture and a simple comment: “There’s a lot of debate on Tumblr about this right now, and we need to settle it” and added a poll where people could vote on the color of the dress.

Less than a day later, the article had over 28 millions views, the poll had almost 3 million votes and the hashtag #TheDress and #whiteandgold {link no longer active} were trending on Twitter with both other publishers and brands jumping on the bandwagon.

Buzzfeed’s ability to tap into these kind of conversations and nudge them into that space where we begin to speak about it as a phenomenon is really the result of data-driven content creation optimized for consumption. What Buzzfeed does is make it simple for people to share and talk about something and its scale ensures that so many eyes will see. It’s as much about understanding internet culture and behavior as the data and building a vessel to capture the traffic. A post by writer and programmer Paul Ford on Medium summarizes it well: “(1) Putting people on two teams, (2) a hint of magic, and (3) some science.”

As the data tells us that debatable dress colors and escaped llamas are the conversation du jour, brands who wants to bottle this kind of “magic” further have to navigate the murky sea of whether or not the conversation is relevant to them as participating seems to be an engagement gold mine. While jumping on the brandwagon may be tempting, Ayzenberg’s VP of Social Media Rebecca Markarian warns that brands should pick their conversations wisely:

“There’s no reason for brands not to get in on the occasional internet sensation, but chose wisely.  Jumping in on trends can be risky so make sure you have a good idea, you’ve thought through possible negative reactions and your brand partner is aware and ready to take the risk. In this case, XboxCommunity and Sonic are all brands that made sense to have a little fun with the meme so we went for it and clearly the positive fan response tells us it was a smart move.”