The Art of Creating a Viral Marketing Campaign
by Douglas Anderson
As a marketer, we have all attempted to create a viral marketing campaign, however, exactly what triggers virality still remains a mystery to many marketing professionals. Most things on the web go viral because of the snowball effect: someone sees something they enjoy, then they share it, then some of their friends see it and share it, and so on. Remember Rahul Dravid’s famous ad for #IndranagarKaGunda CRED or ‘Not Just a Cadbury Ad’ featuring Shahrukh Khan, both were delivered during an event/festival, yet after those occasions for their uniqueness and connectedness. Reasons arose again.
It’s easy to understand how things go viral—understanding why is the hard part. All viral marketing examples, intentional or accidental, target two types of customer segments – repeat customers and maybe. A campaign goes viral if the brand is able to convert a ‘maybe’ to a ‘yes’, thereby expanding its reach and customer base to enter a new market. From studying and executing multiple viral campaigns, we’ve learned that like building a snowball, one needs to start with a strong foundation so that the campaign doesn’t crumble and ‘maybe’ hide in a solid ‘yes’.
Here are three ways to go about it –
1. Use Social Media Properly
With the widespread adoption and role of social media platforms, it is no surprise that when it comes to marketing a product, service or brand, companies prefer online platforms at the top. When building a campaign for social media, brands should start by identifying their audience and promoting content on the right platform that their audiences love to use regularly. A viral social media campaign has at least two of these elements: originality and engagement – one that is unique and one that evokes emotion. Viewers today have shifted from the role of content receiver to the role of content creator, distributor and commentator. Therefore, marketers often rely on the help of an influencer who has the power to influence the purchasing decisions of others; to be their spokesperson. Still, this is not enough, the brand needs to engage regular people. Influencers can be the core but in order to form a snowball, small regular snowflakes need to be assembled. This takes us to our next point.
2. Create User Generated Content
Most of the brands focus on promotion and influencers for their campaign, they miss talking about it to their customers (regular people). Regular people have to recommend what to watch to their friends in order to get ‘probably’ to really pay attention to the content on social media. With the constant battle to be watched online and the competition for audience attention, it is safe to say that no other content type is more authentic than UGC (User-Generated Content) created by customers. UGC gives a unique opportunity to the customers to participate in the development of a brand rather than being an audience. People ultimately trust other people, so it is necessary to think of UGC as modern day word of mouth. Most of the educated brands and campaigns have gone viral as they have ensured that they get some UGC right from the start to help them grow. With the help of specialized platforms, companies can create and sponsor communities, and promote contests, and award prizes to attract and garner large audiences. These platforms have the resources that brands are looking for and their efforts are sure to yield good results.
3. You need to be visible everywhere
The last and probably the most important step in changing ‘maybe’ to ‘yes’ is to be seen across multiple outlets. From the time the audience is awake and till they fall asleep, brand campaigns should be the talk of their circle. The key to virginity is to be visible to as many potential customers as possible. Viewers need to wake up in the morning to see the campaign on their news app and find a PR piece for the brand, see an influencer on social media talking about it, and get DMs from friends asking them to view and re-share the campaign are recommending to do and so on and so on. That’s how the snowball rolls. Because of the reach of public relations, marketers often turn to PR to create a long-term impact on a brand’s reputation and public image, driving the campaign to a substantial audience and adding to its virality.
All aspects of marketing (UGC, social media, PR) work best when they work together. By strategically developing each strategy a brand can reach different segments of the audience thereby creating not only viral campaigns but also long-term brand enthusiasts.
The author is co-founder, Brandi