Going viral is the ubiquitous term for a marketing campaign, meme or other internet phenomena that spreads across platforms, social media, e-mail and other web-based communications so widely that it becomes a household name. A viral campaign produces brand recognition, traffic and a buzz that can draw attention and business, driving up sales.
Creating a viral campaign is usually a side-effect, an unplanned result of a marketing campaign capturing the attention of the internet public. Good marketing strategy should push a campaign forward, but making the leap to viral status means that it grows organically, spreading through the social media, blogosphere and World Wide Web on its own.
So, how do you create viral campaign? The answer is simple: You can’t. But, you can create an environment in which a campaign has the best chance to go viral.
1) Include quality content. No one will pay attention to a SEO-driven bucket of fluff masquerading as a marketing campaign. If you want to catch people’s attention, you’ll need to stand out, to be heard above the cacophony of voices selling their wares online.
2) Know the difference between notoriety and fame. Connect with the audience by evoking some emotion. Emotions range from humor to angst to drama to anger. A good rule of thumb is, avoid controversy involving politics and religion, and never incite or imply harm to children, puppies or kittens (or pretty much anything small, cute and helpless). Everything else is pretty much open to interpretation, but do understand your audience. Controversy can hurt your brand as easily as it can help it, so tread with caution when stirring the pot.
Recently, Hollywood director Michael bay incited a near internet-riot with comments about his upcoming superhero movie featuring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Bay’s referral to “alien turtles” had the internet exploding with nerd-rage as fans, and even one of the original creators, objected to the apparent dramatic change to their favorite characters’ origins story. The backlash was so severe that the Producer backpedaled from Bay’s comments, further undermining Bay’s standing in the industry. With his reputation for changing basic elements of classic story lines (controversy), Bay is bringing himself ridicule rather than acclaim.
3) Invite people to respond. We share content on the web all the time. Memes, quotes, photos, opinions, ideas, are all flying through social media every moment of the day. We tend to group together into networks in which people share things we’re interested in or agree with. The trick to creating a viral marketing campaign is to touch upon an element that appeals to a wide audience, that crosses over several social network categories to induce responses from people from different groups.
The strategies that lead to a campaign going viral are the same as those that lead to success in any campaign, so your best route to “going viral” is just good, solid marketing.
|Tom Chu works for PsPrint and PsPrint Blog. When he’s not sitting behind a computer, Tom likes watching sci-fi movies and Japanese cartoons, hitting the golf course and playing with his four dogs. You can connect with Tom via Google+ or Twitter.|