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Viral Marketing: Tips & Lessons on How to Go Viral

by | Nov 14, 2022 | Blog | 0 comments

“If there is a viral video on the internet, you know it’s on YouTube. You can search for it, find it, see the view count, and then take that link and share it with whomever you want. That’s what we are doing for images.” – Alan Schaaf.

A well-executed marketing campaign can do wonders for your business. But what if you could take things one step further and make your marketing campaign go viral? In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the best ways to achieve virality with your marketing materials – so read on to find out more!

What does it mean to go viral?

Going viral describes when a video, image, message, meme, or hashtag, gains popularity quickly on the internet. It does not refer to the content but rather how it increases in popularity. Content goes viral by exponentially racking up views, likes, subscriptions, followers, #hashtags, reviews, and other references. The key to amassing attention on social media is when users share content with their followers.

What is Viral Marketing? 

“Emotion is one factor that drives sharing. We see lots of funny stuff go viral on YouTube, but we also see angry political rants get shared… any emotion that fires us up; humor, awe, and excitement, but also anger and anxiety; drives us to share.” – Jonah Berger, University of Pennsylvania.

Viral marketing is the organic or word-of-mouth circulation of brand information for the purpose of rapidly spreading it across a large and growing audience. The internet and the popularization of social media have significantly increased the number of viral messages in memes, shares, likes, and forwards. Some of the benefits of Viral Marketing include the following:

  • Reduced Advertising Costs
  • Increased Media Exposure
  • Rapid Lead Generation
  • Increased Credibility

Some key characteristics of messages with viral potential include, creative product presentation, brand memes or interactive content. Modern marketing and communication must be exciting, funny, provocative, and shocking to attract attention and make consumers feel like they want to share the message amongst their friends, family and professional social networks.

Examples of Successful Viral Marketing Campaigns 

Old Spice: “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.”

1) Old Spice ran the most successful viral marketing campaign with its humorous 2010 advertisements. The company created a brand character, the Old Spice man, who appeared in “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.” The Old Spice man Isaiah Mustafa’s YouTube video attracted 54 million views, including positive reviews. The ads were designed to appeal to a female audience and to give a subtle hint to men to buy Old Spice products

Dove: “Real Beauty Sketches”

2) Dove’s 2013 “Real Beauty Sketches” video was viewed more than 114 million times in the first month of being uploaded to YouTube. The video ran in 25 languages on 33 of Dove’s YouTube channels reaching consumers in over 110 countries. Their “Real Beauty Sketches” appealed to raw emotion. It is one of the most viral marketing videos ever created, having been viewed and shared by millions of people worldwide (especially women). Well-established brands such as Dove have the luxury of extensive budgets.

KFC: “#UntilWeCanFingerLickAgain”

3) KFC’s well-known advertising slogan, “it’s finger-licking good,” has been synonymous with the brand for over 64 years. However, the pandemic raised public concern regarding sanitation which meant that KFC’s trademark slogan no longer aligned with the idea of literally licking fingers. Moreover, KFC approached the advertising challenge with humor rather than reinventing a new concept. As a result, for 48 hours, KFC adapted slogans from other companies under the hashtag #UntilWeCanFingerLickAgain.

Viral Marketing Lessons from these Successful Campaigns

  • Engage your audience in interactive ways; for example, address comments or questions in future ads. Old spice responded to Tweets and reviews through other youtube videos. This allows your customers to feel like they are participating in the process.
  • Connecting to the audience emotionally! People tend to recall, discuss and share articles, images, ads, and memes that are humorous, tragic, or dramatic. Remember, to go viral means the audience has to share your content. Further, one thing most, if not all, successful viral marketing campaigns have in common is their ability to establish an emotional connection with their target audience.
  • Use the second-person term “you” to personalize your ads or social media content. You must connect with your audience on as many levels and in as many ways as possible.
  • Connect your content or ads to social causes, such as the environment, health research, education, wildlife, etc. People feel good about purchasing products that benefit the betterment of society and the world.
  • Take advantage of technology, monitor your ads and content progress, and make adjustments as required. Technology provides you with the opportunity to deliver an omnichannel customer experience. Analytics will give you in-depth insights into your customers and capture their buying behavior.
  • Create a sense of urgency by making purchases time sensitive or by including a call-to-action in your ads or content.
  • Remember, sharing is the key to going viral. Thus, creating a viral loop should be one of your objectives. For instance, if one person tells three other people about the ad, and those three tell three more, a viral loop is the result. Urgency can help pass a message along more quickly.

“You’re only one video away from going viral and changing your life.” – Jake Paul.

Getting noticed via social media is key to starting your viral marketing campaign. However, the market is competitive, with users uploading 100 hours of video to YouTube every 60 seconds and sharing close to 5 billion pieces of content on Facebook every 24 hours. And remember Twitter; there are approximately 500 million new tweets a day. We still haven’t mentioned Instagram, Tik Tok, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Quora, which are also significant players.

Still, companies of all shapes and sizes continue to tap into viral marketing by creating innovative campaigns that compel consumers to share content through various social platforms. Social media equalizes the playing field so that small businesses still have a chance to out message large established corporations, regardless of budget. Some campaigns are gut-wrenchingly funny, while others are tragic or saddening. However, what they all have in common is their appeal to emotional triggers that get people interested and sharing!

The critical thing to remember is, at any time, anyone or any company can cut through the clutter, regardless of brand awareness or marketing budget. It only takes one unique idea and skilled execution.

Viral marketing is one of the quickest ways to reach a large number of people in a short period of time. If you are looking to launch a viral marketing campaign, you must remember the emotions you want to evoke in your target audience. Positive emotions like laughter and awe work best and can help your campaign take off. Additionally, make sure that your content is shareable and interesting enough for people to want to pass it on. The three examples we looked at are good case studies for understanding how to create a successful viral advertisement. Keep the lessons we discussed in mind, and you, too, could see your content go viral!

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