With a world of internet users gathering online every day, shared digital experiences have become a fundamental part of our lives. All a campaign – and therefore a brand – needs is a chain of parts to grab the attention of consumers everywhere. Viral marketing allows your brand to take advantage of the internet and achieve exponential growth.
The internet, especially social media, is a massive forum for about anything. But at any given time, there are “trending topics” that dominate online conversations. Getting on the trending topic list is a surefire way to quickly gain brand awareness, which is why many marketers today aim for virality with every campaign.
The following explains what viral marketing is and presents some practical techniques you can use to build a successful viral marketing campaign.
What is Viral Marketing?
Viral marketing is an advertising technique that aims to spread a campaign quickly and widely. In this marketing strategy, content is created in such a way that it is shared by an initial target group. The aim is to make the content so appealing and accessible that it encourages the masses to participate.
The tactic of viral marketing has its roots in word-of-mouth marketing but amplifies the power of peer recommendations through social media and other online channels. Viral marketing messages don’t just spread from person to person. When one person shares it, hundreds or even thousands of followers become aware of your campaign.
5 Essential Viral Marketing Techniques
While there’s no guarantee your marketing campaign will go viral, there are some proven strategies you can use to increase your chances of success. After all, viral content doesn’t usually happen by accident but rather is the result of careful observation of consumer behavior.
In this section, we describe the techniques you can use to make your marketing efforts as shareable as possible.
1. Quickly grab attention
Consumers are surrounded by a wealth of content every second they spend online, whether they’re using a computer or mobile device. To get them to pay attention to your campaign instead of skimming it, you need to have an immediate attention factor that keeps them on track.
A visual element in your digital marketing content can help. Additionally, you need to entice your target audience with a message that will be instantly understood as bold, funny, wild, awe-inspiring, or anything in between.
In addition, your strategies must adapt to changing media consumption. Recently, Instagram Reels, TikTok Videos, and Clubhouse Rooms have become increasingly popular. Adjusting your strategies will help you capitalize on your viral content.
For example, the 2019 campaign that made an egg the most popular image on Instagram was insanely successful because it was so weird and funny. There was no purpose or reason for it, and that’s what made people “like” the photo.
2. Engage your audience
Content will rarely go viral if it doesn’t engage its audience. Viral marketing works best when it’s designed in a way that audiences can interact with and easily share.
At a minimum, your content must include some sort of call to action (CTA) that tells users what to do after hearing your message. Some of the most successful viral marketing campaigns also offer audiences the opportunity to comment, create their own content, or otherwise play along.
Your goal is to make sure your viewers don’t take their eyes off the screen until they’ve shared your content with their own networks. If you can also involve the media with your campaign, that is all the better for increasing your awareness.
3. Appeal to emotions
Consumers are very much guided by their feelings. When you create viral marketing content that elicits a strong emotional response, your viewers are more likely to engage.
Think of some viral content that you remember. They may have made you laugh or cry. Perhaps they are particularly heartwarming or appeal to your sense of nostalgia. In some cases, the content was shared by a celebrity you already follow or admire. Whatever marketing campaigns come to mind, they’ve probably touched you in some way.
Bland informational advertising is no good if you’re aiming for virality. So make sure you convey a feeling to your audience that inspires them to take action. P&G’s successful “Thank You, Mom” campaign is an example of how you can inspire your audience.
4. Keep the message simple
All viral campaigns have one thing in common: their messages can be summed up in a short phrase or sentence. More than one CTA or overarching message can confuse or distract your audience, reducing the overall impact of your campaign. Keeping your viral message down to a simple takeaway message makes it memorable and easy to understand.
The overall content of your content should also be relatively simple. When sharing your text on social media, don’t overload it with hashtags, as this can create clutter and distract from your main message. Ideally, videos should be no longer than 30 seconds—just long enough to get your message across without too many frills.
Don’t forget that simplicity shouldn’t limit creativity. When brainstorming your viral marketing plan, think outside the box to get your message across. From Dove’s ‘Evolution’ campaign, which launched the brand for its commitment to genuine beauty, this viral video is a great example of how you can send a big message without saying much.
5. Set goals for Viral Marketing
During a viral marketing campaign, make sure your team is working behind the scenes to better engage and re-engage your audiences and focus the world on your brand. To do this successfully, you must have marketing goals that will help you improve your strategy in real-time.
A marketing goal should be a specific, measurable goal. This allows you to use your data to determine if you’re on the right track or if you need to make adjustments. Think about how many people you want to reach in the first hour and how many shares you want to reach by the end of the three weeks. What financial impact will the campaign have on your business and how can your business track the results?
Market research on your competitors’ past campaigns can help you define a realistic goal without underselling yourself.
Master viral marketing to captivate a whole world of users.
The internet – especially with the advent of social media – offers businesses a tremendous opportunity to reach thousands or even millions of people in a day. When your brand creates compelling and shareable content, you can use the power of online connections to spread your message further, rather than just the power of your budget. The viral marketing techniques in this guide can help you increase the likelihood that your next campaign will be a success.