Recipe for going viral:
- Emotionally captivating idea/concept
- An audience
- A share button
- Come up with a new and exciting idea that will get people’s attention
- Post it online
- Tell all your friends and family to tell their friends and family about it and so on until everyone knows about the post
- You now have yourself a viral marketing campaign. Enjoy!
Pretty poor excuse for a recipe, huh? Well now for some unfortunate news… In reality, there is no one strategy or prescribed step-by-step guide that will make your marketing campaign go viral. Going viral is more of an art than science. You never really know what’s going to go viral but with some careful planning and excellent execution, marketing experts have identified some ways that make it possible to create a successful Integrated Marketing Campagin (IMC) and maximise on the number of people that see it. Let’s take a look at a few of them below:
Know your audience
Gaining a proper understanding of the audience is essential in helping to ensure the proper IMC strategy is used and maximising organisational resources. Characteristics such as:
- Consumer attitudes
- Which channels they’re currently using
- Level of activity on social media
KFC is very active on social media and like to keep in touch with their customers through the use of light humour. A current trend on Facebook is that users ‘Tag’ their friends in posts as a way of jokingly insinuating that they owe them something such as money, food, etc. KFC has jumped on board with this trend and created their own post. This would have been aimed it at their younger customers who are active on social media and aware of the underlying joke.
Choose the appropriate channels
The right channel to select will depend on the target audience. With this in mind, social media may not necessarily be the answer for all. It’s important to consider the strengths and weaknesses of each available channel and which ones will help maximise reach. Marketing expert, Yusef Bhana told CIO Magazine that it’s better to concentrate on the more effective channels than trying to be everywhere all of the time.
One of the most undoubtedly innovative public safety videos of all time was released by Metro. The ‘Dumb Ways to Die‘ campaign aimed at making young people more careful around trains. It used an animated video that goes for about 3 minutes, highlighting the many dumb ways there are to die, with being hit by a train – a very preventable death – among them. The video currently has well over 127 million views. Take a look below:
The rates of preventable accidents involving trains were going up, with this campaign, Metro was hoping to reduce that number by at least 10%. One of the issues they faced was that public service advertising is traditionally quite authoritative and construed as negative, which doesn’t work on young people. The use of YouTube as the primary channel meant that it was very easily accessible to their target demographic and the campaign went global. People started sharing the video through a variety of social mediums until eventually more than 56 million people saw it. The use of an integrated marketing approach which was not restricted to print media, TV and radio was new and almost unheard of, however was very fitting given the target audience. Young people had access to the smartphone app, the message is always there and easily accessible at any time. According to Metro Trains, the campaign contributed to a more than 30% reduction in “near-miss” which was overall, a great success. It may be a few years old now but it is certainley not forgotten.
Evoke an emotional response
Almost every viral campaign is somehow tied to a human emotion; excitement, happiness, fear, humour, etc. Emotional needs refer to the consumer’s social or psychological need for a product or a service. The example above from Metro used a number of emotions to illicit a response from its audience. Safety is the priority in this instance and dark humour was used as an influence and as a way of capturing the attention of the people watching.
The use of fear to illicit is a response is debatable the most effective form of emotional appeal, however the effectiveness is dependent on many variables. TAC ads are known for their graphic and fear evoking ad campaigns about road safety. The TAC 20 Year Anniversary TV ad montage is an example of how the effective these campaigns can be at provoking viewers.
Integrating these different emotions into your content can help your message resonate more effectively with your audience.
Encourage users to share!
A great post is of no benefit to anyone if no one gets to see it! The ability to share online content hasn’t been around for long but it has certainly made getting a message out there a lot quicker than conventional methods. It has been found that posts with images are more likely to be shared. A study conducted by Buzzsumo of over 100 million blog posts where it looked at the number of social shares each post got, and found several similarities between the most shared content. One of the elements that stood out the most as a recurring theme was the importance of visuals. The study also found that infographics were the most shared type of content beating out lists, how-to articles and even videos.
Last year, the headphone company, Beats by Dre, created the Straight Outta Compton meme to promote the new movie about the rise of rap group N.W.A. The meme generator inspires people to fill in the blank with their hometown in the signature design of N.W.A. Within 9 days of the site’s launch, over 7 million people visited the site, 6 million people created memes, and over the course of two days, #StraightOutta was retweeted more than 15,000 times per second. People and brands couldn’t help but relish the opportunity to get a little creative and silly. Here are some examples:
Let’s also not forget the important role that word of mouth plays in any context. Interestingly though, according to Forbes, only 7% of word of mouth is online. Most people think it’s all about Facebook, Twitter, and other social media but most word of mouth is actually done offline. Social media is great but don’t forget that face to face is the original social.
What are some of your favourite viral campaigns? What makes them so captivating? Leave your thoughts below guys, happy sharing!