Having a social media campaign go viral is nirvana to any marketer. Yet all the creative juice power in the world can’t guarantee a blog post, video, or e-mail will catch on like wildfire.
The reality is you can’t manufacture it or force it. One of the biggest misconceptions, or perhaps viral myths, is the belief that you can create a viral campaign. The confusion lies in the fact that “going viral” is a result of your marketing campaign, as opposed to being the campaign itself.
When you ask successful marketers what makes a campaign go viral, they’ll tell you that there isn’t any one particular element that determines whether the idea will take hold. Yet you’ll just know it when you see it.
In lieu of an actual proven formula for viral campaigns, here are three elements to consider for your next campaign with the goal of attracting more than your average share of readers or viewers.
The content needs to come from real people aiming to communicate with other real people. Avoid corporate speak and dress codes that may appear too buttoned up to more effectively reach the average consumer.
You can genuinely stir emotions in your audience by relating to real life experiences. You don’t have to lose sight of your small business mission yet you can illustrate how you, your organization, or your customers impact a person’s life.
We all have more than enough options available to stimulate our brains these days. If you’re considering a visual campaign, be sure to keep it short and action-oriented. You don’t have to create a dizzying experience for your audience, but any type of physical and/or fun activity will retain viewers and get people sharing socially.
On the flip side, steer clear of the following if you truly want to capture a wider audience.
4. Don’t try too hard
Overproduced content, especially videos, are almost too obvious in their attempt to attract attention. When you think back to some of the most successful viral videos, you’ll notice they’re fun, they stick to a simple idea, and they’re typically shot with lower-end recording devices. For example, consider the popularity of the E*TRADE baby or the Coca-Cola and Mentos experiment.
5. Don’t copycat
If last week’s or last year’s hot viral campaign was the talk in social media circles, that’s a good indication to not reuse those elements in your marketing efforts.
6. Don’t call something dead
One of the oldest marketing devices is to declare a trend or market segment dead. If a product or movement is hot, the counter argument is to call it dead to draw attention to the company that made the statement. This concept has shown traction in the past; unfortunately, this idea has been done to death (see above, “Don’t copycat”).
As you head into your next marketing brainstorming meeting, resist the urge to predict that your upcoming campaign will go viral. Instead, approach the idea generation process from the reader or viewer’s point of view and keep authenticity, emotional appeal, and action in mind.