Every day we hear all about viral marketing, a new viral video and content that spreads at the speed of light. But what exactly is it? And how did it get to be viral? Is it due to a viral product or viral advertising, viral campaigns or simply luck, that randomly makes something such a big hit. Viral content in digital marketing, usually has a well-designed viral strategy behind it, but virality is, in part, also due to luck, creativity and preparation.
What is viral marketing ?
Viral marketing is a business strategy that uses existing social networks to promote a product. Its name refers to how consumers spread information about a product with other people in their social networks, much in the same way that a virus spreads from one person to another.
Viral marketing typically supplies its audience with something of value for free. This can be something as simple as an amusing song or game. Whatever the viral content is, it must encourage people to share with others so as many people as possible receive the content’s message.
- Viral Marketing is Low cost. What characterizes viral campaigns is that the users do a significant part of the work for the brand, which drastically cuts down the costs of dispersion. It is unnecessary to buy advertising or media space.
- Potential of great reach. A viral video on the Internet has the ability to reach a huge international audience without having to invest a ton of money or make any extra effort. Due to this, a small company or even a private individual can go extremely viral.
- It is not invasive. In viral marketing, the social media user is the one making the decision to participate and share content, so it lessens the possibility of the brand coming across as invasive. Like this, the perception of the brand and the interaction are significantly better, compared to more classical forms of advertising.
- It helps build up your brand. If we really hit the bull’s-eye in terms of creativity, we are creating content so incredible that users themselves decide to share it and, hence create a personal connection with your brand. It is without a doubt an extremely powerful tool when it comes to branding and awareness.
Perhaps nothing is as effective and efficient in spreading your message as a viral marketing campaign. The idea behind viral marketing is to inspire people to spread your message for you. It’s been estimated that a successful viral campaign can have 500-1000 times more impact than a non-viral campaign.
What do most viral marketing campaigns have in common?
1) They’re organic
In the case of any sort of trend, whether or not something gets shared around is ultimately decided by your audience.
Content spreads organically. That’s how viral marketing works.
Oftentimes, it’s about being at the right place at the right time (or rather, saying the right thing at the right time). You can’t really explain memes or crazes such as the “does pineapple belong on pizza” debate.
That said, marketers can set up their content for sharing by having a pulse on social trends (more on how you can achieve that later).
2) viral marketing campaigns are timely
Simply put, trends come and go.
Although viral marketing campaigns have the potential to leave an impression on customers or the public at large, people have pretty short attention spans for these types of memes, hot topics and trends.
By the time one trend blows up, we’re often looking for the next craze. For example, how much longer until the now-ubiquitous “Woman Yelling at Cat” meme runs its course?
Brands should be wary of trying to repeat another viral campaign or exhaust a popular trend. Just because something’s hot now doesn’t mean it’ll have staying power for years to come. It’s the reason why brands aren’t still parodying the “Harlem Shake” or “Gangnam Style.”
3) They’re bold
Bear in mind there’s an inherent risk involved with viral marketing campaigns and tactics.
Going viral means doing something that grabs the attention of the public. That doesn’t happen by accident, nor does it happen by playing it safe.
However, it could have also been perceived as being too edgy or “trying too hard” in a different era. It likewise might not seem like much out of the ordinary if it came out today.
Not all viral marketing campaigns are controversial, but they tend to be out of left field.
And with that, we uncover the big potential downside of viral marketing: going viral for the wrong reasons.
The Best Viral Marketing Techniques
1. Target the appropriate audience and channels
The very first step to develop a viral marketing campaign is to find out who your targeted audience are and where your target audience lives online.
Nothing goes viral on its own, you need to send the right message to the right people. Your message needs to create the interest, if you want them to share with others.
The channel is equally important as because if you are marketing in a wrong channel then you won’t be able to reach your targeted audience. If you are unable to reach the targeted audience then you won’t be able grow the interest.
2. Viral Techniques: Create videos
Another excellent way to go viral is by making a video. A video content can make your viewers engage in your product and experience.
If you add a video on YouTube or Daily motion, then you can share that video with your friends. If they find it interesting and useful they will share it as well.
Eventually, the video becomes popular, it can end up spreading all over the internet.
Moreover, if your video is really interesting then people will embed your video on their websites or blogs.
As a result, people will not only watch your video from video sharing platforms but also they will see your video from different websites. This will make it even more popular.
The thumb role for making a video viral is the more shocking, memorable or funny your video is, the more likely it is to go viral.
3. Do something unpredictable
The title explains itself.
If you want people to notice your marketing campaign, you need to do something unpredicted – something different.
People won’t bother to have a look if they know someone has done it before. People always want to see or learn new things.
Forget about trying to make it looks cool – everyone does that.
Forget about trying to promote your product/service as just being great – others are doing that too.
Careers in viral marketing
Viral marketing requires careful planning and a team with a strong understanding of modern media. This means there are many career opportunities in the field, including:
What do they do?
The majority of viral marketing campaigns involve Internet platforms. Any company that wants to succeed in viral marketing needs the services of a skilled web designer to create websites and other online materials. Web design is a highly technical field involving several computer programming languages and a good sense of visual composition.
Education and Skills
A web designer should have a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing, computer science, or new media, or an arts degree in design. In addition to a resume with computer-focused work in it, web designers often have to provide work samples demonstrating their ability to create websites.
What do they do?
A viral campaign is only as good as the content it wants people to share. Content specialists create materials like videos, games, blog posts, and other things consumers will want to share with others. This requires a diverse range of skills in new media, creativity, and communications.
Education and Skills
Content specialists should have bachelor’s degree in marketing, communications, public relations, or business. Previous experience in a media-focused position is very helpful as well.
What do they do?
Most forms of marketing, viral strategies among them, benefit greatly from research into the trends and habits of consumers. A market researcher reads existing consumer data and conducts original research to determine what consumers want and how to reach them. These tasks demand great attention to detail, computer literacy, and strong communication skills.
Education and Skills
Market researchers should have a bachelor’s degree in marketing, business, psychology, sociology, or data analysis. It is useful to also have a background in database management or statistical analysis.
Does viral Marketing make sense for your brand?
Let’s be honest: going viral in the traditional sense is tough.
That said, there’s plenty to learn from the principles of viral marketing and what it takes to produce content that catches fire.
The tips above and tools such as Sprout can help you keep a constant pulse on what your audience wants and which trends to watch.