Viral Marketing Can Work for You
Viral videos are everywhere these days. Not since camcorders were released back in the ’80s has there been such massive public obsession with amateur videos of, well—everything.
With so much pressure to create the next internet phenomenon, marketers have to kick it up a notch. The competition is stiff, to say the least. What with angry cats, buckets of ice, and skateboarders doing insane stunts, marketer’s backs are up against the wall to get attention.
In the professional realm, there is a formula for developing rapidly circulating content and all bets are off. Master viral marketers like Geico and Samsung have figured out what it takes. What can you do to jump on the viral marketing bandwagon?
There’s No Such Thing as Impartial in Viral Marketing
The best viral campaigns make no apologies. There is no middle-of-the-road to appease everyone’s interests. You WANT to ruffle feathers and get people talking. You want to create an open debate. People should either love or hate, agree or disagree, laugh or cry, or feel happy or sad about their experience with you.
Whatever the message is, commit to it and make a stand. Remember, viral marketing is about evoking emotional responses from your audience, both good and bad. Negative emotions can often return positive results. So don’t be afraid to push boundaries, and hold on to your idea with conviction.
There is a fine line, however, between controversial and poor taste. Take Malaysia Airlines, in the wake of two tragedies and loss of life, embarked on a viral campaign in 2014, “My Ultimate Bucket List.” The company promoted a contest asking people to answer the question, “What and where would you like to tick off on your bucket list, and explain why?”
Although the contest was only available in Australia and New Zealand, the campaign generated global shock and anger at the obvious distasteful connection a bucket list has with death. The campaign experienced massive public outrage at the lack of compassion for the families and friends who had lost loved ones in the tragedies.
This is an example of how timing is everything. Demonstrating poor taste is negative attention nobody wants. It might have been a great campaign had Malaysia Airlines waited for an appropriate amount of time to elapse.
Surprise Viewers with the Unexpected
Nothing evokes emotion from an audience more than the element of surprise. Shake it up with something completely different to your usual way of exposing people to your brand. It gets people talking and attracts their attention, especially those who haven’t heard of your company yet.
Successfully executing the element of surprise more than once will lead to something positive—your audience starts looking forward to seeing what you’ll do next.
Blendtec is a great example of this. In 2007, the company launched a series of videos on YouTube called, Will it Blend. Almost instantly, the videos went crazy-viral, not because of the blender per-se, it was the insane objects being blended—cell phones, 2x2s, glass balls, and more. The latest objects to take a trip in the blender are an Apple watch and an entire rake.
To date, Blendtec still has a large following of people checking in to see what they’ll put into the blender next. The only negative side effect is the pressure on the marketing team to consistently come up with bigger and better things to impress its audience. Not a bad problem to have, really.
Create a Story, Not an Advertisement
Craft a story for a viral content instead of focusing on your company or your products. What you’re selling should almost be an afterthought. You want to draw attention to your story with interesting images, characters, plot lines in videos, etc. When you take this approach, you’re appealing to the public’s need to be entertained.
It will pique a natural curiosity about your product or service. Moreover, if all goes well, you leave the door open to follow up with sequels.
The television network, TNT took the element of surprise and story to unprecedented levels with its “TNT Add Drama” stunts in Belgium and the Netherlands by placing a large button in crowded city areas with a sign over it reading, “Push to add drama.”
When unsuspecting passersby made the choice to push the button, an elaborate movie-like action/adventure drama unfolded right before their eyes, even making them part of the action with mock kidnapping and big explosions.
While that may be over-the-top and cost advertisers into the millions to pull off—which likely something an average company couldn’t afford—it definitely proves how the unexpected works in viral marketing along with a great story. The videos of these stunts pulled more than 65-million views combined.
Share and Share Alike
No matter what your approach to viral marketing is, you want to encourage sharing of your content on many levels. It should be easy for viewers to share and comment across the board on the internet. Make your content available on multiple platforms. Dedicate a Facebook page, Instagram, and a message board where people can go to leave feedback and share their thoughts with others.
Finally Hit Record
The bottom line viral marketing is building an emotional response in the viewer that makes them want to share how they’re feeling and what they see to create an unending chain reaction across the internet.
With careful planning and research viral marketing DOES work for you.