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Viral marketing is probably the most challenging marketing technique that webmasters can approach in today’s flourishing digital environment. As the number of social media users is consistently growing, any type of business – whether it’s online or offline – could attempt to launch viral advertisements across all channels.
However, it’s impossible to predict whether your ad campaigns will go viral or not. We can define “viral content” as a piece of content developed by a brand/individual, which makes a person severely want to share with your relatives, close friends, or people you know. Developing a viral content campaign is a high-risk activity that predominantly leads to failure.
That’s right – don’t expect to go viral from your first attempt. Most of the social media campaigns that are expected to go viral will terribly disappoint. But for those that succeed, the benefits are huge.
If you’re looking to come up with the next big hit, we’re here to help. Launching a successful viral ad takes a little bit of planning and strategizing. The more you know, the better you’ll be able to apply. Still, without implementing and testing the results, all types of preparations will be useless. Therefore, take some notes, capture the most important insights, and go ahead and test on your own!
Prepare Before the Storm Hits (If It Hits)
A viral campaign needs to be organized properly, starting with one aspect that many marketing practitioners tend to neglect. The initial preparation is very important. You need to ensure that your website’s optimization is in good shape for the huge amount of visitors that’ll land on your pages. First off, check your hosting’s features to see how much traffic your website can handle.
Moreover, you also have to check for broken URLs and for annoying distractions that could prevent your users from listening to your calls-to-action. In addition to all this, your website should be optimized for mobile, as probably more visitors will enter your website using their mobile phones.
Have a Clear Marketing Objective
As any marketing campaign, your viral ad campaign should have a well-defined marketing objective. What do you want the effects of your viral success to be? The smartest brands understand that acquiring leads instead of sales will be much more profitable to them in the longer run.
Viral marketing is not about presenting products. Not at all (as you’ll see in the next subheading). As a matter of fact, it’s all about the feelings that they get once they share the content. Social status, altruism, love, compassion, or whatever it may be, it’s helping your business big time!
Try to keep a balance between your marketing objective and your content’s primary message, which should always be dedicated to the users, not to the marketing purpose.
Your Product Doesn’t Matter Here
Nobody cares about your product. Sad but true. People love to share things that make them feel something inside. Therefore, if your content inspires them, teaches them, helps them, or stimulates them, they’re going to remark it. When something is worth remarking, it is also worth sharing.
You need to come to the realization that a product-based approach will turn into nothing but failure. Understand that people never appreciate an obvious marketing material. Instead of selling through your viral ad, you’d better start thinking about your audience’s biggest needs. Serve value while keeping the content of your viral advertisement in close touch with your brand’s message.
Make Your Message Stand Out by Thinking Outside the Box
Purple Cow. If you’re familiar with Seth Godin’s works, you’ll understand how the majority of people perceive products and services. Basically, Godin’s idea is pretty simple: in a crowd of normal cows, one purple cow stands out and becomes remarkable. If it wouldn’t be purple, it would be boring. People always appreciate and follow the ones who have the courage to stand out.
It works the same with attention and ads. Do you want to grab attention? Be spectacular. Be worth remarking, and you’ll be rewarded. How? Through lots of news feed shares, and a lot of individual sharing through 1-to-1 messaging. Lots of people will see your content because you’ll bring something different to the table.
Simple and Unique
Even though the message of your content should be very well planned out with an objective and a strategy, you need to keep everything simple at the same time. Imagine that the internet’s population is of all kinds. Your viral ad could reach unimaginable audiences that might not be educated enough to understand complicated words or concepts.
Jeffrey Hudson, the Marketing Expert at Rush My Essay, suggests the following:
“When you prepare to go viral, prepare your content for an audience of 10th graders. Try to understand that every possible share is important, so everyone needs to assimilate your content’s message well enough to feel it. Keep it simple and unique.”
Visual Content Improves Your Odds to Go Viral
Around 61% of marketers have stated that visual content is absolutely essential to the success of their marketing campaigns. The same report (January 2017) suggests that visual content will become increasingly popular in the following years, and that’s already visible as we get closer to 2018.
For those of you who have a Facebook account, try to remember some of the viral videos that you’ve noticed on your news feed. Also, try to remember what your friends have recently shared with you through a private message – you can even go ahead and look.
Make a list of all the viral posts that you’ve stumbled upon and observe their characteristics. What are these posts? Images? Infographics? Videos? Once you pay attention with a true marketer’s eyes, you’ll be able to see what other people see. Try to empathize with your target audience while delivering them some remarkable visuals that’ll stimulate them to share.
Develop Remarkable Stories
Stories have been, are, and always will be an essential component of our daily communication. Everyone shares stories. You do it daily without even being aware of it. A story is basically a displaying of an event/action that happened in the past. It’s something you’ve seen, heard, remarked, or discovered. Something that is worth your attention, and the attention of others.
The majority of people would love to tell a good story. Why? Because it makes them look better in front of the audience that listens. It’s called “social status”, and people crave it even more than they crave for money. Developing great stories might be tougher than it looks like, but never impossible.
For a better understanding of storytelling, I’d suggest you check out Seth Godin’s work. I mention it again because he’s an expert copywriter that knows what he’s talking about, and every single marketer can benefit from the value of this individual’s resources.
Develop a Tempting Call-to-Action
A viral ad will have a big reach on social channels. However, for those people to actually reach your website, you need to develop effective calls-to-action. The content itself should not be promotional or contain any forms of “salesy” clues. In the description of your image/video, add a CTA that leads people back to your website.
Ideally, you should direct people to a squeeze page that will capture their personal information such as name, email, address, phone number, or whatever you want to capture. These leads will serve you very well in the future, as the next step is to convert them into customers through your emails.
Focus on Sparking Emotions
We’re all human beings, so we act according to our emotional states. If we’re emotional, we’re likely to change our personalities and behaviour. For example, if a video makes you cry or laugh, you’ll experience a strong emotional charge that will completely alter your present emotional state. When people become impressed and emotional, their first reaction would be to share the thing that made them feel different.
Videos with cute animals have big chances of becoming viral on social media. Why? Because those cute little animals are entertaining, they fill you up with positive vibes, and they show you something you’re not seeing every day.
I’d suggest you involve strong emotional triggers in both your advertisements and content. You should also try leveraging the power of negative emotions. Fear, sadness, melancholy, and pity can also be used to attract attention.
However, be very careful with the way you implement them in your overall campaign. Don’t let your brand’s reputation suffer due to the fact that your content’s message is not truly aligned with your brand’s message.
As I’ve already mentioned, viral marketing is the most unpredictable type of marketing. It’s hard, yet extremely rewarding. Let me tell you a secret. The more you focus on improving your process of developing viral ads the better your odds of success become. It’s not about a particular advertisement, but about the way in which your present and future ads will be developed.
Test, measure, optimize!