The art of creating a viral marketing campaign
By Douglas Anderson
As a marketer, we have all tried to create a viral marketing campaign, however, what precisely triggers virality still remains a mystery to many marketers. Most of the time, things on the web go viral because of a snowball effect: someone sees something they like, then shares it, then some of their friends see it and share it, and so right now. Remember Rahul Dravid’s famous #IndranagarKaGunda ad for CRED or “Not just a Cadbury ad” featuring Shahrukh Khan, both of which were shown at an event/festival but stood out as newsworthy even after these occasions have passed due to their uniqueness and commitment.
Figuring out how things go viral is easy – figuring out why is the hardest part. All examples of viral marketing, deliberate or accidental, target two types of customer segments: repeat customers and maybes. A campaign goes viral if the brand is able to convert “maybe” into “yes”, thus penetrating a new market by expanding its reach and customer base. By studying and running several viral campaigns, we learned that just like building a snowball, you have to start with a solid base so that the campaign doesn’t fall apart and the “maybe” turns into a solid “yes”.
Here are three ways to do it –
1. Use social media correctly
With the widespread adoption of social media platforms and the role they play, it is no surprise that when it comes to marketing a product, service or brand, businesses prefer online platforms over -above all. When creating a social media campaign, brands should start by identifying their audience and promoting content on the right platform that their audience prefers to use on a regular basis. A viral social media campaign contains at least two of these ingredients: originality and engagement – one that is unique and one that evokes emotion. Today, audiences have evolved from being content receivers to content creators, distributors and commentators. Therefore, marketers often rely on the help of an influencer, who has the power to influence the purchase decision of others; be their spokesperson. Yet this is not enough, brands need ordinary people to engage. Influencers can be the core, but to make a snowball you have to collect the smallest regular snowflakes. This brings us to our next point.
2. Create user-generated content
Most brands focus on advertising and influencers for their campaign, what they miss is getting their customers (ordinary people) talking. Getting the maybes to actually pay attention to content on social media is about getting ordinary people to recommend what they should watch to their friends. With the constant struggle to be seen online and the competition for public attention, it’s safe to say that there is no other type of content more authentic than UGC (User Generated Content ) created by customers. UGC offers customers a unique opportunity to participate in the growth of a brand instead of being a spectator. Ultimately, people trust others, so it’s essential to think of UGC as modern-day word of mouth. Most educated brands and campaigns have gone viral because they made sure to get UGC upfront to help them get off the ground. With the help of specialized platforms, companies can create and sponsor communities, and promote contests and rewards to generate buzz and capture a large audience. These platforms have the resources that brands are looking for and their efforts are certainly yielding good results.
3. You need to be seen everywhere
The final and probably most important step in converting “maybe” to “yes” is to be seen in multiple outlets. From the moment an audience wakes up until they sleep, the brand campaign should be the topic of conversation for those around them. The key to virality is to be visible to as many potential customers as possible. Audiences need to wake up in the morning and see the campaign on their news app and find a PR piece of the brand, see a social media influencer talking about it, and receive DMs from friends recommending them to see and share the campaign, etc. And so on. This is precisely how the snowball rolls. Due to the reach of PR, marketers often turn to PR to create a lasting impact on the reputation and public image of the brand, thereby bringing the campaign to a substantial audience and adding to its virality. .
All facets of marketing (UGC, social media, PR) work best when they work together. By strategically developing each tactic, a brand can reach different parts of the audience, creating not only viral campaigns, but also long-term brand passion.
The author is co-founder, Brandie
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