Viral marketing has become a common buzzword among marketers nowadays. Usually, when a person or brand wants to get fame on social media, they create content with the hope to go ‘viral.’ Simply put, viral marketing is the rapid sharing of content, primarily on social networks.
While many people consider viral marketing a 21st-century phenomenon, it actually goes back to the mid-90s, when Hotmail added branded email signatures in its outgoing messages to attract new subscribers. This campaign leveraged word-of-mouth marketing, social sharing, mass distribution, and referrals to grow its user base and drive brand awareness.
Since then, many brands, including Dove, Old Spice, Super Bowl, and Burger King, have used viral marketing techniques to expand their audiences. You may recall the ALS ice bucket challenge, where people posted videos having a bucket of ice water poured on their heads. This wildly successful viral marketing campaign helped the ALS association increase its funding for global research by 187%.
While some viral content spreads by luck, most successful viral campaigns result from careful strategy. Explore some viral marketing techniques below to benefit from this form of marketing:
- Embrace Data Visualization
Data visualization in infographics, interactive maps, videos, or graphs is an excellent way to make your target audience engage with and understand your content. With this in mind, create informative and visually-captivating graphical presentations to make your content go viral. However, a good story is necessary to make the presentations shareable and appealing.
The Cokenomics campaign by Netflix is one of the examples of viral marketing based on data visualization. With this campaign, Netflix sought to breathe life into the complicated structure of the Colombian drug trade via engaging infographics. For instance, Netflix illustrated the amount of cocaine that could fit in the belly of a pregnant woman or how much money Pablo could cram into an IKEA sofa.
The campaign’s well-designed visuals worked incredibly well, earning more than 100 thousand engagements and making Narcos one of the most mentioned Netflix Original shows for 2015.
- Engage Influencers
Social media outreach is among the marketing tactics that increase a brand’s chances of going viral. Essentially, viral marketing campaigns aim to reach as many as possible.
Influential personalities on TikTok, LinkedIn, and other social networks have a massive following and will boost the visibility of your viral content. Indeed, working with influencers can be more impactful than engaging celebrities in traditional marketing. To illustrate, about 56% of consumers prefer to follow ordinary people on social media platforms rather than celebrities.
A viral video posted by an influencer generates interest and momentum, as long as it is unique and relevant to their followers. To start, reach out to influencers in your niche and ask if they would try your product or service.
- Appeal to Emotions
When done right, emotions can strengthen your digital marketing strategy. Take the Kony 2012 YouTube video, for example, which sensitized viewers on the recruitment of child soldiers by the Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony. The footage stirred emotions via daring footage of child soldiers and got the attention of traditional media worldwide.
However, the marketing message behind viral ad campaigns can also be positive, heartwarming, and inspiring. For instance, the ‘Thank You, Mom’ campaign by Proctor & Gamble highlighted the relationship between many renowned Olympians and their mothers. The viral ad appealed to people’s emotions by showing how children draw in the strength of their mothers every day.
When using strong emotional drivers in any piece of content, keep the use of branding to a minimum as people may abandon it if it’s too salesy. Rather, consider how your products or services relate to issues that appeal to deep-seated emotions in your target demographic. Also, showcase the viral campaign on lobby digital signs to entertain waiting visitors.
- Make Your Content Shareable
Viral marketing works incredibly well in boosting a brand’s visibility to exponential heights. But, people need to share your content easily for it to spread exponentially across platforms. You can achieve shareability through a hashtag, such as Apple’s Shot on iPhone campaign or imagery that others can replicate.
Ideally, people should be able to share and download your viral messages easily or embed them on their sites. Additionally, the brand message should be simple enough for people to understand and encourage others to engage with it.
- Be Unexpected
Be bold and unusual if you want people to get excited about your viral campaign. You may recall the internet frenzy that accompanied the launch of the cronut by chef Dominique Ansel. Ansel fashioned the famous desert as a cross between the croissant and doughnut, which delighted social media users and increased traffic in his small business.
Nike’s Dream Crazy Campaign is another example of ingenious social media marketing. Nike sparked heated conversations on social media by featuring Colin Kaepernick in the ad and saw a 5% increase in its stock. The key takeaway of Nike’s campaign is to use strong emotional drivers that spark engagement.
Viral marketing is a cost-effective and efficient way to build brand awareness and increase engagement. While some viral content spreads due to sheer luck and good timing, most viral campaigns result from creative content marketing tactics. The viral marketing techniques above will improve your viral marketing efforts.