Viral Marketing is exactly how it sounds, using the power of social media to advance a campaign through content that easily makes it across the internet. You’re not human if you haven’t caught yourself sharing a funny video, cool “how-to,” or a sad post that touches your heart. When you do this, you’re actually helping a social media post go viral.
There are some “go-to” campaigns that represent how viral marketing works. Take the brand Poo~Pourri. I’m sure you remember their awesome “Girls Don’t Poo” campaign videos that hit social media in 2013 and amassed 278,000 shares in the first week. Do you remember the debate on whether the dress was white/gold or blue/black? Well, many brands used that viral picture to create their own campaigns. The same occurred with “Straight Outta” and #LoveWins. All elements that took the internet by storm by using viral components to help nurture shareable content.
So, what makes up viral content? Why does one post gain so much attention while another has three likes? The answer is simple. Viral content shares the same five elements no matter what the topic.
The Five Elements of Viral Marketing
It Must Be Current
Viral Marketing has to be tied to current happenings, trends, emotions, political landscape, hot topics, etc. Tapping into current news and topics gives background to the content promoted. It also draws upon the topics relevancy with the audience.
For brands, this current content may be tied to the introduction of a new product (Poo~Pourri), a shift in the market, a political position (#lovewins), or current viral topics (the dress/straight outta). No matter what is used to help influence the content, keeping it current is the first step in developing a viral campaign.
It Must Be Relevant
So, you’ve found a current topic that you think you can contribute to. The next step is ensuring that content is relevant to the audience. All content must be relevant, but in order for something to go viral, it needs to be relevant to a broader audience. This doesn’t mean it needs to appeal to a specific side, but instead, it should be something that draws conversation from both sides.
It Must Be Creative
The most successful viral campaigns are created by thinking outside-of-the-box – either using creative formats like videos, slideshows, GIFs, etc. It’s not just about the format though. The content must be creative. In the case of the biased strangers who took a DNA test and found serious similarities, the “viralness” of the content stemmed from our own biases against others even though we know it’s wrong. Content like this discusses topics that are taboo or not easily discussed. Ensuring content is current, relevant, and creative in topic and presentation is the turning point from static to almost viral.
It Must Be Purposeful
We have a current topic, that is relevant to the general public, and it’s formatted in a creative way. Next, we need to develop its purpose. The purpose is one of the most important elements, especially for brands. Why are we creating this viral campaign and what do we hope to get out of it? These are two questions that should be asked prior, during, and after a campaign to assess what exactly is happening.
For brands like Poo~Pourri, the purpose of their first viral campaign was to increase brand awareness. Since they were a new company, the viral content helped get their name out there while also introducing their main product. When you identify the purpose of your campaign, you can decide how it should be introduced to the audience.
It Must Be Shareable
Lastly, and most importantly, viral content must be easily shareable. Viral content has to act like a virus. It finds a host, is spread to those they come in contact with, and so on and so on. If the “virus” isn’t easy to “spread” then it reaches fewer people – reducing its efficacy. Making content shareable is about all of the previous four elements and introducing tools that help prompt people to engage.
Helpful Tools When Going Viral
A great tool for every blogger is the plug-in AddToAny. AddToAny integrates within your blog content and makes it easy for users to simply click on the platform they want to share and then click post. No copying link addresses, switching pages, or trying to craft a witty post. Other great features include its integration with Google Analytics and mobile-responsiveness.
It’s important to measure and track the effectiveness of your viral campaign. Aside from tools like Google Analytics and Google Search, there are other important elements that help a brand with viral content. First, brand the content. It is important for the viral content you create to easily link back to your business. Second, use links. You can measure how your links are doing by using tools like bit.ly to generate a trackable link. Thirdly, measure how many people visit the exact page your content is placed. If it’s a blog post, there are a ton of analytics that can be drawn by using a tool called Analytify.
Creating viral content is part strategy and part luck. There are variables that really can’t be controlled. However, if you use the elements we described and start by making content go viral with your immediate networks, chances are you’ll be somewhat, if not globally, viral.