Times and viral economics have changed to the point where millions spent on endorsements from people like Oprah can fall flat, and yet having somebody like Bill Burr accidentally riff on your product can result in an unprecedented amount of exposure (his Zip Recruiter stuff is still being reshared even six years after its first appearance). Thankfully, the days of click/share baiting are dying, which leaves room for better and more thought out viral marketing campaigns from conscientious merchants and service providers.
1. Target “What People Want” Over Targeting People Themselves
An advertising campaign should focus on targeting in a big way. You should know who your potential customers are, what they are about, where they spend their money and why. However, if you want an effective viral campaign, you need to concentrate almost exclusively on what people want.
What people want can be so tiny that it seems inconsequential, and yet it can make all the difference.
Take the example of somebody looking for help in completing a level in the video game MGSV. There may be hundreds of different tips videos giving the same advice, but the gamer wants to play rather than spending 25 minutes watching a video guide, so he or she picks the shortest possible video. The user wants the shortest video, which is why the shortest has 75,000 views and the second shortest has 200 views.
2. Don’t Ask People What They Want
Again, asking people and getting opinions is great for market research during a normal marketing campaign, but is useless for viral advertising. People think they know what they want, and it usually includes wanting what they already have.
For example, ask them what sort of office chair they like, and they will probably describe the one they already have. Then, when you present them with what they think they want, they don’t buy it because they already have it. This is often why some TV shows work, and yet their TV-clones on other networks do not.
3. People Are Immune to Shock
News networks such as CNN will shout about any idea, no matter its newsworthiness, just so they may shock people into watching, and most Internet users are now immune to such shock tactics. Some call it “click-baiting” or “share baiting” but it boils down to the same cheap shock tactics.
Instead, take a more dedicated approach like Fox News. Take an idea and build on it. Do not try to run a one-hit-wonder viral campaign with a single meme or video. Instead, build the fires of interest by pushing the same viral idea.
For example, when Fox covered the Russian invasion of Ukraine, more and more people were checking in every day to see different types of news, such as insider reports from Russian intelligence, and the day after it was tactical maps, and the day after it was victim’s stories, and so forth.
4. Give People More
What is viral marketing? Most people think of viral campaigns as single elements, but the best viral marketing campaigns are multifaceted, where a single element is merely the hook that grabs the user.
For example, the Smart car “hook” was a viral video that showed their car being hit by a wrecking ball with somebody inside it. The person walked away unharmed. The video hooked people, and Smart allied this video with web pages and other videos showing amazing Smart facts. There were videos where they showed the tensile strength of their car shells by hanging weights off of it and pages and pages of information about how the car engine used so little fuel.
5. Stop Aiming for Evergreen Content
It seems like evergreen content is a wise investment, and it is, but not for viral content. Viral content touches the moment. Viral content is about the right thing at the right time, and that “something” is very rarely evergreen.
For example, somebody paid £146,511 for Geri Halliwell’s (Ginger Spice) Union Jack dress. Do you think anybody would pay that amount these days?
6. Do Not Use Expensive Influencers for Your Viral Marketing Campaigns
Working off the point about avoiding evergreen content, there is no need to pay big influencers a lot of money. It is far better to have many smaller influencers post at around the same time.
Big and powerful Influencers are good for brand building and regular marketing campaigns, but your viral campaign will only be a flash in the pan. It will not be evergreen, and therefore there is no need to pay bigger influencers for social media viral marketing.
The notion that viral content is powered by big influencers is a joke. It may have been the case 10 years ago when big influencers dominated, but online media is now so fast that your customer will be watching “Influential Eddie” one minute and “Neddy Nobody” the next.
Forget about the people who rank first on social media or search engines and consider the many, “many” runners up who will charge you far less for sharing your content/message.
7. Stop Copying Others
You can go online right now and read about hundreds of successful viral marketing campaign examples, and they will teach you nothing. Those stories are no different from the weather service telling you it rained yesterday. You don’t know why it rained, and the service offers no way of recreating it.
The problem with copying others is that it seems so right and correct. In many cases, you can see why a campaign was popular, and you probably think you can recreate it, but you cannot.
Successful viral campaigns are like hitting the correct drum note at the correct time. Those who hit it make it seem easy and powerful, while those who miss the beat or hit the wrong drum are simply making noise and asking people to pay attention.
If anything, you should use trial and error as well as experimentation to pioneer your own viral campaign.
Conclusion – Viral Marketing Campaigns and Viral Economics Have Changed
Be careful when taking advice on viral content because things have changed over the years. Shock used to work, funny used to work, and sexy used to work, but these days people are immune.
What used to seem like reasonable advice is now tired and old. Ask the experts at Sweetgrassmarketing.net about individual viral marketing campaigns that take an idea and build on it so that the surge in popularity may be correctly exploited.