How to make something go viral

Viral marketing is an excellent way to ensure your marketing message is heard and remains at the forefront of the minds of your target audience. A successful viral marketing campaign is one that be recollected in the memory banks months and years after the buzz has diminished.

Viral campaigns that we recollect include Tangos’ “You just got slapped”, footballer Thierry Henry’s “Hey Bobby, what’s the French for Va Va Voom” catch phrase for Renault (it’s important to note “Va Va Voom” made it to Oxford Dictionary!) and Dr Peppers’ “What’s the worse the could happen” is also memorable.

Thanks to modern media and marketing, it is not only the large companies who can make something go viral, small organisations and even individuals with no business interest can make something go viral just for fun! Here are some techniques to achieve this…

Viral Tools

Your message/content must have an element of “viral worthiness”, that is, it has to appeal to the viewers as only then it will be shared. Having said that, the necessary ‘conditions’ needed to make something go viral is very accessible. Vine is arguably the easiest way to spread a viral video, the app is practically made for viral purposes (and the short attention span we have). A Vine is a 6 second long looping video that contains something funny, witty and memorable. The fact that the video loops means it won’t stop playing until the user exits the video, hence an excellent way to get your message well grounded.

Internet meme’s are another brilliant example that combine text and image to send out a particular message. The meme itself is a picture which has text written on it. Usually the text mimics or manipulates the image in a specific way. The advantage of meme’s is that it is very easy to make and they’re a whole host of websites dedicated to creating your own memes such as this one.

Twitter hashtags are words or phrases that are written without a space with a hash key in front of the text, for example, #ThisIsAHashtag. Though hashtags were exclusively used on Twitter, they’re also utilised on Facebook and Instagram. In our opinion hashtags for Twitter are a pre-cursor in making something go viral primarily because you can post a Vine or a meme with a particular hashtag to caption it with in your post text. Hashtags are a type of metadata tag hence one can search all posts that contain a specific hashtag. Many businesses run online competitions by prompting users to enter using a unique hashtag. Hashtags are additionally used to promote a specific cause, group all discussions of a particular event and virally spread a certain catchphrase. In fact we have even witnessed tweets with no hashtag go viral, thus Twitter in general is a good ‘virally’ environment!

Harnessing Viral Tools

Now that you are aware of the tools out there that help in making something go viral, we explain how you can harness them and use them to your advantage. It is imperative that you are constantly on top of your game regarding events and trends in your business and market sector, do not underestimate the value of being first, especially when your aims is viral. At the same time be creative as news not directly related to your organisation can still be manipulated to create a link. For example, Luis Suarez’ infamous bite at a match during the World Cup (he bit an opposition player on the shoulder), played into the hands of many restaurants and snack manufacturers suggesting that he would be better off taking a bite out of their food if he was hungry. Despite their efforts, our personal favourite is from Specsavers highlighting the difference between Chillieni, the name of the player Suarez bit, and the dish Cannelloni, claiming he ‘should have gone to Specsavers’. Although, this is an obvious play on words it is still very clever by Specsavers because both player and dish are Italian, adding more reason for Suarez’ ‘confusion.’

It is not vital that the organisation themselves must create something from scratch. Monitor the hashtags and keywords that are relevant to you and create something around that, which will ensure your content appears when users search the hashtag. Furthermore, a viral element does not only have to be something that is just shared and passed around the alleys of the internet, it can also prompt a user to interact. Charities are a good example of this, the most recent viral campaigns include the ‘no makeup selfie’, which raised awareness of cancer by asking women to take a selfie without make up, donate to Cancer Research UK and then nominate others to do the same. The ALS ice bucket challenge achieved a similar accolade, raising awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, albeit by a more unorthodox means, involving people in a challenge of throwing a bucket of ice over themselves, which is recorded and shared.

A link to sales

You might be thinking that viral campaigns sound like a whole lot of fun, but do they contribute to a growth in my sales? There is business sense in creating viral campaigns. A successful viral campaign increases the awareness of your business and brand and creates online crowds of fans. As a result your website visitors will be on the rise and, overall, a greater chance of a user-merchant transaction.

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