How To Conquer Viral Marketing

Written by - 07/10/2016

Viral Marketing is everywhere these days, and has been around for what seems like decades, rising in popularity in the late 90’s and snowballing ever since. The only problem is, it can be an exceptionally difficult talent for any business to master. Anybody who’s anybody has tried their hand at creating viral content – sometimes it works, and sometimes it misses the mark. Viral Marketing isn’t just about creating engaging content, or including cats in everything, it’s about manipulating your audience to get them where you want them – right in the feels.

Here’s the good news; Viral Marketing is far less ambiguous and frightening as you might expect, and it really can work. Yes, it’s still mysterious, and yes, it can be daunting, but by using these simple tips hopefully you can take the stress out of creating the ‘next big thing’.

Sharing Is Caring

Making your message easy to share might be common knowledge to some, but the last thing that you want to do is open the window whilst keeping the door closed. If people connect with your content then sharing it will be second nature, and restricting their ability to do that is only hindering your own progress. Social Media buttons, forwarding links, and embed codes are a great place to start to make sure you hit the ground running.

Avoid Creating Clickbait

The lines have been blurred in recent years between creating engaging content and using spammy and irrelevant headlines or CTAs with the only goal of increasing page views. Whether your content is an article, a website, a video or display ad, don’t fall into the trap of creating something without a clear goal in mind. One of the primary intentions of Viral Marketing is to build trust between your brand and your customer. Don’t take advantage of that trust.

Use the right STEPPS

Jonah Berger, expert on all things viral, social & trendy, and author of ‘Contagious’ has created an acronym to further deconstruct exactly how viral marketing can be used effectively, to avoid adding to the graveyard of failed attempts at audience engagement. These are:

  • Social Currency

Once you understand the psychology behind social transmission, you can learn to value what’s hot right now and generate content or build in features of your own products to create viral user growth.

  • Triggers

Whilst the remarkable might get us talking, doing something crazy isn’t always the best option. Environmental triggers and cues can help remind consumers of your product or idea. Any associations that a customer has with your product can help spark a reminder that you’re here and have something to offer.

  • Emotion

When we care, we share. A lot of companies get stuck thinking that if their product or idea isn’t inherently emotional then they don’t stand a chance of creating an emotional response from their consumers. The truth of the matter is that anyone can craft contagious content, and as long as it ties in with your product in some way, then you can connect their reaction to your product. You have to think about what makes people talk about & share content, building that certain something into your product or messaging.

“Any product can be remarkable or emotional if you think about what makes people feel emotion or what makes them think something is remarkable, and then build that into your product or idea”.

Jonah Berger (‘Knowlege@Wharton’ Podcast)

  • Public

The value that you put in the public cannot be undersold. For every one person that engages with your product or shares a link to your viral content, there could be any number of individuals alongside them that may be influenced to do the same. The truth is, people are far more likely to get involved if they see others doing something too.

  • Practical Value

Practical Value is important in that it gives value to the message that you are passing along. If somebody considers information useful, or of practical benefit to them or their peers, then they are far more likely to engage with the content and pass it along further. Insider knowledge is a huge provider of practical value. Content such as hints, tips or ‘life hacks’ can serve to engage and convince others to share, in order to help the people they know.

  • Stories

To put it bluntly, people don’t want to share things that look like ads. But they will share really engaging content, even if that content happens to relate to a brand. The more you brand something, and the more it looks like an ad, the less willing people will be to talk about and share it. When you design content you need to account for social currency and value, but you can hide the brand or the benefit inside a story.

Trust Word-of-Mouth

Word-of-Mouth can be slow, but overwhelmingly effective once you hit that sweet spot. The data suggests that only 7% of word-of-mouth is actually done online. So, whilst social media can be an essential part of making your viral campaign work, don’t underestimate the influence and impact of face to face conversation in building your audience.

Controversy Doesn’t Always Love Company

Just because you want to make something memorable and remarkable, don’t fall into the trap of making something too controversial for the sake of getting hits. Many brands wind up finding this out the hard way. Don’t run the risk as coming across as desperate for attention. On the flipside, if your idea is strong enough and provides the right kind of emotional response, don’t shy away from it either.

With that, you have just a few points to help point you in the right direction. All you are is one good idea away from introducing the next ‘Crazy Frog’ to the world. God help us all.