Week after week, I feast my eyes on a steady stream of viral content ranging from hip-hopping grandmas and Chewbacca Mom to Sad Papaw and Grumpy Cat. A video. A photo. A tweet. These pieces of content become internet sensations overnight. More often than not, the people behind the content have no idea what they just posted will be shared by hundreds of thousands, if not millions.
In the marketing world, going viral is something you strive for. You work ‘round the clock. You want your brand to be recognized and shared by millions. You’ve put in the time, effort, your team puts together an out-of-the-box marketing campaign and it’s launched. You wait. At that point, you probably think going viral is on the same level as you winning the next billion dollar lottery jackpot.
It’s not like that. Although there isn’t a guaranteed avenue of achieving viral content or foolproof methods, finding your niche and creating some buzz isn’t exactly out of reach.
1. Push some buttons. The author of Buzz Marketing, Mark Hughes, highlights some buttons to push that will ruffle feathers and get people riled up. Those include taboo, secrets, remarkable, hilarious, unusual and outrageous. Keep in mind, the pushing buttons theory only works when done appropriately. When you push buttons, people talk, they get fired up and they share.
2. Get to know your audience. Creating viral content depends a lot on knowing your audience and presenting material they can relate to. A few years ago, Dove launched their Real Beauty Sketches Campaign. This campaign was aimed at a specific demographic. Women. The focus was body image issues. It went viral. Millions of people shared this video because they could relate to the issue at hand.
3. Be human. When you keep it real, in the raw and unedited, you create connections. Most people aren’t looking for professionally produced and overdone content. If the people who view your content can find common ground, they’ll share and comment. If you can evoke some sort of emotional response, that’s even better.
4. No one likes copycats. Your content should be original. Too often, viral content is copied in hopes of obtaining the same success. The odds are, it won’t happen. What will happen is you’ll lose credibility.
5. Don’t try to please everyone. It won’t happen. Norman Arvidsson nailed it when he said, “Viral content is not synonymous with well-received content. It’s simply content that evokes reactions and moves people to share it. If the reaction of your readers ranges from “that’s nice” to “somewhat interesting” you aren’t viral. People who create viral content know you can’t always be safe. You have to have strong opinions, and be willing to express them. The point of “going viral” is to earn shares and links and to create conversation. This works just as well if people engage you because they disagree with you as it does if people like your opinions.”
6. Keep an eye on what your customers are posting. A golfer at the Buffalo Creek Golf Course near St. Petersburg, Florida created viral content when he took a video of a giant alligator crossing the course. People went crazy over this video. The reactions were all over the charts including accusations that the alligator was a fake. Regardless of what people were saying, this golf course is in the spotlight.