Voila! How to Create Viral Marketing Campaigns

Sarah Dysthe

Everyone wants their next campaign to go viral. If you ask the people who experience a frenzy over their content on a regular basis, they’ll assure you it’s not that difficult. Fortunately, there is a lot information available to people who want to know what it takes to have the next hot topic.

Viral content typically includes most, if not all, of the following criteria:

  • A positive message

As a whole, people encounter negative situations on a daily basis. When people come across something positive or uplifting, they’re more likely to pass it on to people they know to spread the joy. Good-natured content gets more attention than negative or offensive material.

  • The evocation of high-arousal emotions

Research done by Jonah Berger suggested that the seven following emotions evoke primal, high-arousal emotions in people and, when targeted, aid in the rapid exposure of information: anger, anxiety, awe, fear, lust, joy, and surprise. Because these emotions are universally shared and elicit a physically emotional reaction, content that appeals to them has the highest response rate. The trick, however, is to target one emotion at a time. A video might appeal to both the awe and joy in a person, but it will do so in precise, deliberate ways so that each emotion occurs in full effect.

  • Useful and/or valuable subject matter

Content is more likely to be shared to mass audiences if it affords viewer value of some sort. Whether it includes business tips, life lessons, or a high-demand how to, people will latch on to information that can bring both themselves and their peers practical value.

Before creating a campaign, advertisers should ask themselves the following questions:

-Who is my audience?

-What do they care about?

-What can I show them?

-What do I want viewers to experience?

-How will I motivate viewers to share?

Once those questions have solid, founded answers, the next step is to translate an otherwise-normal marketing campaign into viral content. Here are some helpful hints:

  • Collaborate with publishers. Find out what they want to post, allow them to contribute to the content you’re providing, base your content off of your own or their exclusive research, don’t share someone else’s research.
  • Give people breaking news. Share the latest medical breakthrough, the hottest retail product on the market, exclusive video footage of the most recent natural disaster. The content needs to be fresh and relevant to viewers for them to take interest.
  • Include visuals. Researchers found that colored visuals increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80%.
  • Ego-bait. Allure to an exclusive audience. People living in a concentrated area. A specific age group, religious group, etc. the more targeted and the more you appeal to something that only involved this group, the higher the response rate.
  • Create a viral loop. Create content that other people will create unique content around. Your original content will be the foundation but they’ll include their own comment, take, etc.

Last but not least, remember these rules of thumb when running any online campaign:

  • Campaigns must be optimized for all traffic types. With mobile traffic steadily taking offer traditional media channels, all advertisements need to open properly and look appealing, no matter where a customer might see them.
  • Use the same amount on creating content as pushing it. Most people put all of their time into design and forget to spend an equal amount of time showing off their hard work.
  • Review old posts to see what did and didn’t work. The results may surprise you. Something that required more time and resources may not perform as well as something that took little effort but had wide consumer appeal.
  • Post things that will be relevant for a long time – think weeks, months, years ahead. Will people still care about this?
  • Post at 9am and 12pm EST. The basis behind this time window is that people on the East Coast are just getting to work while those out West are just getting up. Both are checking phones, emails, internet, etc. At noon, East Coasters are eating lunch and West Coasters are settling into their offices, but not quite ready to start the day. Again, both demographics are likely to be checking mobile and desktop devices for entertainment, retail and informational reasons.

While the above information seems easy enough, persistence matters most. Most people won’t be successful on their first try or even on their hundredth try. However, as most experts will agree, the continuous application of the above guidelines will eventually result in consistently valuable content that builds a loyal following and eventually drives the kind of traffic some people only dream about.


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