Branding

Viral marketing ideas

By Mark Ainsworth

Although still a fairly recent term, talking about something ‘going viral’ is an everyday phrase today. Whilst there are plenty of forms of marketing which have success in different industries, viral marketing is the holy grail of marketing techniques.

Instead of a company obviously and actively trying to advertise to their target demographic, with viral marketing their audience picks it up and advertises amongst themselves through sharing, commenting and talking about the product or service online. This achieves visibility for the company that, if they were to pay for it, could cost costs tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds. So, it is no wonder it is every marketeers dream outcome.

What is viral marketing?

The term ‘viral’ means exactly what it sounds. The message, brand or product that you are trying to generate interest in is picked up online and spread like a virus through large groups of people.

Usually this will happen quickly and intensely, via social media, text messaging, videos and word of mouth your message will be spread via your target audience sharing it to their friends, the friend of those friends and so on, massively increasing the reach of your content. Often an advertisement will begin on one social media channel, such as YouTube, and then be shared across other channels until it is seemingly omnipresent across the internet.

Viral marketing is one of the most successful forms of marketing as it offers significant value to the viewer as well as the advertiser, making it more likely that they will want to share it with their friends. If your audience can enjoy an in-joke with their peers as a result of your advertisement, your brand will remain at the forefront of their minds for a long time.

What are the advantages of viral marketing?

  • Huge reach potential. Without having to spend a lot of money or work hard on a marketing strategy, a video or post that goes viral has the potential to reach an enormous international audience simply through shares.
  • Cheap. Although you will likely have to pay to put your advertisement together, there is no significant outlay for advertising space in the physical world. Internet users use their own pages as your advertising space, at no cost to you.
  • Builds brand awareness. If you manage to create an advertisement that goes viral, it adds a great deal of social proof to your brand. With internet users choosing to share your content, they feel connected to it in some way and will value it more.
  • Non-invasive. The option to share your content is always entirely up to the user and does not feel pressured, meaning that they are less likely to shut down in the way that people tend to when faced with more overt advertising methods.

Viral marketing ideas

Make fascinating videos

One of the most frequent routes to ‘go viral’ is to create a video that others will want to share. There are three main rules that advertisers should follow when attempting to create a viral video:

  • Avoid obvious promotion. Videos that are trying to make a sale can feel disingenuous and will quickly turn people off. Some of the best viral videos only mention the brand at the end, leaving people guessing about what it was about. It is this that gets people talking, and wanting to share the video with their friends. A video which comes straight out trying to make a sale is likely to irritate people more than anything.
  • Tell a story. Being told a story puts your entire brain to work, lighting up everything from your sensory cortex to the insula – a part of the brain connected with relating to others. A video which tells a story helps people to remember your message, and even relate to it on a human level.
  • Do something unexpected. The most popular viral videos are the ones which shock or surprise the audience by doing something that they didn’t expect. It is important to be brave with these decisions and, as long as you stay on-brand, there is nothing wrong with shaking things up a bit.

Appeal to emotions

The thing that makes internet users share a video, poster or post above anything else is its emotional appeal. It is a human impulse to want to share an emotional experience with others so, when we see something that makes us feel a strong emotion, we want the people around us to experience it as well.

Advertisers can capitalise on this in a number of ways. Emotional does not have to mean sad, in fact positive emotional experiences overwhelmingly garner more attention than negative ones. On top of that it is almost certainly better for your company to be associated with a positive emotion than a negative one

Influencer marketing

Whilst the word ‘influencer’ didn’t mean anything just a few short years ago, influencer marketing is one of the most lucrative forms of marketing around today. Influencers are people who work in or around your industry that have a strong and active following on social media. They can be celebrities but more often than not are just people that are talented in some way and so have built up a lot of fans and followers.

An influencer has the opportunity to take your viral marketing campaign and make it a success in just one share, but you have to be careful how you go about it.

For a start, you want to choose influencers who are relevant to your brand and industry. You should also ensure that what you have to share is interesting and will be something that their followers would want to see, so that there is a point in them sharing it. Finally, you should offer the influencer one of your products for free, as this taps into the word-of-mouth recommendation angle that helps people to trust you and your brand.

Immersive content

Not only should you be looking for content which makes your audience feel connected emotionally to you and your brand, but you should also think about literally putting them into your advertising.

One of the best things about social media is that you have the ability to get audiences to take part in the experience via Augmented Reality (AR). This would include filters and other forms of media that allows the user to add their own words, photos or drawings. Once a user sees themselves involved in the experience then they are that much more likely to share it with their friends and family.

You could create a filter, lens or app which allows the user to add their own photos, or simply have part of your advert be able to interact with them by name. Getting audiences to add their own input to your content increases the amount of ‘active’ time spent with your advert and, in turn, your brand.

Conclusion

Don’t focus to much on making something go viral, just concentrate on creating interesting and engaging content that makes people want to interact with you and discuss what you have posted with their friends. By doing this you will eventually hit the jackpot and have your advertising masterpiece go viral.

The team at MaxWeb are experts at content creation and we like to think we know all there is to know about Social Media! Why not put us to the test by giving us a call on 0151 652 4777 or email info@maxwebsolutions.co.uk and ask to speak to one of our friendly advisors.

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