In this guide, I share my thoughts and views on what it takes to build and create viral content, viral marketing campaigns, and leverage viral marketing to maximise your return on investment.
What is a viral marketing campaign?
In marketing, when something goes viral, is when you make a post or even create an ad that captures the interest and attention of the masses. All of a sudden, everyone is talking about it, sharing it, and even creating hashtags about it. That’s when you hit the jackpot in the world of marketing.
Viral marketing is when a business creates content that resonates with its target audience so well; it spreads like wildfire. In many cases, when someone creates viral content, they don’t really know if it’s going to go viral. That’s why it’s such a rare commodity. In saying that, most content creators and businesses are often seeking to create viral campaigns.
Think of commercials that you still remember today or a famous YouTuber that created a video you’ll never forget. That’s viral marketing.
Benefits of viral marketing campaign
There are many benefits of creating viral marketing campaigns.
- Brand Awareness & Reach
Viral marketing significantly boosts brand awareness. Even if there are no sales generated, your business can tremendously benefit from viral campaigns by building a massive amount of followers and people who now know about your product or service. This online presence can then be turned into sales through the proper sales funnels.
Quite often, viral campaigns and content lead to sales. The hype, engagement and conversations that are generated lead to purchases. For example, if you were to have two Facebook Ads that are quite similar yet, one of them has 10 times more likes, comments and shares than the other, you bet it will perform better and generate more sales.
- Return On Investment
Viral campaigns create more trust and authority. This, in turn, allows your business to sell more effectively because you’re more likely to convert traffic into purchases in a viral campaign for the same amount of reach and advertising budget. And hence, your return on investment will be significantly better in a viral campaign.
- Brand Partnerships
When you go viral, not only your target audience expands, and people talk about you, other businesses will want to collaborate and partner with you. And being a business under the spotlight will allow you to get more interest from potential business partners and have more leverage to get the best deals.
How to create viral content
There is no specific formula that allows you to go viral. In fact, many successful marketing experts refuse the notion that going viral is what businesses should be seeking. However, some key components are almost always common in viral campaigns/content.
1. Appeals to a target audience
Viral content is content that talks to the target audience. Viral content creators understand their target audience on a deeper level and know how to communicate to them. Understanding your target audience will help you create more viral content. To understand your target audience, you need to learn everything there is to know about them.
2. Has a strong visual strategy
Visuals are one of the strongest communication tools not only because of the impact they have but also because of how capable we are of retaining information in a visual sense.
Your campaign should tell a compelling story using well crafted visual elements that will resonate with your audience. For a story to be compelling, it should create a level of excitement, intrigue and a strong emotional connection.
3. Original & creative
Creative content is so powerful yet challenging. It is challenging because there is so much content out there and so, coming up with new and original content is not usually easy to do. However, it really pays off to have creative content. What makes content or ads creative is not “what” you communicate but “how” you communicate it. What you communicate will not dramatically change every time. However, if you keep saying the same old tale, people will start tuning out.
Creativity is about communicating a message in a new, reinvented, effective way.
4. Has an emotional impact
Creating an emotional impact is a key component in viral campaigns. Whether it’s making people laugh, intrigued, happy, or even angry, triggering an emotional response is one of the main reasons content goes viral.
Examples of Brands That Know How To Create Viral Content
- Volvo Trucks Ad
Who didn’t grow up watching Jean-Claude Van Damme movies? Well, maybe generation Z didn’t. Anyway, a couple of years ago, Volvo created this masterpiece of an ad showing Van Damme doing a split standing over two reversing Volvo trucks. I mean, the level of creativity in this is absolutely impressive. And the best part is, they didn’t need a high production budget for an ad like that except, of course, the endorsement fees of Van Damme.
- Heineken World Apart Experiment
In 2017, Heineken launched a campaign (experiment) called Worlds Apart. The idea and goal is to see how two strangers divided by their beliefs can overcome their differences.
This 2-minute video demonstrates how four strangers were paired up, unaware that their partners hold different political views. After finding out the views of their partner, they can choose to leave or stay, chat and have a Heineken. What a genius way to tell the world that Heineken unites people despite their differences and that although you may have different views about the world, you can still enjoy a Heineken with a stranger. Right on the money.
- GoPro’s ‘Fireman saves kitten’ ad
People love telling stories just as much as hearing them. And GoPro has geniusely positioned itself as a brand that helps people share their stories and experiences with others. This ad tells a story of a fireman who saved a kitten that was abandoned in a house that was on fire. A cool story you want to tell everyone you meet right? And what better way to tell it than by documenting it using a GoPro camera? Another genius ad/video.