With the existence of social media, implementing viral marketing campaigns should be easier than before. However, there are a lot of elements that contribute to successful campaigns. Not only do you need to understand what viral marketing is, but you also need to understand what's needed for the efforts to be successful. Planning successful campaigns is easier than done, truthfully.
What Is Viral Marketing?
It refers to marketing efforts that are able to touch the heart of the viewers in order to spread out the messages. It is about generating and invoking interest in the targeted market, which leads to the potential sale of the product, brand, or service. The message would be spread out like a virus – which means that it shared, spread, and distributed fast. Oftentimes, the spread would take place from person to person or even from group to group. It's great to increase popularity because it's about viewers' engagement and involvement.
The effective strategy can make use of text messaging, social media, videos, and also people's constant exposure and interaction online. In the past, businesses could only rely on radio or TV to promote their brand. Exposure could only take place on TV or radio, so the exposure was limited. Today, exposure can take place almost anywhere. Once a business creates content, it can be exposed or shared through social networks, chatting lines or channels, and popular social media.
One of the reasons why successful campaigns are great for today's situation is social media. It would be impossible to reach its current state without any involvement from social media. The social network is a sure way to ensure that content can reach the targeted market through constant (and repeated) exposures on (social) media channels. For instance, you create YouTube content that is then shared over Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook over or over again. Such a winning strategy alone will ensure the wide-spread exposure that your brand needs.
Viral marketing is about allowing other people to do the (marketing) spread for you – and yet they do it without realizing it! That's why those who can do such successful campaigns are basically creative and smart because they can encourage internet users to be a part of the spread. Those users don't even realize that they are actually the important element of the marketing because they are the agent of the spread.
How Does it Work?
Viral campaigns are easy to perform or execute. In theory, simply create attractive contents that will pique your target market's interest. Post them on the net and launch them. Pretty simple, right? Once you launch the ad, simply wait for them to shine, allowing other internet users to share the contents like crazy.
In reality, though, it often happens totally out of the blue – happening by accidents. Those who have managed and planned their viral marketing carefully aren't going viral in most common cases. On the contrary, those who don't plan much turn out to get such a huge hit from the viewers in an instant.
So, what makes a campaign successful? In reality, it is about the combination of good strategy, attractive and engaging content, the right timing, and luck. When you don't have all of those elements, then your viral marketing campaigns won't be 100% successful.
Some viral cases have shown that 'accidental' viral marketing takes place at the right time and at the right place. Some viral marketing cases also showed that the marketing manager has a crucial role in this – and the manager can determine whether a campaign can make it or break it. The manager should be able to 'see' the chances of boosting up their brands' awareness and existence without making any negative impacts of other competitors. This is when a campaign would be considered successful – in a good way.
Let's say that there are two major brands that are competing against each other. When one makes a huge blunder, negative promotional mistake, a creative manager from the other brand should be able to see it as an opportunity to introduce their brand and increasing sales at the same time. They can do the campaigns in such a smart, witty, creative, and funny way without having to launch any negative campaigns about their competitor. From this point alone, the market can see who is failing and who is winning.
Advantages of Being Viral
Viral campaigns bring out some of the most positive and best benefits for marketing strategy. Naturally, viral marketing campaigns have their own benefits. Those benefits are:
1. Inexpensive method or low cost.
The signature style of this strategy is the inexpensive nature of the method. Users will do the most important part of the work: spreading the contents. Business owners don't have to think about the general cost related to the promotion and advertisement, such as media space, advertising slot, or such thing alike. They don't even have to reward the users for their viral campaigns to be successful.
2. Invasive Result
The viral campaigns shouldn't be offensive or invasive. An invasive marketing method is often related to the negative impact and not-so-likable approach. Not everyone likes the idea that they are 'bombarded' with advertisements with the hope that they would be interested in buying. In most cases, they consider such a method to be offensive and annoying. Once they don't appreciate such a way, they may ban, block, or develop a strong dislike toward the brand. However, in viral campaigns, it is the users themselves who participate willingly in the spread of the contents. They are attracted by the messages, and they share those contents. Instead of gaining a negative name, the brand will get a positive reputation through this system.
3. Positive brand recognition
Successful campaigns assist with brand recognition and build up its reputation. As it was mentioned before, once the contents become viral, they likely receive positive feedback that simply hit home. Businesses need such a positive reputation and name. It will significantly help with the brand's positive image.
4. Great and promising reach out.
Viral marketing is able to reach out to international viewers and audiences – without the business owners have to break a sweat. They don't have to do extra work or spend a ton of money on thousands of viewers, yet they can get globally wide popularity.
5. It's for Everyone
Viral campaigns aren't exclusive to big names or popular brands only. Small businesses and startup brands can achieve such successful campaigns if they are able to incorporate smart marketing efficiency and creative strategy.
6. Efficient marketing effort
When certain campaign going viral, business owners won't have to deal with the hassle of marketing spread and promotion. Once it is out there, you let the organic system do its charm for you.
Achieving Effective Viral Marketing Efforts
The great thing about viral marketing campaigns is that it creates incredible contents which move users to share them. The contents are generally able to engage users, creating a personal connection between them and the brands. Such awareness is crucial (and it is considered a powerful tool) in terms of branding and personal relation.
Most businesses dream about achieving viral marketing campaigns, leading to them doing costly marketing projects with the hope that they can go viral easily. Most people believe that they can make a winning campaign when they spend an exorbitant amount of time and a fortune to make amazing content. However, it is often that they don't go as viral as expected. You can't really predict viral campaigns. As it was stated before, sometimes the combination of luck, right time, right content, and good planning is the answer.
Understand the Viral Campaigns Target and Channels
To achieve effective campaigns, you need to find the right target market – and where you can find them online. When you want to do viral marketing, make sure to send the proper message to the proper people – and within the proper targeted market. Why is it important to consider the channel too? Just like the target market, the message of viral campaigns won't be effective when it isn't distributed in the right channel.
If you simply think that ALL social media (and channel) would be ideal for your brand's exposure, then you haven't done your study and research about viral campaigns correctly. For instance, if you target your brand for young successful career women between 20 – 40 years of age, you need to market it on Instagram or Pinterest. If your target market is single, middle-class young women between 18 and 24 years old, Pinterest might be the best option for your viral campaigns. Around 80% of (young) viewers are focused on that platform.
As you can see here, the marketing campaigns are different, although the target market is only slightly different. In the first one, the target market is bigger and wider, emphasizing career and 20 years of age span. That's why the channels are bigger and various. On the second one, the target market is narrower and more specific, which leads to specific (and narrower) social platforms and channels.
Make Visual Contents
Most people believe that they need to create videos to make their viral campaigns efforts work well. In reality, though, creating a video isn't a must. You need visual content, which means that you are free to make any content you want – as long as it is visually appealing and attractive. A video may be a better option because viewers can engage in the experience and product. However, it isn't always the case. Some of the best and most popular viral marketing campaigns come in written form.
Take the example of Oreo. They had their smart advertisement during Super Bowl in 2013 with their' Dunk in the Dark' concept. It didn't come in the form of video, but an image advertisement instead. It shows that launching a campaign isn't always about grandeur work or extravagant concepts. Sometimes, successful marketing is simple, and simplicity nails it.
There is also an example with the 'Arei Love Letter' marketing concept, which came as a very simple marketing method. The marketing campaign comes in the form of a letter addressing customers in such a positive and funny way. It takes only a day for the advertisement to be a huge hit and becomes viral – gaining positive talks, comments, and discussions among internet users.
In terms of marketing forms, business owners are free to choose whatever viral campaigns methods or contents that they want to use. Videos may be considered as the best and the most popular option. However, business owners should also realize that they have other options. If they choose other forms of content, they can still gain the same effectivity – even if they don't create video content.
Viral Campaigns Engagement through Emotional Appeal
Humans are social (and emotional) creatures. Most successful viral marketing campaigns are about emotions. Once you touch that part, you have successfully implemented the most effective and also popular technique for viral marketing. Some brands have managed to create quite effective and smart campaigns by touching the emotional part of the viewers.
In 2015, there was a campaign title, 'Love Has No Label'. The video showed that people could be in love, no matter what their gender is, what ethnicity they are from, and such things alike. It's about compassion that love doesn't know any gender or label or ethnicity. When you care for someone, you don't care about their physical appearance. That's the message – and it hits home. That's why it became an example of successful ad.
Source by Love Has No Label
Another successful example is from A Mild, a cigarette company. They display social reality facts through their advertisements. Their contents are always smart, witty, and funny. Their contents are intriguing because they are able to touch the 'annoying' parts of society, which is actually very relatable to our daily lives.
If you want to achieve successful campaigns through emotional appeal, here are some things to consider:
- Great communication is about strong emotion. Will you be able to create such a thing?
- You need to decide whether you want to create something full of hatred or love.
- You need to decide whether you will be standing as a genius or a failure.
- You need to create something that makes people upset or happy for viral campaigns.
In the ad 'Love Has no Labels', it is clear that the message is about love and less judgment. However, the ads in A Mild series depict annoying habits that can invoke the feeling of upset, annoyance, and anger. You can still create positive strategy focusing on the message through clever twists and play of the concept. In fact, it won't be successful without the inclusion of human emotion.
Launch Campaigns at the Right Time
Not many people know it, but time planning is also crucial in effective viral marketing campaigns. If you launch it at the wrong time, it may not gain high knowledge or awareness, which may result in flop failure. The concept of 'Arei Love Letter' was perfectly done at the right moment. The marketing managers must be applauded because they saw the opportunity and jumped in to take some action. Their smart moves led to the success of their viral marketing.
After the internet was buzzing with 'Eiger Complaint Letter' (which is an example of a negative result), Arei took the opportunity to release their own 'love letter', which was the opposite of their competitor. It was smartly done – very witty, very smooth, and very creative. That's why timing is another crucial factor in viral campaigns, as it determines the success or failure of a brand.
Enable Easy Sharing for Viral Campaigns
In order for it to be successful, the contents should be easily shared and re-shared. Naturally, you will be the first one to share it. It means that you need to consider various and different social media platforms as a part of your viral marketing campaigns. More platforms would mean that you have a bigger opportunity to share. Think of it this way: If you only share your content on your Instagram and Facebook, for instance, then only users (especially your followers and friends) on Facebook and Instagram are able to see your content.
If you share the contents on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and others, you are expanding and widening the chances for those users to share your contents. In other words, the more social platforms you have, the bigger the exposure you will get.
Include the Tags
Don't forget the tags if you plan viral marketing campaigns. Tags may seem unimportant, but they are effective in gaining the exposure you want. Be careful, though, as you don't need to over-do it. Find out how many tags are considered the standard (and normal) so your strategy can be effective. There are standard 'regulations' of how many you can include, so it would be effective and yet not too much. For an effective result, tags from 11 to 15 are considered the standard. However, make sure to find out more sources for research so you can get the right answer.
Don't be 'Spammy'
Another important factor for a viral marketing campaign to run successfully is to avoid being 'spammy'. No one likes spam content. They are considered annoying and disturbing. In some cases, they may be able to achieve viral marketing campaigns' purpose, but not in a positive way.
What about viral campaigns? Aren't they spam too? When other users share your content, it won't be considered spam. Spam happens when you share your OWN content excessively. That's why you want to have viral marketing – to help you spread out the message and affect the brands' popularity.
Dealing with campaigns can be easy, but it can be tricky too. There is nothing easy about viral marketing campaigns. It can be a well-planned project, but it doesn't reach the success that you want. On the other hand, it can be something you don't plan at all, and yet it becomes successful marketing with a satisfying result. Although there is no specific way to deal with successful campaigns, it is always good to have a plan over it.