Have you ever watched a video or seen a social media challenge that pulled you in, inspired you, or motivated you in a way that you had to participate in it or share it with a friend or two or ten? You were part of viral marketing! Viral marketing happens when “customers act as advertisers by promoting a product through word-of-mouse.”
Why do videos and campaigns go viral?
Does a company have control over a campaign or video going viral? Although it’s up to the viewers and followers to make a campaign go viral – they’re the ones sharing – to some extent, a company can impact if their campaign goes viral. Five factors that can help a campaign going viral are discussed below.
Evoke Emotions and Feelings
When viewers stumble upon a post or video that moves them – makes them laugh or cry – they are more apt to share. In fact, the viewer “must first enjoy viewing (or feel entertained) before a positive attitude can be formed…and (then) voluntarily share it.”
Studies show that “the greater the intensity of feeling the content evokes, the more likely people are to share it.” Tugging at the heart strings or making someone laugh makes the person connect with the video and its content. A great example of this is the Pantene “Deaf Violin Player.” Just listen to what happened when my 9th grade social media students stumbled upon it…
Budweiser’s “Best Bud’s” gave that warm feeling of a good friend who needs to be by your side – the imagery and music added to the effect.
By being timely, focusing on the what’s going on right now, and what people are concerned with, you are more apt to grab the viewers attention and evoke their emotions (noted above). Sometimes timing is simply spur-of-the-moment, taking advantage of the unexpected. Being in the right place, at the right time, and using it to your advantage.
Oreo’s “Dunk in the Dark” immediately playing off the “darkness” or Arby’s taking advantage of Will Pharrell’s hat looking like their logo are great examples of being in the right place at the right time. On a more serious level, Dove’s “Choose Beautiful” campaign comes at a time when there’s much focus on all the unrealistic images of what a girl or woman should look like.
Be Positive and Inspiring
With so much negativity in the news today viewers are attracted to stories of inspiration, overcoming struggles and beating the odds, an of dreams coming true despite obstacles.
People want to be a part of something – whether it’s a cause, sharing their opinion, asking questions, or participating in an event. The more you can involve your viewers, engage them in a cause or activity, or give them the opportunity to share their voice, the greater the chance they will share the activity and link with others.
ALS’ Ice Bucket Challenge encouraged people to get involved in a good cause – finding a cure for ALS. “The Dress – Black and Blue or White and Gold?” had viewers involved in sharing their opinion on the color of the dress – who doesn’t like to share their opinion? Comedy Central’s “Search Game” led viewers on searches through its ads to find the answers about the new host.
Be Easy to Share
No matter how much someone enjoys a video clip, blog, or other post, if it’s not easy to share they will simply move on (without sharing). However, if all they have to do is click a button and press share (maybe even add their own comment with the share) the chances of going viral increases substantially. Dr. Ralph F. Wilson refers to it as providing “effortless transfer to others.”
Here’s some of the ways the above campaigns made it easy to share:
- The Ice Bucket Challenge, Comedy Central’s “Search Game”, and Pantene: The Deaf Violin Player: Share widgets for 13 different social media platforms on YouTube and website.
- The Dress: What Colour Is It? Originally posted on Tumblr asking for opinions, no intentions of it going viral, but it did! Debate continued on Twitter and Facebook
- Oreo Cookie: Dunk in the Dark and Arby’s: Can We Have Our Hat Back?: Retweeted
- Budweiser Best Buds: Share widget for sharing via different social media platforms
- Dove: Choose Beautiful: Share widget for 13 different social media platforms on the YouTube. Badges on YouTube channel brings viewer to Dove’s Choose Beautiful Facebook, Twitter, Google+and website
What’s your favorite campaign or video that’s gone viral? Please share below!