A Guide To Understanding Viral Marketing And How People Do It

From Gangnam style to Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen to hamster videos on TikTok, we hear the phrase “viral video” or “viral content” quite often. While some of the so-called viral videos garner millions of views on social media within a day, other insightful, well-executed videos which offer so much more, get easily overshadowed and never see the limelight. What is the secret behind making a video viral, and can everyone replicate the same tricks?

What is Viral Marketing?

A viral video is any video clip or content that spreads across the internet at a rapid pace, similar to how a virus spreads among humans. In the context of marketing, a video (or any form of content) that is intended to generate interest and the potential sale of a brand or product going viral is the key to viral marketing and it helps to grow your online business. The goal of making such content is to promote your brand, typically over social media, to get an extensive outreach in a quick time.

what is viral marketing

However, a common misconception is that all viral content is successful, and all successful campaigns use a viral marketing strategy. Neither of these needs to be true, but following specific techniques can increase the chances of your content or video marketing campaign to go viral.

Viral marketing is a double-edged sword: a triumphant campaign can work wonders for your brand, but a wrong message can tarnish your reputation. In essence, it is a low-cost way to carry your brand name across a broad international audience in a non-invasive manner.

5 Strategies that Viral Marketers Need to Know

Every company’s marketing team hopes for a successful viral marketing campaign, whether it is part of a healthcare marketing strategy or an apparel company’s brand promotion. While the content will vary widely based on the industry and the audience, here are some general tips that will help you in making your campaign go viral.

1. Make Video Content

Nothing grabs your audience’s attention like a catchy video: the combination of text, images, graphics, and sound create a powerful effect on the viewer. If you plan to launch a viral message, make it in the form of a video.

The key to making a viral video is to have an eye-catching intro that intrigues the audience to watch the content instead of scrolling past. It can be a statistic (“Do you know that x% of people do this?”), a famous celebrity talking to the camera, or even a famous fictional character.

Viral videos are often short clips, not longer than a minute. Make your message concise enough to fit into a video of this duration, which is what will help you share it on social media.

2. Keep the Message Simple and Emotional

Some of the main factors why people share content online are:

  • How emotional the video is – when people care, they share
  • How simple it is – a clear-cut message that lucidly explains something is more likely to be shared
  • Practicality – how useful is the information you mention in the video; this is more reason to add an interesting fact in the beginning.
  • Visual appeal – how catchy is the visual appearance of the video; this is arguably videos like the TikTok hamster gained millions of views.

It might not be easy to satisfy all these and make a video that is only a minute long, but the underlying principle is that your content should be something the majority of people can relate to and like.

3. Know Your Audience

Among all the people who share your video, those in your target audience are the ones to whom you can directly reach out. Spend time to go through social media pages and other platforms to pick out the widely-followed influencers, bloggers, and writers in your field, and find the contact details of approximately 50 of them. When your content is ready, send it to each of them in a personalized mail and convince them to promote it as well.

Of course, some non-marketing videos go viral without any intervention, but for a marketer, this extra effort will go a long way in spreading the word.

4. Social Media Sharing

Personalized sharing is one way, but to reach thousands of people, you should target Instagram, Facebook, and other platforms with hundreds of millions of existing users. Instagram stories are the most popular way of sharing video content; these appear on the top of the IG feed so that people can directly watch the videos and share them without scrolling down.

On all these platforms, followers share the video if they genuinely find the content interesting, but you can always provide external encouragement for them to do the same. Create an attractive call to action (CTA) at the end of the video (signing up to your newsletter, subscribing to your blog’s RSS feed, or signing up for your products’ free trials) to capture leads and get more unique visitors. Paid ads are a sure-shot way of getting more visibility, but sharing through your followers is more organic.

5. SEO All the Way

While people promote your content on social media, what is search engines like Google could push your website or video to its front page in the search results? For that to happen, your video post should satisfy some criteria that Google’s ranking algorithm looks at to sort the various webpages for a particular search.

Find out what keywords relevant to your content are currently trending online and on social media, and incorporate those in the text or descriptions. When you share on Instagram or Facebook, add hashtags and geotags for your content to gain more visibility. If your content talks about a niche or new topic, and Google puts your page among the top results, it is guaranteed to get you a wide outreach.

Light the Fuse… and Wait

Viral marketing, in one line, is giving the right message to the right messengers in the right environment, according to marketing professors Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein. The above tactics help you light the fuse and incentivize your audience to share the content, and hopefully, within a few hours, you see people sharing your video everywhere. Viral marketing, at one point in time, was considered lucky, but of late, more and more people are working on it to make it a science.

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