A viral marketing campaign is probably the champion of reaching out on a limited budget. It is estimated that a successful viral campaign has up to 1000 times the impact of a non-viral campaign. However, as simple as they may look, viral campaigns require careful planning and research beforehand in order to take off.
1. What is your message?
Before anything else you need to be very clear about what the message of your campaign is going to be. Then you need to ensure that throughout the campaign lifecycle your audience receives this message clearly. Keep your message simple, direct and free of distractions.
A clear and committed message will incite stronger emotions and inspire more people to spread it for you. Confusing or neutral messages lose momentum and ultimately get lost in a game of Chinese Whispers.
2. Speak to emotions
Viral marketing is an emotions game. Be it awe, fear, surprise, humour, hatred or joy, a strong emotional response from your audience increases the chance that your message will be shared. For this purpose, visual mediums like images and videos are more effective than text heavy content.
3. Keep it simple
Keep the campaign simple. Avoid overloading your audience with information; don’t create another advertisement or infomercial for your brand or product. Viral marketing is about creating a story that can be shared. Your business promotions should never take centre stage. Set up other ways for people to find out more about you once you have captured their attention.
4. Who is your audience?
Pinpoint your target audience and centre your campaign on them. Do some research on your target audience to find out what their triggers are. Once you know this, you are more likely to create content that is compelling for your purposes.
5. Launch it
Once you have planned and built your campaign, it comes time to launch. Due to the nature of viral marketing campaigns, the best places to start will be on content platforms that encourage sharing, like social networks and blogs. Design your campaign so that access is never restricted; make your content free and downloadable. Include options so that people can publish your campaign on their own websites or share it via email and social networks.
6. Follow up with your campaign
Never just publish and forget. Once you have launched your campaign, follow up and reinforce your message by engaging with and responding to user comments. Audience involvement will only encourage more people to become involved in spreading your message.
If your campaign is successful, ride the wave of attention you have just captured and create sequels. Gauge the emotional reactions you have received from your first campaign and design your sequel so that it speaks positively to these people. Once you have built a loyal audience, this is when you can really start to introduce your brand to your newly engaged market.