It’s what many brands think viral marketing will deliver.
In some parts, these expectations aren’t false.
The primary source behind the success of viral marketing is the message – the idea you want to spread.
However, the way this idea is executed and brought to life may be the reason why your viral marketing efforts fail.
So, how do you use viral marketing to obtain viral success?
Here are three main concepts that you should keep in mind.
1. What Goes Into Viral Marketing Success
Viral content possesses specific characteristics that make it spread almost immediately. The number and the relevance of these characteristics differ from one source to another.
According to Forbes, there are four main characteristics of viral content:
- Relatability – viral content resonates with your target audience
- Helpfulness – there is a certain solution that viral content offers to your target audience
- Digestibility – viral content is easy to perceive and consume
- Shareability – your target audience can quickly and effortlessly spread viral content
BuzzSumo adds to this list, saying that viral content also aims at surprising your target audience leverages trends, should inspire the consumers and should be visually appealing.
All these characteristics have a certain impact on the performance of a viral post, and the importance of some of these factors can be argued. For instance, earlier, when Instagram didn’t have an option to share posts in Stories, there was no way for an Instagram post to be shared, but these posts went viral anyway.
However, there are three more or less stable characteristics that play an essential role in the success of your viral marketing efforts: relatability, value, and emotional appeal.
Let’s take a viral Instagram post by TenTree, which has over 15 million likes, and break down its viral success according to these three characteristics.
Image credit: TenTree
Why is it relatable?
In the wake of the deteriorating state of forests and an increasingly negative effect of global warming, many people are concerned with ways, how they can contribute to saving our planet. TenTree offers one of these ways, which it touches upon in this post.
What value does it carry?
It encourages us to start with a small action – liking the post to bring a significant change – plant 100 million trees. The more awareness this post gets, the more resources TenTree receives to plant their next tree.
What emotions does it address?
Hope, need for action, determination – all the emotions that people should feel to take the right action.
You can say that this post is easily digestible and helpful, as well as inspiring and trendy. However, the key point is that millions of people can relate to it and see value in it. That’s what makes this post so successful.
2. What Is Trending on Social Media
We’ve briefly mentioned alignment with trends as one of the most important characteristics of a viral post. This characteristic can be associated with relatability as well.
Social media users watch online trends primarily through hashtags. “On average, one Instagram user follows at least 3 trending hashtags”, says Claire Johnson, a market researcher at Axonim, an international digital service provider.
Indeed, every trending hashtag on Instagram has over 1 million posts daily:
This means that Instagram users don’t only follow a hashtag, but that they also use it in their content and mention it in the comments or their Stories.
While you can certainly take advantage of online trends to make your content go viral, there are also some boundaries you need to observe.
We all remember the 2017 Pepsi commercial starring Kendal Jenner that used a topic of clashes between protestors and the police. In response to this tension, Kendal Jenner offers a policeman a can of Pepsi as a sign of peace:
Video credit: YouTube
While Pepsi wanted to raise awareness about the issue, the trend was poorly executed since so many protestors died in the clashes with the police, and the audience couldn’t take any of it. The video, however, went viral, but for an entirely different reason – negative emotions and controversial context.
3. What Your Audience Thinks
To avoid Pepsi’s mistake and attribute your content to viral trends is to measure your outreach and analyze social data.
Why is it important?
Your social media audience will be the first to receive and spread your viral message. But your audience will respond to your content only in case it resonates with them, and they can relate to it.
Social media platforms contain plenty of data that provides you with insights on your audience’s demographics and content preferences:
Social data from Facebook, in particular, also hints at the posts that your audience liked the most as well as the performance of each of your posts:
With this data at hand, you can make an informed decision about the type of content you will post and how to shape your message to encourage your audience to spread it and make it viral.
Viral marketing is a way to spread a word about your brand, and it works wonders for your brand exposure and outreach.
However, it is not as simple as it may seem. To make your content go viral, you need to take into consideration the characteristics that it possesses, as well as its alignment with current trends and the preference of your audience. These components constitute the recipe for the success of your viral marketing efforts and your brand recognition.