You’ve heard the age old saying ‘if it was easy, everyone would be doing it,’ right? Well, this is entirely the case when it comes to viral marketing. After all, in an age of digital technology and rapid multimedia consumption, what brand doesn’t want to go viral? Some brands come up with seasonal content to make the post go viral; while others tend to work hand in hand with a digital marketing agency to come up an overall campaign complete with social media plans.
Thanks to the number of social media platforms, standing out above all the noise is becoming increasingly difficult. So how do brands create posts that go viral?
Unfortunately, there’s no secret code with this one. If there was, practically every post would be hitting the big time. So, this is where you have to get clever and create compelling content that people can’t help but share and share.
To help you on your way, we’ve compiled a list of 12 hints and tips to guide you on how to make a post go viral.
#1. Make a Post Go Viral – Storytelling
One of the best ways to connect with people is to use the art of storytelling. Thought provoking and emotive, it can be used to pull the heartstrings and trigger that all-important share. We’re all familiar with the top offender for this one. Think Christmas, penguins, monsters under the bed…have you got it yet?
Yes, John Lewis, king of the Christmas advert and master storyteller. The retail giant’s adverts go viral every year. They have it nailed to the point that people actively anticipate their release, tissues in hand.
They tell an emotive story that most people can relate to which is the key to its viral success: relatability. 2014’s campaign ‘Monty the Penguin’ was shared 202,953 times in just 24 hours and had the top three trending hashtags on Twitter all relating directly to the ad.
The key takeaway is to tell a story that’s both relatable and emotive. If you can trigger emotion, you’ll instantly create a connection between the consumer and your brand. They will, therefore, be far more likely to respond and (hopefully) share your post.
#2. Make a Post Go Viral – Have a Clear Call to Action
In order for a post to be shared, a clear call to action must be present. It’s no good posting a hilarious video without some form of instruction or action that needs to be taken.
Position your CTA buttons in an obvious place and use bright colors that compel people to click. Using ‘power words’ to inspire and build trust can also help to encourage an action. Words like ‘best-selling’, ‘results’ and ‘official’ help catch the eye and endorse the contents of the post that you want to go viral.
Users who already connect with a brand are more than likely share or like a post which will then be seen by their friends. Therefore, forming a connection with your existing followers is key.
#3. Make a Post Go Viral – Target by Location
If your product or service is location-based, harnessing the ability to target by location can have a big impact on how your post is shared.
Focusing your efforts on the people that are directly affected will make it far more relatable. Offering a reward for sharing can also be easier when done within a set geographical location.
For example, a new cake shop could run an online competition, targeted at local residents in the area. A ‘share to win’ post could work wonders if there’s a reward involved. It’s surprising the lengths that some people will go to for a free cake and coffee!
#4. Make a Post Go Viral – Run an Online Quiz
People love a good challenge or a simple but fun way to pass time. Thanks to the likes of Buzzfeed, brands have been successful in creating online quizzes that go viral. In fact, according to Kissmetrics, quizzes are the most shared form of content on social media.
When coming up with a topic, it’s crucial that you stay relevant. There’s a fine balance between sticking to your niche and creating a quiz that’s interesting to your audience. When you have a topic, it’s important to come up with a punchy title as this is what will draw people in.
One of the most shared quizzes, believe it or not, was about shrimps. Yes, “What Kind of Shrimp are you?” to be exact. American restaurant, Red Lobster, created the shrimp personality quiz which went on to have a whopping 180,000 shares.
This goes to show that revealing a quirky side can really pay off.
#5. Make a Post Go Viral – Harness the Power of Social Media
This can often be the key to making a post go viral so it’s paramount that you have your social media strategy in place. It’s not as simple as posting and hoping for the best. There are plenty of factors that can dictate whether your post will get shared.
Image size, share buttons, and metadata can all impact whether your post goes viral or not.
#6. Make a Post Go Viral – Use a Motivational Message
We all need a little bit of motivation now and then and if you can share a message that connects with your audience, you could be on to a winner.
‘This Girl Can’ campaign is a prime example of this. It was developed by Sports England following some research that found 2 million less women aged 14-40 took part in sports compared to men. The campaign played on the fact that judgment by others was the key reason preventing women from getting active. Through video ads and social media, the campaign went viral and resulted in 1.6 million more women exercising.
#7. Make a Post Go Viral – Challenge the Norm
We can all be suckers for something new. Something that challenges our expectations and shocks us. This can be a great way of hitting a soft spot with your audience and encouraging them to act. After all, people love to be the first to share something their friends haven’t seen yet.
#8. Make a Post Go Viral – Humour
Making people laugh is one of the most powerful things you can do as a marketer. How many pieces of content make you physically laugh on a daily basis? It’s a hard skill to master but producing content that triggers laughter can be a goldmine.
Netflix recently hit the news by calling out users who’d repeatedly watched a Christmas film on its platform. The streaming giant cheekily asked,
“To the 53 people who’ve watched A Christmas Prince every day for the past 18 days: Who hurt you?”
The tongue in cheek tweet received over 114,000 retweets and almost half a million likes. Although the stunt did suffer some backlash for being ‘creepy’, what better way to promote its own film on its own streaming site?
#9. Make a Post Go Viral – Memes
Linking in with the previous point, memes can work a treat when used well. The rise of this form of content has been extraordinary and something that’s worth exploring if you want to stand out.
However, it’s important to tread carefully as ultimately, you are trying to communicate a brand message. Too much ‘Tom Foolery’ can lead to people questioning your brand, so keep a set of ground rules to prevent your brand representatives going too far.
#10. Make a Post Go Viral – Advocate
When there’s a good cause behind a post, it’s surprising how it can really take off. People like something they can get behind and show support to. It works particularly well for charities and non-profits when their messages resonate with their audience.
ALS Association proved how social advocacy can make a post not only go viral but become a trend. Unless you were hibernating under a rock, you’re probably familiar with the ice bucket challenge. It saw people across the globe dousing themselves in icy water all in the name of ALS. Celebrities including Mark Zuckerberg, Tom Cruise, and Anna Wintour all participated and led to a staggering $220 million being raised.
It goes to show that having a cause or social message that people can really get behind has the power to go global.
#11. Make a Post Go Viral – Hashtags are Key
Having a hashtag can prove to be the crux behind a post going viral. It helps categorize your content and provides users with a direct way to talk about it. When used well, hashtags can start a global conversation and even start to trend.
To mark the 100 day countdown to the Rio Olympics 2016, Kellogs launched the #GreatStarts campaign. It encouraged people to head online and share how they started their morning. By offering the chance to win tickets to the games, it really got people talking and the hashtag trending.
#12. Make a Post Go Viral – Be Nostalgic
We’ve all reminisce on our childhood memories at some point. Old songs, TV programs and traditions can bring back warm feelings of home and family. When we see these things in later years it strikes a cord with us and triggers those familiar emotions. What happens when we see something we identify with? We interact.
A great example of this is director, Richard Curtis’ revival of the hit Christmas film Love Actually for Comic Relief 2017. This on-screen reunion of the beloved cast members triggered nostalgia for those who’d enjoyed the film first time round. Consequently, it went on to raise an impressive £73 million for the cause.
It’s important to remember that a viral post is not something you can predict. Brands can’t just decide their post will go viral as its largely down to the audience. Engagement and interaction levels all dictate whether a post will hit the big time or not, so focusing on gaining interaction is key.
Whatever your angle, always keep relatability in mind. To go viral, you have to strike a chord with your audience so choose an emotion and run with it well.