The question is how? Some creative agencies may claim to have a foolproof method to attaining this type of widespread attention via strategic use of social media, search engine optimization or pay-per-click methods, but is this realistic? If a formula exists that ensures a brand or idea will receive millions of views, hits, shares, or conversations, then wouldn’t more organizations reap its benefits?
The Internet and media aren’t flooded with more viral content because companies can’t make something viral on their own. Only their audiences have the power to elevate something to that level of notoriety. The key is for planners and strategists to create materials and campaigns that dig deeper than their immediate brand or product. Across the board, experts and veteran industry professionals will express the importance of creating content that is meaningful, engaging and reflective of insightful research and planning in regards to increasing the chances of ideas and messages “going viral”.
With the advancement of technology, the explosion of social networking, and the reach of the Internet, people are able to connect and converse now more than ever. In regards to this new level of online connection and interaction, internationally renowned Facebook expert Mari Smith said,
“Not only is this growth a part of the evolution of human consciousness, the technology allows us to touch the lives and hearts of hundreds of millions of people around the globe… such that we all know we’re not alone. There are others out there who share our dreams and visions, too.”
Content created with a meaningful message and vision that also makes that profound personal and emotional connection with people is the type that can drive people to share and advocate it. But connection should be merely one part of the larger scheme.
Alexis Wolfer is the founder and editor-in-chief of the online women’s health and beauty magazine The Beauty Bean. She is also the creator of the viral Makeup-Free Mondays campaign that calls upon women to celebrate and appreciate their natural beauty once a week.
“It was creating a day where we look in the mirror and appreciate our beauty for what it is,” Wolfer says. “People refer to putting on their makeup as ‘putting on their faces.”
According to Wolfer, viral campaigns should do the following:
- Challenge people to take some type of action.
- Include a larger purpose.
- Be long-term oriented.
“It’s easy to post a ridiculous video on YouTube and get a million hits,” Wolfer said, “But that won’t have legs.”
Her Makeup-Free Mondays campaign, which turned into a movement and still garners active participation and conversation two years after its launch, encourages readers to post photos of themselves sans makeup. The campaign also urges readers to give back by helping elevate other women’s confidences through fresh makeup item donations to local battered women’s shelters.
Social media expert Shama Kabani, who works with companies from around the world agrees, saying that viral content “inspires action and it isn’t passive. It engages us in a very profound and personal way and leverages technology to turn a project into a movement.”
According to Kevin Allocca, YouTube’s trends manager, YouTube videos in the small percentile of viral videos have the following in common:
• Taste makers helping them
• Communities of participation
In the TED Talk video below, Allocca discusses why videos go viral.
According to Lucie Austin, the Marketing Director for Coca-Cola South Pacific,
“What it has always taken is the ability to understand a problem, strategically and creatively work out a solution and implement that solution successfully. Today it’s not really any different other than understanding that the solution may also involve a role for the consumer.”
Like with all communications and marketing campaigns, research, planning and audience engagement is the new norm for success, especially when the desired success is a viral one. Though the advice noted above does not guarantee that brands and content will “go viral”, it increases the chances through a better understanding of the thoughts and emotions that drive the audiences that ultimately drive a brand or company’s success.