Imagine having a secret recipe that could convert all of your marketing campaigns into viral gold…

Viral campaigns are every marketers dream because not only do they reach a huge audience but they are also shared around by people or potential customers, making them up to 1000 times more effective than a regular campaign.

Unfortunately, there is no secret recipe (at least not yet anyway) on what makes a campaign go viral however there is some research on what will give you the best chances:

1.) Your Idea:

A viral marketing campaign all starts with making a bold and opinionated statement. Campaigns become viral as they evoke a certain type of emotion and inspire people to take action. When it comes to formulating your idea, don’t play it safe. Pick a side and stick to it. Even if people hate the idea, it will still help the virality. Remember, haters are gonna’ hate, so take a stand and get people talking.

A good example of this is the Ice Bucket Challenge which went viral back in 2014. The campaign was supposed to support ALS but ended up growing so big that many people started to complain. This shows that even though a campaign may support a good cause, people are always going to find something to talk about. This is part of what makes a viral campaign, so accept now that you cannot please everyone.

2.) Your Audience:

To help you consider what emotional triggers you want to tap into, try to think about who your audience is and what drives them. For example, if you are targeting middle aged women, think about what emotions they would resonate with such as equal rights in the workplace, being a mother, body image, women’s rights etc.

Bring it back to what your audience wants and what information they may find entertaining or clever. Identifying this will definitely help your content to be far more effective.

3.) Keep it Visual:

Online videos are typically the best form of viral marketing, usually because they are short, sweet and also offer a chance to really get your message across. One of the most popular viral marketing campaigns was Evian’s ‘Live Young’ promotion. They received over 100 million unique hits back in 2010.

Another fantastic reason to use a video is because you can also use music. Stimulating as many senses as you can definitely helps to stir emotions in your audience. Music especially can easily trigger emotions so pick a catchy and appropriate song to back your campaign.

4.) Go Big:

If you want people to notice you, your campaign has to step out of the crowd. Don’t try to make your product look cool, instead try to think bigger by going for the emotional meaning behind your product instead.

For example, the most viral ad campaign of 2010 was Blendtec’s “Will it Blend?”. Even though the video was promoting blenders, instead of making typical things, the campaign showed the blender whizzing up iPhones, marbles and other odd items. This campaign became one of the most successful in the year it was released and clocked up over 125 million unique hits.

5.) Be Subtle: 

It may seem ironic to even mention the word ‘subtle’ in a viral marketing campaign, but where you want to hold back is on the promotion of your product. Campaigns go viral because they offer an story and evoke emotions, not because there is a product that is force-fed and aggressively marketed.

Try to avoid thinking about your product and all its cool features and instead focus on creating a story and a powerful message. Keep your focus away from “selling” and more into evoking, stirring and peaking your audience’s curiosity. Remember, viral campaigns are primarily to promote brand awareness and build a relationship with your audience.

6.) Be Social:

Sharing, liking, commenting and re-posting is what viral marketing is all about, therefore you need to make this process as easy and painless as possible. Keep social icons near your marketing campaign and allow your video to be downloadable, clickable and shareable.

Include all the big social networks such as Facebook and Twitter but also aim to go further afield to services like Vine, SnapChat, Instagram, Pinterest, StumbleUpon etc. This ensures that your campaign will be spread across a variety of platforms.

Also, avoid getting your audience to sign up or register during your campaign. This will definitely turn people away and remind them that there is a motive behind your emotionally driven campaign. Viral marketing is definitely not about exclusivity, it is about reaching a mass audience. Keep it simple.

7.) Timing:

Is Christmas just around the corner? Why not create a nostalgic Christmas themed campaign like Coca-Cola?

Taking advantage of seasonal holidays, sporting events, pop culture news and current events can definitely help boost your campaign and get people talking.

Picking an event to centre your campaign around can also make it easier to choose the emotions that are attached to it. For example, Christmas always reminds us of family and generosity, whereas sporting events make us feel patriotic and passionate.

8.) Keep it Simple:

It is a common misconception that you need to have a huge marketing budget and a huge, fancy campaign to make it viral. Some of the most simplest ideas have gone on to be viral ones.

A nice example of this would be the small clothing company, Urban Hilton Weiner. His viral campaign started on Instagram after he asked customers to post a selfie wearing his clothes using the hashtag #urbanselfie, in order to receive a free $10 coupon. The campaign went viral and the small clothing company acquired hundreds of new customers and brand advocates all at the same time.

This just goes to show that you don’t need anything flashy, you simply have to focus on engaging your customers and rewarding them whether that is through a coupon or stirring up a feel good emotion.

Is your campaign ready to go viral?