Viral Marketing Initiatives

Want to make a marketing campaign go viral?

Start with emotions.  Campaigns that go viral really resonate with people, whether it makes people laugh, cry or inspire, they all tug on your emotions.  From the ALS “Bucket Challenge” to Misty Copelands “I Will What I Want” for Under Armor, these campaigns touched us.  Keep the message simple, sincere and relatable.

customer-profile-cut.jpgUnderstand your target audience. Do your research and challenge any assumptions you may have about who your audience is.  What interests them? What content engages them? How are your competitors reaching them?  Once you answer these questions and define who they are, creating content that engages them will be much easier.  Don’t try to appeal to everyone; really focus on who your brand wants to reach.  (image)

Make your campaign shareable and allow UGC (user generated content).  In order for campaigns to go viral, they need to be easily shareable.  It may seem obvious but many well-thought out marketing campaigns are missing this or only have a share function on one platform, such as Facebook and miss out on YouTube, Instagram, etc.  People want to engage and feel like they are part of a story.  A great example of this in 2016 was Disney’s #ShareYourEars campaign.  Disney partnered with the Make-A-Wish foundation to raise awareness for terminally ill children.  The campaign asked people to post photos of themselves in Mickey Mouse ears.  Disney donated $5 for every photo posted.  This campaign was fun, heartfelt, and all based around UGC.  The campaign went viral and raised over $2 million to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Be Daring. Even if for a company whose business objective is to increase sales, thinking outside the box is good thing.  Dove is for profit company and one of the largest health and beauty companies in the US. For many years, they ran run of the mill marketing campaigns and their sales plateaued.  They hired an outside ad agency who rebranded Dove to be the beauty company for all women.  They have had numerous viral marketing campaigns over recent years.  All of them are creative, touch on emotions, have a daring message and little promotional material.  Their biggest successes include, “Real Beauty campaign”, “Choose Beautiful”, “Real Beauty Sketches” and “Love Your Curls”.  The “Love Your Curls” campaign is a personal favorite and one that I shared with my curly hair daughter.  These campaigns stood out from their competitors by challenging ourselves and society to redefine beauty.

Finding ShelterDon’t Be Too Promotional.  Of course, your company’s objective in creating a marketing campaign is to increase sales, brand awareness, and donations.  If a marketing campaign is successful, sales will follow and you can determine your ROI (return on investment).  But the focus should be on the message you want to leave your audience with.  A current author I work with is a photographer who started a Kickstarter campaign to photograph and interview volunteers at rescue animal shelters.  This turned into a book called Finding Shelter that profiles how the volunteers were able to mend their own emotional hurts with the love the shelter animals gave back to them.  The combination of these heartfelt stories and beautiful photography are powerful.  Together we created the idea to use social media shareables from the book with the hashtag #WeAllNeedShelter. These shareables are touching, thought provoking and don’t have any promotional material in the content, with only a link to buy the book in the comments.

Go Viral! Have fun! Follow my blog for more marketing tips and find me on Twitter at @Sara_Given

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