Nine reasons why your viral campaigns aren't working |

Nine reasons why your viral campaigns aren't working

By Marcus Taylor / November 6, 2009

Viral marketing is without a doubt one of the most appealing ways for a company to promote a new product on the Internet – it really is a win-win situation; customers do all the dirty work for you, and it costs near to nothing to market your product in front of millions of potential customers. That said, creating a successful viral campaign can be somewhat of an art, but when mastered and implemented correctly, no amount of money spent on billboard, TV, and magazine advertisements will compete.

Image from Flickr.

So why aren’t we all using viral marketing campaigns to skyrocket companies into the fortune 500? Unsurprisingly, most companies do try to launch viral marketing campaigns for their products, but give up due to a either a poor approach to viral marketing, or the lack of scalable ROI results.

Here is a list of my top viral marketing tips:

  • Don’t restrict sharing – you’d think that this would be obvious when trying to create a viral campaign wouldn’t you? Unfortunately, many companies still require you to enter personal data to access their sharable content such as ebooks, this significantly reduces the success of a viral campaign.
  • Encourage sharing – As well as not restricting sharing, you should also encourage it.  If you run a conference or workshop, ask the audience to get their phones out and video you saying or doing something interesting, funny, or controversial, this content will often end up on Youtube or Facebook, infront of your audiences networks.
  • Don’t talk about your products – Many companies fall into the trap of filling their advertising and marketing content to the brim with corporate gobblydegook, and jargon that doesn’t interact with the customers needs. If you want customers to share your content they must be able to understand it.
  • Trigger emotions – Some of the most successful viral campaigns are those which provoke an extreme emotion. Think of some of the films, music, and Youtube videos you have shared with friends; it’s likely that they made you feel either very happy, very sad, very relaxed, very confused etc – People rarely share stories that didn’t have an effect on them.
  • Target the right people – It makes sense to target your viral campaigns at those who have the biggest online influence in your industry first, this often includes bloggers, social media users, and forum members for industry specific forums.
  • Understand the purpose of your campaign – The most successful viral marketing campaigns are not those that directly try to sell a product, or create leads. Instead, it should be used to create a buzz about your product, or brand. This will indirectly increase interest in your products or brand. Remember the Cadbury’s Gorilla advert? Not once does the advert say ‘Buy Cadbury products because X, Y, and Z’, they just did something unique and funny which saturated the internet for months with mentions of the Cadbury brand and product. Think about it, that advert ticked all of the boxes mentioned in this post.
  • Don’t be afraid of producing ‘off-brand’ content – Many corporate companies are afraid of producing the kind of viral content that works best because it doesn’t fit their traditional brand image. Well, that’s even better – many companies have benefited massively from unexpected content going viral because people are so suprised to see a company in such a way, they feel they have to share it.
  • Be controversial / Provocative – People love talking about controversial issues, so don’t be afraid to strike a few nerves, after all, people disagreeing with you will only provoke discussion, which is what viral marketing is all about.
  • Make it easy to consume – Let’s face it, people are pretty lazy on the internet and like information to be as simple as possible to consume. If you’re launching a video, keep it short (under 3 minutes works best), ensure it can be easily found on your website if promoting on your own networks, and if possible make it understandable to viewers who do not have sound.

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