It’s easy to tell someone how to design a viral campaign. “Just make it unique and high-quality!”
Doing it is not so easy. In 2015, daily marketing expenditure around the world on marketing activities stood at around $2 Billion. Which means, every single campaign that you roll out with a viral objective will be competing with thousands of other campaigns released on the same day. Then there are campaigns released few days after and few days prior to your campaign.
Also, when we are talking about a viral campaign, it not only needs to stand out from the marketing campaigns around the world, but it also needs to break the clutter of excessive activities happening on all digital and non-digital platforms. E.g. users upload 100 hours of video to YouTube every 60 seconds and share more than 4.75 billion pieces of content on Facebook every 24 hours. Add to that, 500 million new tweets per day, and the chances of breaking through to a wider audience can seem virtually nonexistent
But fortunately, there is a science behind making things viral. If you take into account certain key factors while designing a campaign, you can maximize the probability of your campaign getting viral. Let’s see what those factors are:
Take your customers for an emotional ride
Emotion is one factor that drives sharing. We see lots of funny stuff go viral on YouTube, but we also see angry political rants get shared. Any emotion that fires us up–humor, awe, and excitement, but also anger and anxiety–drives us to share.
That’s not to say that informative posts or videos can’t go viral, but unfortunately, information alone is often not enough. You need to grab the person with something emotional. Play on their fears, hopes, dreams or sense of humor, and your campaign will be far more likely to go viral.
If you are not really sure what emotions to tap into and what not, you can use wheel of emotions which was originally proposed by Psychologist Robert Plutchik. As per Robert Plutchik, there are eight primary emotions that guide our behavior:
1. Joy 5. Sadness
2. Trust 6. Anticipation
3. Fear 7. Anger
4. Surprise 8. Disgust
Integrating these different emotions into your content can help your message resonate more effectively with your audience. An excellent example of the use of emotion to fuel behavior is Chipotle’s Scarecrow campaign.
The “I Never Knew That” Moment
Your campaign needs to be centered around one key point. This is what we’ll call the “I never knew that” point. This is what makes content viral. Someone’s looking for a solution to their problem. They stumble upon a piece of advertisement that’s immediately interesting and start reading.
Titles play a vital role
While planning for a viral campaign, Title is something that you have to pay special attention to. If your title is not interesting enough, the entire campaign will go for a toss. A title need not be very informative about the intent of the campaign but it needs to be easily memorable and should be able to touch at least one of the eight primary emotional chords mentioned above.
Do Not Advertise
A campaign is unlikely to go viral if it is created with a core objective of advertising the product, its key features, benefits, and use cases. Instead of focusing on the product, focus on the story and sell the story. Product sales will pick-up eventually.
It is very important to understand that success and reach of a viral campaign depend on how many viewers are talking about it. People, in general, have a negative propensity towards any sales exercise. So, instead of pushing things on their face, get them onboard with an engaging story and they will do the sales for you.
Length of content plays a big role in determining the viral career of any campaign. Generally, it is better to keep it short. But how short it should be, depends basically on the communication channel. E.g. if you are doing an outdoor advertisement campaign, it better to use up to 7 words to describe the key message of the campaign. For print media, it’s okay to be a little descriptive, but keeping it short always has its own dividends. Think about the all-time viral campaigns in India (Mentos, Chlormint etc.) and compare the content with other not so interesting campaigns which forced us to change the channel.
The pointers mentioned above do not represent an exhaustive set of things that you can do to design a viral campaign with 100% success by all reasonable standards, but it would surely help you in taking the first step in the right direction. Feel free to share your ideas of going about a viral campaign by writing them in the comments below. We would love to hear from you.