Viral Marketing

making your ad campaigns spread virally

In modern marketing parlance the term viral campaign has become a synonym for extremely successful advertising. A viral advertisement is something that spreads organically through various social media channels and by word of mouth – thereby vastly increasing the reach of the advertising campaign when compared to a traditional print or media advertisement. In this article we’re going to examine the key ingredients necessary to create a viral campaign and how we can apply them to our marketing programs.

                Initially we need to examine the core reasons why a particular advertising campaign spreads virally and how this spread occurs. In its most simplistic sense an ad “goes” viral when people enjoy it enough to talk about it, share it on their social networking profiles (FaceBook, Twitter etc.) and when they actively seek out your advertisement on social media sites such as YouTube. A good example of this is the Old Spice – The Man You Could Smell Like advertisement which has had over 30 million views on YouTube alone. This means that up to 30 million distinct individuals have actively sought to watch the advertisement online. Add this to the exposure generate by the original TV campaign and you have an incredibly tempting campaign goal.

                However before we create a viral campaign we need to understand the core reasons why a campaign goes viral. The most common reasons, in order of importance, that a campaign goes viral are:

  1. It’s funny
  2. It’s abstract or quirky
  3. It has shock value
  4. It’s original

These reasons separately and combined can all help an advertisement go viral as viewers will seek out the advertisement in order to be part of the joke or to understand the “buzz” that is being created around it. Therefore if you can provide your target audience with one or more of these factors in your campaign you are likely to help initiate it virally spreading. This process has now become a central cornerstone of advertising technique but it can only be applied to certain brands and certain brand identities. For example a banking company’s message is likely to be diluted by a shocking or overtly humorous advertising campaign whilst a deodorant or essential item is likely to benefit. Understanding the intended message then becomes integral to understanding how you can potentially build a viral campaign. The core problem that remains though is that many advertisers try to push their viral campaign agenda too far – creating content that is funny or quirky for the sake of being funny or creating something so abstract that no-one can actually understand it. Avoiding this pitfall is integral to letting viral content take hold.

                However, simply creating an advertising campaign using our above guidelines will not necessarily mean that the message will spread virally. It may fail to gel or reach your intended audience or simply get lost amongst the thousands of advertisements released each day. That is why many companies now are using additional techniques to influence their opportunities for a viral spread. The most crucial way we can achieve viral spread is through leveraging social media. In today’s online world more and more companies maintain social media presences and we can utilise these to increase our advertising campaign exposure whilst engendering a viral spread. At the basic level we can provide our already existing fans and followers with the opportunity to share our ad with their friends and to view our advert online. This helps a campaign attain a viral start as you are already encouraging your users to start spreading the advertisement for you. Leveraging these sources is integral to facilitating a viral campaign. We can leverage these sources through promotion, offers, competitions and a plethora of other techniques and marketing firms are now keen to help facilitate this for you.

                If you want to create a viral campaign then you need two things – A great advertisement and a wide platform to showcase it on. Creating a social presence is integral to this process and will help your efforts endlessly.