Corporations, brands, TikTok newcomers — everybody longs for recognition and profit with a low cost for promotion. Thus, viral marketing is an appropriate topic to discuss. But before we delve into the details, let’s determine what viral marketing actually is.
Viral marketing is a set of marketing techniques that produces content and spreads organically and rapidly from person to person via the Internet. It derives from word-of-mouth marketing and responds to a natural human need for communication and sharing common thoughts with the rest of society.
Viral content can be a video, a small tweet, a photo, or anything else people would like to share with others. Therefore, its natural habitat is social media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.
Virality can only be accomplished when people feel related to the content. So, if you want your content to go viral, you should contemplate possible ways to influence people’s behavior and create something that will draw attention and appeal to the deepest human sensations. Here are the types of content which may come in handy.
Funny. Everybody knows that good humor is a universal issue and easily unites people. Just recall all the videos or memes you have shared with your friends on social networks.
Thought-provoking and relatable. So, this mostly refers to when you watch or read something that is “exactly” what you feel like or think about.
Inspiring and supportive. This type of content reaches a lot of people because it talks straight to people’s greatest desires and provokes them to fight common fears. It offers a shoulder to lean on.
Emotional. In the so-called vibe economy era, emotional imagery is of utmost importance. Influencers and creators try to communicate with sensations, creating content that has a special vibe. For instance, 90s culture Instagram accounts are getting popular due to the feeling of nostalgia or people wanting to experience older times. Unique. Try to develop your own style. This can be hard, considering people’s informational satiety; still, a memorable feature will help you stand out from the crowd. For instance, there are hundreds of language learning platforms, but only Duolingo came up with a “threatening” tone of voice in push notifications, which became a popular meme in 2019.
When people think of a viral marketing strategy, they consider it very expensive to implement. Actually, viral campaigns have a comparatively low cost because companies only create content aimed at the target audience and put it on a social platform. If users like this content, they begin to share it quickly. This, of course, reduces the cost of distribution.
What is also special about viral content is that generally, it is more trustworthy, since it’s shared between acquaintances, friends, or influencers we adore. So, the potential reach is huge, which also increases the likelihood of a revenue boost.
It’s important to understand that by using viral content, brands not only sell their product but also form a community with common values, leading to more interest in buying other goods the company will release in the future. That means not only immediate sales growth but also the extension of a customer’s lifetime value. But one should not forget, when mass sharing starts, viral content becomes uncontrollable, so the risk of misinterpretation should be minimized.
Now, let’s look at advertising campaigns that went viral and, thereby, increased sales significantly.
Suddenly, the smart assistant Alexa loses her voice, and Amazon decides to replace her with celebrities — Anthony Hopkins does his Hannibal Lecter, Gordon Ramsey gives his “adorable” cooking advice as usual, and charismatic Cardi B and seductive Rebel Wilson make everybody feel awkward. It’s not the plot and celebrities that made the ad so effective, but also the idea of how deep our bonds with smart technology are. That’s why at the end of the story, Alexa returns, saying, “Thanks, guys, but I’ll take it from here.”
This is an outstanding advertisement with almost 30 million views on YouTube during the first week and won several awards. According to CIRP, Amazon Echo has started to dominate with 61% of the market share, compared to 31% for Amazon’s competitor product, Google Home.
In 2020 Nathan “Doggface” Apodaca, a TikTok blogger, released a video of himself riding his skateboard, drinking Ocean Spray cranberry juice, and singing along to the Fleetwood Mac song “Dreams.” His friendly, life-loving attitude took the Internet and changed Nathan’s life forever.
A lot of users started to pay tribute to the original, and even Mick Fleetwood, the band’s co-founder, joined TikTok and posted his own remake. Eventually, Nathan’s success regained “Dreams’ popularity — a 374% growth in sales and an 89% in streams.
So, what is the secret to such a success? Probably sincerity and a positive vibe that conquered the hearts of millions.
Another great example of viral marketing is a campaign launched by Beats, the famous rapper Dr. Dre’s company. The aim was to promote a biopic “Straight Outta Compton” — a history of a gangsta rap band N.W.A., which Dre and his friends had started in the late 80s.
The North Kingdom agency created a meme generator so that everybody could make a personalized Straight Outta logo. The main idea was to show pride in the place you were born in. The campaign took off when tennis player Serena Williams and NFL player Richard Sherman presented their own Straight Outta Somewhere memes. As a result, Beats became the number one trend on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, at the same time.
The campaign attracted a lot of celebrities and even the Obama Administration. The Straight Outta Compton movie raised more than $200 million in box office sales in less than two months.
Summing up, viral marketing is a great instrument for creators to start from scratch and for companies to attract a more loyal audience. It requires creativity, a deep understanding of human nature, global trends, and a bit of luck. Anyway, it’s worth trying because the results can be surprisingly pleasant.