There’s no denying that social media can be a powerful marketing tool. In fact, when used correctly, social media can help your marketing campaigns to go viral. But what exactly is viral marketing? Viral marketing refers to the process of creating content that is so compelling that it encourages users to share it with their friends and followers, thus exponentially increasing your content’s exposure in the process.
Now, with regard to how to create viral content, it’s anyone’s guess. However, the growing body of research on the topic has yielded certain common themes among content that ends up going viral: in other words, virality doesn’t just have to be a function of luck. It can also be engineered.
- Quantity or quality? Well, there are different points of view here. Some like the YouTube wonderkid Mr. Beast (click here to learn about how he went from 0 subscribers to over 100M on YouTube) argue that the key to creating viral content is to focus on quality over quantity. In other words, it’s better to create one great piece of content that will be shared hundreds of times than to create dozens of mediocre pieces that will only be shared a few times. Others, however, argue that since there is no guarantee that your content will go viral (I mean how many people thought that Khaby Lame would gain over 100M followers on TikTok just for basically shrugging on camera!), one should pump out as much content as possible. Personally, I think there’s a happy balance between quality and quantity but it’s one that you must figure out for yourself based on factors such as bandwidth, budget, target demographic, competitive analysis, etc. A great way to figure out a starting point is by doing a competitive analysis and looking at what the industry leaders in space are doing.
- Shareability. Additionally, you need to make sure that your content is easily shareable. For example, if you’re creating a video, you should consider uploading it to YouTube or another video-sharing site rather than simply embedding it on your website. By making your content easy to share, you’ll increase the chances that it will be shared by as many people as possible. Now, this is easier said than done because, for your content to be shareable, it needs to resonate with the audience by being either relatable, humorous, emotional, or eliciting any other strong emotional response. Pro Tip: Some platforms are designed to be inherently more shareable than others. For example, liking content on Facebook makes it visible to your friends and followers, but this is not the case with Instagram or YouTube. Starting off with a platform like Facebook and/or LinkedIn (depending on your target demographic of course) may be worthwhile due to the more shareable nature of the platforms. To this end, I highly recommend reading Brendan Kane’s ‘One Million Followers‘ and ‘Hook Point‘ to learn more about what makes content inherently shareable, and if you don’t feel like reading, follow his channel where he breaks down some of the most viral content on social media.
- Strategic Partners & Ads. Finally, now that you have shareable high-quality content, you need to make sure it gets exposure. In particular, if you are working with an inherently not-so-share-friendly platform like Instagram, you need to either find strategic partners with a following that will endorse your content and/or run social media ads using the campaign manager of your respective channel of communication. Or better yet, you could do both. Now, yes, I know what you are thinking: this will cost some Benjamins, so you might need to set aside a social media budget. Influencers with a smaller following may endorse your posts for free, but this is unlikely to happen with larger accounts (think 10K followers or more). Influencer marketing is by far one of the most effective ways to gain not just exposure but trust if done correctly. To learn more about how to get started with influencer marketing, stay tuned for our next blog post dropping on October 13, 2022. But just a teaser, I recommend starting with ‘micro-influencers’ (accounts with 5-10K followers) and reaching out to as many as possible before graduating up the ranks as your page gets more followers and credibility.
In order to create content that has the potential to go viral, businesses or influencers need to create content that is relevant and engaging. This means understanding what their target audience wants to see and creating content that resonates with them. Additionally, businesses need to make sure that their content uses catchy headlines, eye-catching images, and attention-grabbing videos. Finally, they should also promote their content across all of their social media channels and use paid advertising or influencer marketing to reach a wider audience. While you could write entire books on the science of viral marketing (and there are!), by following these steps, businesses should see an increase in their odds of creating content that catches social media by storm!