It's the holy grail of online marketing: the campaign that goes viral. Massive numbers of views, a staggering amount of social shares, and the kind of brand awareness money simply can't buy. But crafting a successful viral campaign is no easy feat; in fact, most experts say you can't really plan it with a marketing strategy definition at all — it either happens, or it doesn't, and luck is no small factor.
But that doesn't mean you can't craft your campaigns to increase your odds of viral success. The key is to tap into your audience’s "lizard brain."
“Stories that evoke very primal emotions tend to work best,” says Neetzan Zimmerman. He should know: during his time at Gawker, he generated an insane amount of traffic — more than all of his other colleagues combined. So which emotions do you target? How do you start? By getting to know your audience and understanding what makes them tick, first and foremost! Then, try these three proven viral strategies to help your next campaign spread like wildfire.
1. Make them laugh.
Why it works: Funny marketing videos downplay the hard sell and instead go for "surprise and delight." They make people say, “I have got to see that again!” This cranks up the view count, and makes people want to share a laugh with friends. Positive emotions like joy are much more likely to trigger an action like social sharing. (Check out our recent work humor video, "Beware the Managers from Hell!")
2. Make a bold statement.
Why it works: These campaigns go for the gut, tapping into powerful emotions. People connect to your message on a deeper, "Me too!" level and genuinely want to spread the word or share your cause.
3. Make their jaws drop.
Why it works: The awefactor. These are the videos that make people turn to their friends and say, "You gotta see this!" Everyone wants to be the first person to share something cool or amazing with their friends.
Warning! Don’t get so wrapped up in achieving viral status that you stray too far and your campaign ends up having nothing to do with your brand. If people remember your campaign but can’t remember what company or product it’s associated with, your efforts are wasted.