What Makes a Marketing Campaign Go Viral?

Here’s a harsh truth: just because you put something on social media doesn’t mean it will  automatically “go viral.” The best viral social media campaigns are (or at least appear to be) spontaneous. They evoke laughter or emotions. They provoke thought. They’re adorable, or maybe even edgy. They all have a certain “it factor” that makes people want to hit those all-important “like” and “share” buttons. Marketers need to keep these thoughts in mind as they turn their attention to the Gen Z audience, who by next year will make up 40% of all customers. They are digital natives with cynically short attention spans.

Every day there is a new video being shared around the world, whether it’s a sweet video of a father having a full conversation with his toddler or a social awareness campaign like Nike’s “Dream Crazy.” Although it may seem easy to pull out your camera, post a video, and get noticed, there’s no clear-cut way to ensure that a campaign will go viral. 

While there is no secret formula to make a campaign go “viral”, there are applicable strategies to ensure you are creating an engaging social media campaign. It would be too easy to employ an A-list celebrity to effortlessly draw attention to your campaign, but for a lot of companies and individuals, that dream is not financially attainable. 

What is attainable? First, you have to target a specific audience. The campaign needs to be broad enough to attract a significant number of viewers. Think big. Is your target going to be dog lovers? How about beer connoisseurs? Or what about football fanatics? 

Now that you have your target, ask yourself, ‘how do I create buzz around my campaign?’ Here are three solutions. It needs to be memorable, it needs to be relatable, and it needs to provoke some type of emotion

Be memorable. You have to give viewers a reason to keep replaying it, to want to share it, to want to care. No dog lover would ever forget that first day they brought home their new pup. 

Be relatable. You need to make your viewers see themselves, think of someone they know, or simply make the content resemble an experience that has happened in your audience’s life. A lot.

Provoke emotion. Most people don’t want to cry, laugh, or smile alone. By drawing a certain feeling from your audience, it makes that viewer more likely to share it with someone or multiple people around them. Every football fan remembers what it felt like when their team won its first SuperBowl. That feeling would not have meant the same thing if it had been experienced alone. What makes that moment extra special is sharing it with the people around you. 

At the end of the day, marketers are trying to sell a product and connect with their audience. So, while a video ad may get an uptick in views, how do you get them to stay and become a customer for life? Do it again. Continue to find ways of connecting with your audience that make them believe in you as a brand.