In 2014, when Pete Frates and Pat Quinn, members of the Texas ALS Association, launched the Ice Bucket Challenge, they didn’t know what a viral success it would become.
The challenge quickly became popular among celebrities, who decided to participate in it to spread awareness about the association’s main cause – Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Among these celebrities were Chris Pratt, Robert Downey Jr., Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Bill Gates, whose YouTube video featuring this challenge has 35 million views:
Video credit: YouTube/Bill Gates
As a result of this challenge going viral, the association received $115 million in donations and significantly raised awareness about the disease.
This is a great example of a campaign that went viral for all the right reasons – it targeted a specific audience, used an outstanding content idea to attract attention, and focused on the greater good.
That being said, viral success doesn’t happen overnight. If you want to use viral marketing to your benefit, prior data analysis and audience analytics can help a lot.
Let’s take a look at a few tips on how to do viral marketing properly and make sure your efforts don’t go to waste.
1. Choose the Channel for Targeting
It’s no secret that social media platforms are the best place to go viral. But when it comes to this point, not all social media platforms are created equal.
The choice of the platform for your viral marketing efforts will depend on where you have your most active audience.
Consider Google, for example. The brand’s most-followed social media account is on Facebook (28 million followers). Yet, the brand’s most active social media platform in terms of audience engagement is YouTube – Google’s videos often get from 300K to several million views, and the brand’s YouTube channel has only about 10 million subscribers:
In comparison, the latest post on Google’s Facebook page got only 19 reactions and a couple of comments:
As you can see, the activity of your audience is an important factor for the viral potential of your marketing campaign. But before you jump right into creating content, do a bit of research on who your target audience on the most active social platform actually is.
Checking the demographics of your audience plays an important role in defining the content strategy for your viral campaign. You can check this information through the Analytics tab on a respective platform. There, you will see the percentage of your most active followers, their age, and gender.
Here’s a general example for you of how the data on audience demographics looks on Facebook:
When choosing the platform for your viral marketing campaign, keep in mind that your audience on this platform will be the first to receive your content and spread the word about it. And, the more active this audience is, the faster your content will go viral.
2. Use of Social Data to Find the Right Content
Now, as you have established which platform you will choose to run your viral marketing campaign, it’s time to choose the content for it.
First and foremost, you should consider the goal of your business and product in general. Having a clear image of how you want your brand and product represented online can give you general ideas for viral content.
However, product goals are not the only factor to determine the type of content to be used in your viral marketing campaign. Since your audience will be the first to spread the word about your campaign, they need to fall in love with it. Thus, you need to consider their content preferences.
The most effective way to study your audience’s preferred content types is through social data they share through social media – their likes, shares, content, and general feedback.
This information is collected on every platform and can be viewed through the Analytics tab. Here’s how it looks on Facebook:
To find out what types of content your audience likes, you need to consider the columns highlighted in the image above. There, you will be able to find social data on the exact type of content for each post and how much reach and engagement it delivered.
With the best-performing content, you will notice a repeating pattern and high reach and engagement. Thus, it’s safe to use this type of content in your viral marketing efforts.
Apart from learning which content type your audience will be more likely to share, it’s important to take timing into account. After all, you can create the best content possible, but if you don’t reach your audience at the right time, your viral marketing efforts will be in vain.
Social data can help you figure out the best time to post your content as well. For instance, here’s an example of the audience activity data from a marketing campaign for an English-learning podcast on Facebook:
Audience activity on Facebook
The graph above shows the time when the audience usually checks the Facebook Feed. Thus, the chances are higher that they will actually come across their post.
There is a direct connection between the timing of your post and its potential to go viral. If you manage to figure out the precise time when your audience is active, it will be easier for you to capture their interest in your content, and your audience will be more inclined to share it.
3. Take Advantage of a Viral Trend
There is one common characteristic feature of all viral content – it always follows a certain trend.
Remember the viral debate about the dress that changed its colour depending on the light, and no one could tell for sure whether it’s blue or white? Tide took advantage of this trend back then and turned it into a tweet that got very popular:
Image credit: Tide
So, if you want your content to go viral, you constantly need to be on the hunt for current internet trends.
One of the most time-effective ways to do it is to check Google Trends using the keywords that can be relevant for your marketing campaign:
Once you determine that the keyword is trending, you can set Google Alerts for it and monitor the most popular resources that Google sends to you daily:
You can also set alerts for your industry news to have all the relevant trends under the radar and make sure you don’t miss an opportunity to take advantage of them and use them for your viral efforts.
It usually seems that all viral successes happen overnight, but often there’s a lot of work that goes into making a marketing campaign go viral.
First and foremost, you need to determine the right platform for your viral content and make sure that your audience there is very active and receptive.
Once you’ve figured out the right audience for your campaign, it’s time to choose the right content. Consider your brand’s goals, but make sure you take into account your audience’s content preferences as well.
Lastly, if you want your content to go viral faster, it needs to follow a popular trend. So, create alerts for all industry-related topics that would draw the attention of your audience, push it to spread the word faster, and make your content go viral.
If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to drop a comment below. Read more of our Marketing Blogs to stay updated, and build your own strong marketing plans.
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