Should You Worry about Going Viral?

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Is “going viral” actually something you should try to do – or is it just a marketing buzzword?

It seems like every other day one random thing or another is going viral. But is creating viral content really a viable marketing strategy? Is going viral even something you can control?

Let’s take an in-depth look at viral content and how it can affect your business.

The Big Picture

Creating content that goes viral is not very important. In fact, be wary of anyone who promises they can create viral content. Even if you have content that does go viral, that won’t necessarily lead to any long-term marketing benefits.

Plus, even if you dedicated 100% of your resources to creating viral content, there’s no guarantee that content will ever go viral. But viral content shouldn’t be completely discounted as random or simply lucky. There’s actually a lot to learn by looking at viral content.

No two viral videos are the same, but there are certain common features found in many different viral features. By looking closely at these features, we can know more about what makes content popular in general.

The bottom line is this: Don’t worry too much about creating viral content, but there are few strategies you can use from viral videos. These simple tips might not make your content go viral, but they absolutely can increase engagement and reach.

Use Videos

Video goes viral more often than any other type of content. Hubspot has some pretty amazing statistics about video:

  • 92% of mobile users have shared a video with others
  • Watching a video accounts for over a third of all online activity
  • One-third of all consumers trusts video ads

Videos can be complicated to make, but you don’t want to ignore them completely. Try to post a short video at least once a month. You can make the most of your video by following these other “viral” rules:

Tell a Story

Viral videos tell a quick story. Even “Damn Daniel” has a simple story, as random as the whole thing may be. Using the same phrase over a long period time gives the viewer a funny peak into the lives of these two kids. Damn Daniel is the type of viral video that becomes really popular very naturally. Certainly, there was no reason for the kids to think it would go viral.

Other types of viral videos are a bit more calculated. The first Dollar Shave Commercial looks like a professional product with great production values, top-notch acting and quick-witted writing.

When marketing for your brand, you’re going to focus on the second type of video. Capturing a moment in the zeitgeist like Damn Daniel isn’t really possible for a brand, but a more professional approach has a more consistent chance to go viral (or at least get some nice views).

Be Professional

The Dollar Shave commercial is a bit unusual. The guy in the commercial is both the real CEO of the company and a graduate of the UCB Comedy School. You don’t have to be a professionally trained comedian to go viral. While comedy is certainly an asset in a video, people relate to sincerity, too. Just be yourself – like Chewbacca Mom.

Emphasize Value

Viral or otherwise, you’re not aiming for your content to be engaging or funny for no reason. The point is to drive sales and engage with your audience. Aside from telling a story, you also want to emphasize the value of your product or service.

Your video can be a direct advertisement, with a specific product mention, like the Dollar Shave ad. You can also avoid a product mention altogether in an attempt create mystery. A popular example for this type of video was the mysterious (and massive) viral campaign for the movie Cloverfield.

Make the Content Easy to Share

Viral videos need to be easy to watch on any size screen. Keep your images bold and high energy. Get right to the point. Certain formatting issues help videos be noticed on social media. Headlines should be descriptive and don’t forget to also add an extra description for Facebook.

Take a Risk

Content goes viral because it’s not the same ol’, same ol’. If you try something new, you might just find yourself with a big hit. Of course, always keep marketing in mind. Don’t go too far over the line of good taste. But within reason, feel free to go for jokes or take other risks.

Plan for Success

The big difference between viral success and one-hit wonder is what happens right after the content goes viral. You always want to have a plan. This doesn’t mean plan for having the biggest viral hit in the world.

You do want to prepare for new views, however. Create specific landing pages related directly to your content. Continue the themes from the video.

Lucky or Not, Viral Videos Have the Right Formula

You can’t predict when content will go viral but that’s OK. These few simple strategies found in viral videos can help boost your content even without pushing it to the viral level.

Use videos, tell a story and make your content easy to share. Consistent engagement over time leads to loyal customers and repeated sales – and that’s actually better than viral!


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