How Viral Content Benefits Businesses – And How You Can Attempt To Go Viral Yourself.

In the digital age, viral content has heavily influenced not just the phrases we use on social media and the way we view celebrities and other prominent figures, but also the way we view and interact with different brands. 

Brands often employ a range of techniques in an effort to produce successful, shareable content, which – if done right – can directly influence sales and raise the public opinion of the brand.

Another benefit of successful viral advertising is that you don’t need to pay for promotion for it to be successful. If it’s good enough, viewers will share it themselves, which takes care of the advertising for you.

When looking to take advantage of this phenomenon for your own business, what steps should you take, and what past successful and not-so-successful viral advertising campaigns should you look at and learn from to produce successful viral content for yourself?

Choose Your Format and Platform Wisely

What sort of content are you hoping to produce, and which target demographic are you hoping to see it? When we consider viral content, we often think first of viral videos, placed either on a video sharing site such as YouTube or a social media platform such as Facebook.

YouTube was the original home of the viral video and the home of many previous successful viral ad campaigns. 

Youtube viral marketing

Perhaps the earliest example of this was the Old Spice ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’ campaign.

In which actor Isaiah Mustafa directly addressed the advertisement’s female audience, and compared himself to their respective partners, describing the kinds of luxury lifestyle they could emulate by asking their partners to use Old Spice body wash. 

Since the advert got uploaded to YouTube, it’s received almost 60 million views, and has positively influenced public perception of the Old Spice brand overall – it led to a 107% increase in sales in the months following its release.

With the rise of Facebook Video, however, Facebook may be the new most appropriate choice for viral video advertising.

If you can produce an advertisement that makes viewers want to share the video or tag their friends in the comment section, you could be looking at reaching a vast potential audience with every viewer.

However, social media now takes many forms, and so does viral marketing – with the popularity of mostly text-based social networking sites such as Twitter, it’s possible to create a viral marketing campaign without the use of videos at all.

Fast-food chain Wendy’s has perhaps used Twitter to their advantage in viral marketing the most. 

Since 2017, Wendy’s had become a Twitter sensation with their no-nonsense responses to fellow Twitter users. For example, when one user asked “my friends like Wendy’s but I don’t, what do I tell them?”, the official Wendy’s account responded to “apologise for being wrong”

Wendy's popular tweet

This, and other similar tweets from the account, racked up multiple-thousands of retweets from amused followers and positively influenced perception of the chain overall. 

However, one thing to note is that Wendy’s made sure to remain professional, sympathetically and quickly responding to users with genuine complaints or enquiries.

This tactic worked so well for Wendy’s because they kept their target demographic in mind – teens and young adults, who use Twitter, and were amused by this unusual approach to social media marketing from an established brand. 

Depending on your target demographic, you can most certainly improve the perception of your brand and raise brand awareness overall by taking a less robotic approach to customer engagement via social media.

Get Creative To Get Viral

The most successful viral marketing campaigns are the ones which produce shareable, exciting content. 

One of the most recognisable viral advertisements of recent years is perhaps the Little Baby’s Ice Cream “This Is A Special Time” campaign, which was shared millions of times by viewers due to it’s unsettling, yet amusing nature. 

Little Baby’s Ice Cream was a reasonably small business at the time, with only one existing location in Philadelphia, yet received national attention due to the shareable nature of the advertisement. 

Little Baby’s Ice Cream Viral Video

If you wish to emulate this effect for your own business, you have to think outside of the box – the best way to get viewers sharing your content is to produce a kind of content that they haven’t seen before.

Think about something which will grab attention, and that your brand can fit into fairly easily – then make this the basis for your idea.

Learn what types of content to produce for viral campaigns.

Make It Clear Who’s Content It Is

It goes without saying that the number of viewers watching and sharing your advertisement won’t influence your brand awareness or sales at all if it isn’t made clear that it is, in fact, an advertisement. 

Be sure your brand name is at the forefront of your content, and that there’s no disputing who or what the content is advertising.

Consider Public Perception

Many companies in the past have made the mistake of attempting to produce thought-provoking content, which has actually alienated customers against the brand itself.

Pepsi received backlash for an advertisement in 2017, which showed reality TV star Kendall Jenner using the drink as a peace offering during a stand-off between protestors and law enforcement. 

watch video

Needless to say, viewers felt the advertisement wasn’t just transparent but in poor taste.

This effect can be seen in the current climate, too, in which companies have received backlash for the ‘opportunistic’ nature of ‘sentimental’ content, which looks to capitalise on the Coronavirus pandemic or Black Lives Matter movement.

The best route to go down, especially as a small business or newer company, is to make your content shareable in a way which is amusing or relatable, or just different. 

Don’t do anything which grabs attention by offending, or attempts to start a more profound social or political discussion. 

The most successful viral campaigns are ones which consider their target demographic, chosen platform, and get their brand message across in a way that is enjoyable to watch, discuss and share with friends.

Top tips on content to produce for viral marketing.