For most brands, gaining new fans takes time. It requires multiple campaigns that share different facets of your products or services with a variety of markets through a variety of channels. It requires testing and retesting to get the message right. Being patient and learning the right practices will help you learn how to go viral.
But occasionally it doesn’t require any of that because sometimes things go viral.
What Does it Mean to Go Viral?
“Going viral” is a term most commonly used to describe the rapid, organic spread of a social media post. Viral videos, like “Charlie bit my finger” and “Children interrupt BBC News interview,” flow out of YouTube regularly, finding their way to Facebook and other social channels where they are shared and shared again, causing views to skyrocket.
When a post goes viral and represents a brand, rather than a one-year-old who seems to enjoy biting his brother’s finger, virality can mean a huge boost in credibility, market reach, and sales. Popeye’s Chicken, which had a tweet about their new chicken sandwich go viral in 2019, is a great example of what going viral can mean for a brand. Following the tweet, which scored more than 300,000 likes, Popeye’s business boomed with sales increasing by 16 percent, profits rising 13 percent, and drive-thru lines snarling traffic for weeks.
How Does a Brand Go Viral?
For brands that want to follow in Popeye’s footsteps, it is important to keep in mind that going viral is a long shot. Studies have found that the statistical chance of a post going viral on Twitter is one in a million. That means“ post viral video” should not represent the bulk of your brand’s marketing strategy.
Still, it happens. And not just for large brands that already have millions of social followers. Before The Ice Bucket Challenge went viral in 2014, very few people had heard of the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association. In the wake of the challenge’s popularity, the organization raised $220 million.
To improve your chances of being the next brand to go viral, here are some steps that you should take.
Make Sure You Know Your Audience
Virality is not something you can buy, regardless of how much cost-per-click you are able to pay. Virality is given to you by people who see, appreciate, and opt to share your campaign. To improve your chances of going viral, make sure you know your audience. Virality depends on resonating with them.
To go viral, your content needs to get off of your feed and get onto someone else’s feed. What kind of content would your audience want to have on their feed? If you think of a campaign as if it were a T-shirt, the question is, “What kind of T-shirt would your audience be willing to wear to a party where they will see all of their friends?” If you can figure that out, you have a good chance of coming up with a campaign that can go viral.
One way to get to know your audience is spending some time on your followers’ feeds. What kind of content are they sharing? What is the tone? What values are they willing to endorse? Do they love sharing fun posts or are they looking for something with some heart? If they are willing to share a post, it is probably something that their friends are also willing to share.
Knowing your audience not only helps you to craft content that they will want to share, but also helps you to identify markets you have yet to reach or tactics that you have yet to try. Video was a new marketing tactic for the ALSA, when they launched the Ice Bucket Challenge, but it was a tactic that had a huge potential for reaching a new, younger demographic.
Make Sure Your Content is Sharable
When crafting the content that you are hoping will go viral, it is important to understand that some content is more shareable than others. Statistics show that visual content, such as video, pictures, and infographics, has the best chance of attracting the type of attention that is needed for something to go viral. The fact that the word “video” is often paired with the word “viral” should give you a hint as to how videos rank in terms of their potential to go viral.
While viralability (yes, that is a word) is not an exact science, you can count on useful, informative, and timely information having a better chance of spreading rapidly than something that could be considered strictly a marketing plug for your brand. Providing information that is helpful or inspiring empowers people to be helpful and inspiring with a simple share.
A final consideration for ensuring shareability is the quality of your content. If you are going to share a video, shoot for great audio and lighting. If you are sharing a picture, make sure the size and orientation are optimal for the platform where it will be shared.
Make Sure to Leverage Your Expertise
Sometimes going viral does not involve one post or campaign, but happens as a brand or influencer comes to be seen as an expert in an industry.
Otter PR successfully positioned AXIA Coin Founder Nick Agar as a cryptocurrency expert, connecting him with various media outlets to discuss and provide expert analysis on trends in the world of crypto growth, development, and investing. As Nick and his team continued to deliver content that was informative and insightful, they became the trusted, go-to experts in their field.
As a result, their coverage went viral, resulting in nearly 300 pieces of media coverage with a combined reach of 1.3 billion people across all platforms. After being featured in Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and on CBS Tampa, AXIA Coin has seen their reputation and influence expand exponentially and the price of their coin nearly double.
A final word of advice for those who are still awaiting their viral moment: Stay true to who you are. Going viral with something that does not represent your brand will not help to grow your business. Learn from others, but do not copy them. And if you need help developing a strategy that will leverage your brand in a way that empowers you to go viral, connect with a top PR firm like Otter PR today.