The quest for viral marketing is the new face of advertising.
Creating viral marketing begins with creating engaging, compelling content that targets a specific audience.
However, be warned. Viral marketing can be encouraged, it can be prayed for, but it can’t be engineered.
One of the problems with setting out to create viral marketing campaigns is that viral marketing usually skates right along the edge of crude, rude and insensitive. In order create a message with the potential of going viral, one must fine that magic space just outside “the box”. that’s what makes a marketing message go “viral”.
Viral marketing messages evoke one of the following responses:
- cause the audience raise their collective fist in triumph
- make the audience laugh
- cause the audience raise their collective fist in anger
In essence, viral marketing messages evoke the extremes in emotion. In order to do so, the viral message must skate the fine line between offensive and evoking.
Viral Marketing is Social Media Marketing
Viral marketing is just social media marketing on steroids. Whether you call it social media marketing, viral marketing or word of mouth advertising, the foundation is the same. You’re counting on your customers to carry your marketing message.
It’s a fact: people are much more willing to spread bad news than good news. It’s just the nature of the beast. Every business owner should be aware of this “quirk” in human nature and how this “quirk” plays out on the stage of social media. When you’re looking for the “viral influencers” keep in mind that it’s a LOT more fun to spread trash talk than fact!
The Jupiter report built a profile of the typical creator of negative user-generated content. This person is usually a heavy user of social networks, predominantly male (60% are male) and into technology (40% are influential in this area and 23% are considered “early adopters”). They are also a potential valuable audience for marketers as 49% tend to act as brand advocates – which means they tend to be vocal influencers who spread the word online.
Should Viral Be the Goal?
It’s one thing to create a powerful social media marketing message that actually achieves the goal of “going viral.” It’s quite another to set out on a quest for viral marketing. This is literally playing Russian Roulette with the future of your business to set out with the objective of creating a viral marketing campaign.
Viral, by definition, means “uncontrolled”. Imagine taking a feather pillow to the top of a hill and slashing the pillow open with a sharp knife. THAT is how viral marketing works.
Imagine if the harmless bits of down and feather were suddenly transformed into lethal razor blades. This is what often happens in viral marketing. Sometimes, the marketing message “crossed the line.” Other times, the “typical creator of negative user-generated content” gets his hands on your marketing message. The air is suddenly filled with stinging bits of steel instead of white, fluffy down.
When Ariel Waldman aired her complaints against the micro-blogging application Twitter, the message quickly went “viral” and moved beyond the control of Walman, Twitter or any other force on earth. She was forced to close comments on the original blog post, yet the viral messages continues to circulate, having developed a “life of its own” shortly after release into the wild.
It’s my recommendation to my clients to plan on taking an ACTIVE role in the management of their marketing message.
I grew up in the Midwest, in the land of farming and fields. If you’re a business owner, treat your marketing efforts like a field. If you methodically plant your field so it’s full of daisies, then a few weeds here or there won’t ruin the overall effect of the field. If however, all there is in your field is bare dirt – then those few weeds will soon take over and that’s all you’ll have in your field -weeds!
The daisies in this scenario are the carefully cultivated marketing messages you pay to have prepared and delivered. If you have enough of those daisies planted – you don’t have to worry much about the weeds! In other words, viral marketing is fine as long as it’s the icing and not the cake of your marketing strategy!