How to make a viral marketing campaign?

To a large extent, making a viral marketing campaign follows the same steps as creating any campaign:

Set the goals

Virals are especially suited for branding and for collecting customer data (e.g. to build an email list or increase the number of followers on social media).

Create the message

This is usually quite difficult as the message (both content and package) has to be attractive to go viral. However, creating a viral actually contains three elements which have to be created:

  • Remarkable content: this can be a text, photo, video, game or something else worth sharing. A few tips:
    • KISS: Keep it simple and short
    • Select a large enough target segment
    • Make it relevant for the target segment
    • Be original and authentic
    • Sex sells: and so do rude and fun content.
  • Sharing mechanisms: it is important to make the viral easy to share. Most social media platforms each have their ways to share. Make sure to support these by adding the necessary buttons. However, you may want to add your own sharing tools as well, like “tell a friend” or e-cards.
  • Platform: Most virals need to end somewhere. Readers may want more information, subscribe to your newsletter or even buy the product on your (micro)site.

Test the message

Just like any marketing campaign, testing before launching is advisable. Simple A/B testing can already realize significant improvements. However, viral marketing needs extra attention as people are more sensitive for viral messages (send to you by your mom) as they are for ads (which they have been trained to ignore). Is the message really funny or just hurting people? Do people understand the message? Are multiple interpretations possible? As viral messages can easily go global, how are virals considered in other cultures and countries?

For example KLM (the Dutch airline) tweeted a message “Adios Amigos! #NEDMEX” after the Dutch won the match against the Mexicans during the World Cup in 2014. The post went viral due to a famous Mexican actor who retweeted the message to his 2 million followers with the message he would never fly with KLM again (source: http://blogs.icemd.com/blog-spread-knowledge/mexico-vs-holland-and-klm-lesson-learnt/). What KLM might have forgotten was that they are no longer just a Dutch company but rather an international one.

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