Just say the word “viral” around a social media specialist and you are sure to get some sort of reaction out of them. They’ll either smile, roll their eyes or immediately start telling you about how the social media world continues to evolve when it comes to creating viral content. Every organization has the goal of having their marketing campaigns go viral, but it takes a high amount of creativity to actually make this happen. So that brings us to this question, “What makes content go viral?”
You’ll get different answers from each person you speak to, but there seems to be some sort of consistency revolving these five tools: The content must be unique, it must speak to the consumer, some sort of video must be involved, the message is clear and it has some sort of call to action.
Having creative content that easily speaks to our consumers is a no brainer. No one wants to see the same piece of content over and over again so it is critical that we are creating something that is able to capture the attention of our target market straight from the beginning. The wording of our posts is also crucial as many brands often times focus too much on trying to sell their product instead of trying to speak to their consumers. People want to speak with brands, not have brands speak to them. If we are able to do this with what we are producing than we are far more likely to succeed.
I may be biased when it comes to video as I’m a total video nerd and will proudly admit that, but social media continues to trend towards video and this will only continue with the emergence of platforms such as Facebook Watch as well as the continued growth of live video. Why is this the case? Well research has shown that the average goldfish has a longer attention span than we do so we need something that will quickly catch our consumer’s eyes. This also goes back to our prior point on producing creative content as high quality video involves a high level of creativity and it will give our target a unique experience with our brand which if done well will make them want to visit our social and digital platforms in the future.
Finally, having a clear message and a call to action are imperative to a successful marketing campaign and that is especially true if we want it to go viral on social. We as consumers want something that is easy to digest and we want to know what is being marketed to us. Do not make it hard for us to guess what we are supposed to be learning about. While we need the content to be creative and eye-catching, we also need to have an idea of what we are supposed to do next. This is also where the call to action comes into play. We need something that makes want to do something more after seeing the ad. Whether it calls for sharing a drink with a friend or buying tickets, we need to know what the company wants us to do next.
Last year, we at the Colorado Rapids Soccer Club were lucky enough to have the team sign United States Men’s National Team legend Tim Howard. His first game was on the 4th of July so we wanted to do everything we could to take this opportunity to really get our name out there to both die-hard soccer fans as well as casual fans or people who may have never heard of the Rapids before. After creating several pieces of content on our social and digital outlets, we were able to create a successful campaign that helped see the team achieve it’s highest attendance in its 21-year history.
The main part of this campaign was a five-part series created by our Director of Digital and Social Media as we followed Tim from his final moments at Everton FC in England and had the series conclude with his first match in burgundy. There were live videos we did with Tim, infographics and we created a specific Instagram layout the day before his first game in order to get fans excited.
Did this campaign go viral in large part because of Tim’s name? Absolutely, but the content produced played a big part in marketing ourselves to the casual Denver sports fan which has helped us produce a higher amount of revenue for all facets of the organization.