Viral marketing is already a strategy most international organizations are using as leverage in building loyalty between their brands and customers. It started way long in getting words and songs being passed on easily among individuals who find them ‘interesting’. Before the Internet boom, viral marketing was commonly referred to as “word-of-mouth”, “buzz” marketing. The advent of the Internet and the technology has made it easily to create, sell and share data over the Internet has increased the possibilities in unimaginable proportions, so hate it or like it, the term “viral marketing” has stuck. Welcome to the word-of-mouse generation.
One of the few remarkable things about viruses is their ability to multiply. Coming from a background in the Microbiology where I spent some time in the Microbiology Labs of Obafemi Awolowo University hoping to see bacteria under microscopes, the word viral marketing relates to strategies used for concepts, ideas or products or that spread like a virus. Articles, eBooks and videos are some of the modes which people and businesses leverage on in spreading, marketing and promoting their business or cause.
I have particularly been enjoying some videos lately. I sat in the lobby of Dufil Prima when I first saw the Mama do Good advert and I voted for it going viral. I also was thrilled with TYBello’s new release ‘The Future is here’ and believe it will too. Getting your videos to go viral is not entirely in your hands, just as getting your product to gain wide acceptability is dependent on the market response, but there are basic principles to aid viral distribution that indicates explosive proportion.
These are my key principles when developing viral strategies
1. Make the Video/ eBook Remarkable
That is the word – remarkable. It doesn’t matter the amount of money spent in making the videos, it will only go viral if it is remarkable. Remarkable means there must be something worthy of a second look in your videos – it is unusual, interesting, funny, engaging, breaking news, controversial; in short the brain of an average person should be able to identify a talking point from it.
The most popular of these is the creative and controversial videos of BlendTec, a company making blenders (their website). They created a low budget video where they tested the powers of the blending machine against anything – vuvuzela, golf balls, ipad, iphone e.t.c. one of the videos actually made it to number 39 as the top 50 viral videos of TIME magazine. Check here for them
Another idea is to make a spoof of your original advert as a strategy to generate talking points from the programme. If it isn’t remarkable and it flies, you must be lucky!
2. Easy transfer to others
The ability to transfer and share your video/ebook is a one of the factors that make it easy for people to share and distribute your digital content. The availability to have the video in an easy-to-share mode/format aids the distribution process between individual and enthusiasts. “Free” is an attractive word when it comes to viral marketing.
Once you have created a valuable product, ensure you encourage product distribution by locating digital communities where conversations and sharing are going on about your product/brand. Examples of such include; Youtube Vimeo, Facebook, Myspace, Yahoo and other communities that encourage easy distribution of data.
Short and straight forward videos and articles, instructive eBooks, light and easy to understand, stream and store formats on ipads, phones, emails and laptops are one of the leverages the ease of communication technology offers.
3. Skip the legal cobwebs: Give up control
In an idea and information age, fighting the battle to keep your intellectual property from going viral seems like a ill-informed battle. Consider the case of Blue Labs Limited company battling the Buhari Campaign organization for uploading a video created by one of their fans using their content-rich but largely unknown song. Frankly a powerful song, the impact it would have made was eclipsed by a spontaneous interest for gain and profit. This is a critical principle of brand loyalty. Once a people are passionate about your brand, you let them own it. Social media campaigns are extremely engaging in that they allow their fans to own and interpret the brand in their own language. Example is the campaign by Starbucks called My Star Bucks Idea and the Pepsi’s refreshing ideas campaign ( here) . Linus Trovalds gave out the source code of Linux operating system and became a global icon.
Giving away products for free may not earn profit today but if the business gets to develop customer base by giving something for free, it will soon generate income for them. Once you have cleared the trademarks and copyright status, give it wings and let it fly.
4. Identify and leverage on your key Influencers
Apart from uploading it to the social community is said that an average person has about 50 to 100 members in their close network of family, friends and colleagues. Moreover, internet gives way to creating a bigger network circle with which information and data can be shared. Learning to use these existing networks in viral marketing will yield better results.
Identifying key individuals in helping promote your product will also help your in developing brand. Getting them to review your product or video, tagging them and encouraging them in the promotion efforts will help your brand gain visibility.
4. Exploit motivation and behaviors
Trendspotters will never forget the impact of the Mimee noodles ‘Boom sha sha’ product campaign. The success of this campaign which was managed by DDB Lagos owed its success to their ability to leverage on children rhymes and songs. Once they got a buy in from children who were the primary target consumers, the rest is history.
Cowbell Milk’s Ogonge milk campaign is also on the road to being viral and they have launched a campaign to support the move. They are leveraging on youth’s penchant for dance hall party songs, the acceptance of f indigenous songs and the flexibility of changing ring-tones on phones and other digital accessories.
I particularly love TYBellos’s “I am the future” and I believe the timing was smart, though a little late in coming.( I have a bias – I am a secret fan)
An understanding of your target audience psychographics and consumer behaviour will further promote the possibility of your song/video/product developing wings.
5. Lead it right back to you!
What if a lot of people see your video without knowing your intentions? Your viral marketing strategy will not make sense if it doesn’t lead right back to you. If it is about a product or service, include a call to action. If you are seeking to build a reputation or promoting a brand, include an address, website or blog – even an advert!. If your are seeking a build a list later, your viral video is giving your that opportunity.
Not considering this may defeat the purpose of doing viral marketing. Once people begin to share and talk about your stuff, they should know where the action is taking place.
Above all making your data viral-compatible is the first step; the rest is left to your target audience. Patience is important in viral marketing and you need to know that consumer engagement has gone social and it needs to catch the social media virus – You win!