7 Key Elements for Viral Content

Creating viral content that taps into the human psyche is the holy grail for many marketers.7 Key Elements for Viral Content image 7 Key Elements for Viral Content7 Key Elements for Viral Content

Going viral is quite possibly the fastest, most cost effective method to publicize your business on a grand scale. The beauty of a viral YouTube video that when combined with a tweet and mass media, is that your brand will make a memorable impression on a huge audience within a short time.

A classic example of a viral marketing campaign is Blendtec’s “Will it Blend?” series, which was viewed by millions and raised the company’s sales of blenders over 700%. And viral content means your viewers do the work of spreading your product and brand for you.

That is the beauty of crowd sourced marketing.

So a viral video is a publicist’s dream and a marketers hope for fame but there’s just one question:

How do you do it?

What makes something go viral in the first place? Here are 7 key elements of most viral marketing pieces with some fun examples.

Key Elements of Viral Content

Viral content requires the aligning of the stars, but if you crack it then the benefits are global, rapid and financial.

#1. Keep It Simple

Your message should be simple but compelling and without an ounce of excess flab. Just get your brand out there… in a good way.

High quality content is key.

Most people can tell the difference between meat and fluff, and that makes the crucial difference in what they will take the time to read or view and pass on to others. The Diet Coke and Mentos video wasn’t produced by either company, yet it was a boon to sales for both. A great, more serious example is Dove’s Evolution, which was viewed by millions with the simple idea of helping increase women’s self esteem (and sales).

#2. Make Them Feel

Touch your audience’s hearts, souls or nerve endings. In a world that tends to be all business, make folks laugh out loud, cry or blink in surprise (preferably all three) and you will make them remember you. Old Spice has gone viral with clips that combine a wry sense of humor with unexpected plot twists, bringing this venerable firm into the 21st century with a 107% increase in sales.

If your industry is serious, don’t be afraid to make a joke (as long as it’s in good taste).

#3. Make It Real

There’s no need to pretty up your product or fake your viewers out. If you’re selling septic tanks, for instance, just let the world know that you exist and that you’ve got the best darn septic tanks in town, or possibly on the planet.

Ikea’s Herding Cats was real, wasn’t it? Relevant also helps. If you can pull it together to relate to a current event, an issue in your industry or a popular trend that will help but you’ve still got to ensure it’s relevant to your audience. Or you can keep it real like Smirnoff’s Tea Partay.

#4. Reach Out

Your goal is not just to manufacture widgets but to make those widgets meaningful and relevant. To do this, you need to tailor your message to your audience. Use language, images and, of course, a medium that your intended customers will relate to.

The launch video for Apple’s iOS5, for instance, showed casually dressed Apple executives demonstrating the device’s new features with catchy, flashy shots of the product. Although at almost 6 minutes, this video is on the long side, it has still been viewed by more than 3 million potential customers.

A classic reach out winner is babies, used by Evian. Nothing too complex here but then again you don’t need it because…babies. Or you can go the route of Levi’s and make it just look like the ad campaign is a group of kids jumping into jeans and filming themselves.

#5. Sharing and Caring

Project that you share the same view of the world as your audience. Connect to common concerns. For example, the International Social Survey Program found, in surveying 33 countries, that the state of the economy tops the list of issues considered most pressing.

So the themes of saving money or creating jobs are likely to resonate with your public. Keep the mood positive, even inspirational, and the chances of being liked or forwarded increase.

Two great examples are the Armstrong Livestrong bracelet and the story of the Mustache movement for men’s health awareness.

#6. Give a Little

Offer something in return for your viewers’ or readers’ time and attention. ‘How to (insert topic)’ tips and instructions, discounts or freebies and solid news updates are all ways to provide perceived value, which can then be tied in with your particular business.

An off kilter, daring, funny example is the Dollar Shave Club, a parody on the fad of clubs out there, hilarious and at the same time chock full of marketing. You’ll need to watch it at least twice to catch it all.

#7. Bring Clients to You

Make it easy for potential customers to reach you. Make sure that they can get to your online assets including websites, blogs and social networks. In short, you need to have all the bells, whistles (and buttons) for your viewers to easily share your masterpiece.

There are no guarantees

Now all that being said, you can select all of the above and put them together into an “epic” vlog and then what? You post it and wait for the earth to move, yet somehow… it doesn’t. There is no way of predicting with 100% certainty what will go viral and what will merely make your mother happy.

As well as content, timing and sheer luck play a role in going viral. But that’s the beauty of viral; some of the best come from a crazy list of ideas, quickly thought up. They are fast projects so even if they don’t get the response you hoped for, you have not invested a major portion of your publicity budget (unless you worked on the Sony Bravia project, because all those bunnies in NYC couldn’t have been easy).

If at first you don’t succeed, it’s quick and simple to try again with a different approach. The last thing to keep in mind is you just never know. You could promote and release it today and it could go viral months from now.

So think contagious and go viral.

Image by Shutterstock

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