YOU ONLY COUNT WHEN YOU'RE CONTAGIOUS: THE VALUE OF GOING VIRAL

12 November 2015

By now we’ve all seen the kinds of zeros that get put after social media stats – and they’re pretty scary if you’re faint of heart: users upload 100 hours of video to YouTube every 60 seconds and share more than 4.75 billion pieces of content on Facebook every 24 hours.  As for tweets, there are half a billion new ones every day. That makes the Internet a pretty tough crowd in anybody’s book.  

How do you get noticed without doing the digital version of screaming your lungs out?

Simple: get contagious; because your big campaign just isn’t worth the budget unless it goes viral.  Any useful digital marketer knows that social media has really put the power in the hands of the audience and they’re the boss now. These are not people that want you constantly tapping on their shoulder or flashing lights in their face. Do that and they’ll bin your brand faster than you can type a hashtag.  Instead, they want to feel like an organic part of the process; like they’re passing insider information to friends because it’s worth sharing, not because you’ve harassed them.

So what does it take to get a campaign on the market’s radar?  

In a word: Emotion.  Whether you’re making people laugh, making them angry, making them scared or putting them in awe, extreme emotions get responses; fact.  That said, you’re always on safer ground when you’re starting with a laugh.  In fact, most of the world’s big-hitting viral campaigns are about getting the LOL.  Done right, cracking your audience up cracks it every time, as proven by campaigns like the Old Spice Guy.  

This tongue in cheek campaign revived the brand’s fortune, bringing Old Spice out of the ‘old man’ cupboard and firmly to the apex of cool.  If you can add an animal, so much the better, as proven by UK mobile network Three’s #danceponydance campaign (because who isn’t going to share a moonwalking Shetland Pony?).

Cash helps

When you need something a little bigger than a giggle, consider the rewards of going interactive.  Getting your audience to participate in your brand is one of the fastest and most sure-fire ways to get a campaign spreading.  One of the best examples of this thinking can be seen in the Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” campaign, where consumers were invited to submit their idea for the brand’s next flavour, with the winning entry getting $1 million prize.  Admittedly the big booty prize money was a drawcard, but almost 4 million ideas were sent in and over 1 million consumers voted on the final choice, meaning that Lay’s really saw a return on investment.

What about a little shock and awe?  

The undoubted experts at making jaws drop are the guys behind Evian’s ‘babies’.  Danone's luxury water brand first flighted its ‘Roller Babies’ clip in 2009, which featured CGI infants tackling extreme roller-skating stunts.  Today ‘Roller Babies’ holds a spot in the Guinness World Records as the most viewed online ad ever, with more than 25 million views in less than two months because it mastered being funny, cute, uplifting and awesome in one go.

There’s no need to feel intimidated by viral campaigns; there’s a method behind it that anyone can master.  As Jonah Berger, who wrote Contagious: Why Things Catch On, states "There is a science behind why people share.  It's not chance, and it's not random.  If you understand the underlying science of human behaviour, you can predict what people are going to pass on, and you can craft your own contagious content--whether its messages, products or ideas--that people are more likely to spread."

Are you contagious?  Need some treatment to turn viral – then get in touch and let’s see where we can take you.  

Worth talking about?  Share it with the #DS.comTribe or let’s talk on Twitter or Instagram @DanzShapiro.