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VOL. 133 | NO. 176 | Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Guerrilla Sales & Marketing

Think Viral Marketing is Out of Your League?

Tricia Warren

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Producing a campaign that catches fire on social media and the internet is the ultimate dream of many hopeful brands. Think viral content marketing is out of your league? Think again. Any company can create potentially viral content on a shoestring budget.

While there is never a guarantee your campaign will take the internet by storm, there are some common threads among viral content you can use to increase your chances for success.

First, clearly define your audience and goal. What about your product or service is most compelling, and how can you best communicate the message? This could be a contest, an ad, a video or all of the above. Once you’ve made these decisions, you’re ready to move forward.

Appeal to emotions. People share content that excites them. Most people think humor drives sharing, but it’s a hard response to nail. A Harvard study on viral marketing recommends trying to evoke multiple positive reposes, like warmth and happiness, to make content resonate. The more intense your audience’s reaction, the more likely they are to share.

Appealing to an audience’s sense of purpose with a powerful idea is how one man started a viral campaign that swept the nation. Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? It began as a grassroots movement established by a man battling ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Within a few weeks of launching, the cause campaign raised millions of dollars and immeasurable awareness for the disease. In this case, compassion and purpose met amusement and surprise to compel audiences to share.

No matter what type of content you create, make the “ask” easy. Think of Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign. It works because it’s a simple concept that resonates on a warm and personal level. The idea is to find the name of a friend or family member on a Coke can and buy it for that person.

Of course, great content is only half the battle. Your campaign requires fuel to become an internet wildfire. Share your content on all your social platforms. Encourage your audience to share your content across their networks by simply asking them or by including an incentive, like an entry into a drawing for a prize if they comment or share. Multiplication is, of course, key in reaching viral status.

Creating authentic, original and shareable content is a process. Don’t despair if your first attempts don’t win a viral trophy. Start small and think big. Try a contest on Facebook, and see how many shares you can generate. Check out trending topics on sites like BuzzFeed to see what types of content are gaining the most attention. With the right strategy and a little luck, your content could be the next internet sensation.

Tricia Warren is a marketing strategist at RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy and can be reached at redrovercompany.com.

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