I had a client recently demand that I produce a viral message spontaneously, no branding, they were a complete unknown. I patiently explained that it isn’t generally that simple (there are always exceptions). Viral is kind of like that overnight sensation that actually took 5-20 years to create. You have a much higher chance of going viral if you have built up recognition, a tribe, a following, a fan base, and the like.
#1 Be Consistent and Persistent
While I know it can be a hobgoblin, it is essential to be consistent and persistent in your marketing and branding efforts today. Crafting a clear and focused message that differentiates you from the competition (noise in the marketplace) and states the transformation your product or services provides is a real pillar of marketing success and viral potential. Consistent and persistent is all about having a reliable routine that puts you in front of your target market regularly and with a specific message. You must be outcome based and not feature driven to truly capture your target.
#2 Bring Value
Yes, humor and outrageous does work but it works best when tied to some sort of value. Gary Vaynerchuk of Crush It fame is one such example. He began with his video wine tasting posts and was toiling in virtual obscurity for almost 18 months before it clicked and he began his viral ascent from a $5 million company to $60 million+.
#3 Relate It to Current Headlines and Trending Topics
As I write this the social networks are grappling with the overload of communication from the World Soccer Cup. Regularly the BP Oil Spill is a trending topic. Often there are simple ways you can harness the power of stories that already exist and are getting views by creating content in posts and updates that reference these in a meaningful and relevant way and use the hashtag (the # symbol before the keyworded tag) to ensure you show up.
#4 Leverage Celebrity Cachet
As simply as you can harness trending topics you can also leverage celebrity power by commenting on and taking lessons from celebrities who are hot. When Michael Jackson passed recently, many bloggers picked up on the his fame by creating content around his life, his impact, his fame, and his tragic death. And no you don’t have to capitalize on someone’s demise to make this work! You can celebrate their overcoming something (Sandra Bullock), or point out why they deserve the accolades they get and how that is relevant to your audience.
#5 Use Video
From the infamous Taylor Guitar videos poking fun at United Airlines to the social media animated statistic videos by Erik Qualman, or something more personal, video ranks. That means the search engines, Google, Bing, Yahoo and more love video.
This isn’t about being a pro, it is about being brave enough to just be “good enough.” From the heart tends to be most memorable and most appreciated. So go for it!
Taking action on even one of the strategies here will get you closer to your viral tipping point and with consistent and persistent effort, you’ll surpass your current efforts with viral success. Are you ready for that? I’ve seen it happen all too often when a company gets a viral opportunity, like a mention in Daily Candy (unpaid and only happens by recommendation) and they aren’t prepared and lose the business, tank the momentum, and blow the profit it meant. Be careful what you wish for and remember to always be marketing (not selling, there is a big difference!)