Five tips for going viral

Viral Marketing

The Internet is a noisy place, writes Verandah Magazine’s social media expert, Lucy Birchley, who has a few top tips to help you stand out from the crowd…

The fact is that every website and social network is crammed with people trying to tell or sell you something, I’m sure you’ve noticed that.  The constant bombardment can get tiring after a while, making it even harder for us to figure out what, if any, messages we should be paying attention to.

As a digital marketer I spend whole days designing campaigns that ask customers to listen to for a few minutes while I pitch them an idea. I sit through numerous meetings with clients who say things like, “just make it go viral, okay”, as if it is just a matter of waving my magic wand.

Like everything in this world, my work is a system of trial and error. I’m sorry to burst your bubble but there isn’t a sure fire way to grab people’s attention, for every Ice Bucket Challenge or One Dollar Shave video there are literally thousands of campaigns that don’t get millions of views. That said there are some rules you can follow to give your campaign the best chance of success.


Do Your Research

This is possibly the most important step and one that a lot of people easily skip over. Knowledge is power, or in this case; knowledge is a well-executed video of a really cute animal that gets millions of views on YouTube.

Before you can create a viral video or internet meme you need to understand your audience. When researching it’s best to be thorough and specific, collect key indicators, or metrics, to help you build an audience profile.

For example let’s say that your audience is a group of 40-62 year old men who work in blue-collar jobs, have an interest in dog breeding, are not computer literate and shave on Tuesday afternoons.

While these might seem like a random collection of facts the more information you have on your audience the easier it is to tailor your campaign. Now you know that there is no point in running YouTube ads if your blue-collar workers never use a computer.


Make Great Content

Sounds easy right? Well maybe not. The first place to start is to think about what great content looks like to you. Look at what others before you have done, could you apply some of those ideas to your own campaign? Watch videos, read articles and then get down and brainstorm. Whether it is alone or with friends or colleagues write down every crazy idea that pops into your head, talk them over and eliminate the ones that are not going to work for this campaign.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your ideas or execution. In a crowded marketplace it’s important to stand out from the swarm.

Share and Share Alike

Viral campaigns can have vastly differing life cycles, some become popular within a few hours and burn our just as quickly or they can start slowly and last for several years. The key factor that keeps a campaign alive is its ‘shareability.’

When designing a campaign for shareability it is important thing to consider what makes the audience want to share your message with their friends, family or social networks? Think about the last news article, video or piece of content you shared with your network. What drove you to click the share button?

At the root of most sharing decisions is emotion. If the content creates a strong emotion within the audience then they will feel compelled to share it with their networks. Just remember that sharing decisions are not limited to empathy or sadness, happiness and humour are also very effective.

To discover more about how emotions can directly effect sharing watch this great video by You Tuber CPG Grey –

Spend Some Cash

Unless you have friends who are willing to do you a solid and spend hours designing your full page ad or appearing in your three minute video it is probably best to spend some time and money on your project.

Higher production values speak for themselves and audiences give more attention to content that is well presented. That said spending thousands of dollars is not a guarantee of success, sometimes being original, thoughtful or creative can have a bigger impact on your campaign then the amount of money you spent on it.


Timing Is Everything

Any marketing guru you speak to will tell you the same thing. Marketing equals getting the right message to the right person at the right time.

If you want people to talk about your product or idea you need to think about when to share it with the world. How can you generate the most buzz around your idea, are there power users or influencers you can target, or a major event that you can piggyback off?

A wonderful example of this is the Superbowl. As one of the most watched sporting events in the USA advertising during the game costs a small fortune but companies who can afford the cost make sure they advertise at that specific time for two reasons – one they have a captive audience of millions of people and two the hype around the ads which are aired during the Superbowl create a lot of free media meaning that they are able to attract new audiences.

Sure not all of us have millions of dollars, so what should we do? Think about simular events or opportunities that are happening in your industry or local area, can you recreate the Superbowl experience on a much smaller scale?

For example are your blue-collar workers going to be at the same industry event? Could you use the event’s hash tag as a method of spreading your content? Or maybe have a special presentation where you show you’re soon to be viral video?

Sure there are no guarantees about making content go viral, but being original and creative, knowing your audience and timing it can have a huge impact on your campaign.

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