With all due respect to the author, this article on How To Make Content go Viral answers the question with one example of a large company that does a good job using viral marketing in a fairly common way. Linkedin was able to raise awareness by sending out information to current users about their ranking on the network. In truth this is a “feel good tactic” that most social networks use from time to time.
The second example (couldn’t you think of anything else?) simply tells of a news worthy event (by definition information that should go viral) the landing of the Mars Rover and how Mars candy was caught off guard by the sudden interest in Mars candy. Umm…that happens all the time, when a news event brings to mind a brand, searches for the brand go up.
What most brands really want to know is how to create content that spontaneously goes viral with little to no investment on their part. Cheap Marketing. A Low Cost Publicity Stunt. Something For Nothing.
But…usually, sorry to say: You Get What You Pay For.
We all have heard stories of the surprise hits – from low budget movies that become blockbusters to bloggers who get book deals to Twitter accounts that end up on screen. Those are the outliers and as is usual, as little exploration of the backstory usually reveals lots of hard work, some seriously good connections and a little bit of luck.
The real story of how things go viral in the second decade of the 21st century is truly a story of calculated planning, good PR strategy and judicious use of budget. The spaghetti approach to churning out fun and whimsical content and waiting for someone to notice has its drawbacks –most importantly – the other 3.66 billion other web pages out there, each with multiple pieces of their own content! Kinda tough to get noticed.
The better approach for most brands is to create a mini wave in your own pond. It’s not free, but it’s more likely to get noticed by exactly the consumers you want to see it. Creating good, solid and fun content is the first step, of course. But from there it’s all money and expertise. Reaching out to a limited number of brand advocates with strong social connections in an exciting and personal way and compensating them for their efforts can drive the exact traffic you want to your content and ultimately to your brand.
And that’s really what you want anyway, right?