You’ve either been tasked with designing a marketing strategy for the launch of a new product or you’ve been doing this for a long time and you want to see what else is out there.
First, a little background. What is viral marketing?
We’ll answer that by telling you what it’s not. To do this, we have to go back to December 22, 2008…to relay a message from Seth Godin.
…viral marketing is getting a bad name, largely from clueless marketing agencies and clueless marketers. Here’s what they do: they get a lame product or a semi-lame product, and they don’t have enough time or money to run a nationwide ad campaign. So, instead, they slap some goofy viral thing on top of it and wait for it to spread.
Well, it won’t. And if it does, it may not work the next time.
Understanding Viral Marketing
It’s got nothing to do with being a content strategy expert. Even has less to do with beginners luck.
The simple idea behind viral marketing is to get people to spread your message for you. We are talking content that spreads like wildfire over the internet.
Remember the #shareacoke campaign?
It was lit! Coca Cola basically replaced their logo with as many popular Nigerian names as they could. They gave ownership to people! The first thing you look for when you walked into the shopping mall is a coke bottle with your name on it.
And of course, bragging on social media followed. Everyone was helping everyone else they knew to find their names. Everyone wanted everyone to know they had found their names. Even those who didn’t much care for the beverage bought theirs and kept in the home for display.
The Critical Element of Viral Marketing
It’s super simple.
Virality has to be built in the product. It was built into Hotmail and YouTube and the Coke bottles. The more people saw their names on bottles, the more the idea spread.
Build the viral into your product. That way you are marketing a product that spreads because you designed it that way.
We should also clarify, viral is NOT viral marketing.
For instance, if 50,000,000 people saw your explainers video and shared it. That’s great! That’s viral. But did it market you or your business in a tangible way?
We’ve seen clips of children after a dental visit go viral, we’ve seen mischievous dogs and grumpy cats. We’ve also seen Rihanna’s big bold and beautiful lingerie line.
So which one of this could be considered viral marketing? Rihanna’s lingerie line!
Why? Because each Rihanna’s video or graphic wants to tell you one thing: “buy my lingerie” The memes and videos have to lead to something tangible.
So there are two sets of questions you need to answer:
- Why should my users share this? What do they gain?
- What do I gain? How does this help my business?
Get your answers? Now let’s look at the tactics
Activate people’s competitive impulse
Robinhood is a stock trading tool and here’s how they launched with a bang!
They had people sign up to their waiting list and get their friends to sign up as well. The more people sign up through you, the higher up you are on the waiting list. With this tactic, they had over 350,000 people on their waiting list before launch!
They make it even more interesting by telling you exactly how many people are ahead of you on the waiting list.
We’ll provide you with more stats on how the gamification tactic helped brands meet their goals.
- After using points and badges to gamify their website, Verizon Wireless boosted browsing time by 30% among half their users.
- Gamification helped Volkswagen China’s crowdsourcing project go viral. As a result, they garnered over 33 million hits and nearly 120,000 ideas submitted.
- Ford Motors increased sales by more than $8 million and boosted Facebook likes by 600% with gamified content.
If you want to exceed your viral marketing goal…gamify it.
Use influencers strategically
A smart idea would be to get an influencer to publicly request access to your product or speak about your product…it is important that this goads your target market into doing something.
See tweet below
Pamilerin a Twitter influencer, tweets about saving N10,000 on Piggybank now Piggyvest daily. This sparked a conversation…people naturally do not want to believe this. The conversation is great, a trending hashtag where people are engaging? Even better.
And then, of course, the influencer follows with proof that he does indeed save using this platform. With an image inviting his followers to join the Piggybank.ng community
This may or may not be intentional, however, 24 hours after the influence makes his tweet, Piggybank was a trending topic in Nigeria.
Another idea you can try especially if your product is invitation only is to give an access code to a major influencer in your space. They would publish that code and specify that it’s open for a limited timeframe.
Want to try this? We can tell you, Influencers work.
Team up with unlikely partners
With this, you are going for the shock factor. Working with people outside your industry creates a buzz for both companies and gets them noticed by people who ordinarily wouldn’t bother.
For example, the TV show The Walking Dead wanted to create an online course on what a zombie apocalypse would be like.
Ordinarily, they could have marketed this to their followers alone. However, they teamed up with UC Irvine, which is a public research university located in California to create an open online course!
It was phenomenal. This was built to be shared over and over again!
There are many ways to generate buzz around your new product; a rule of thumb is to test different approaches to see what works for you.
You can also combine the tactics discussed above and put your own spin on them.
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