How Every Business Can Create a “Viral” Marketing Campaign
Aug 13, 2012 4:00 AM - Posted by Brad Smith
The best social marketing makes other people find you.
So being active on Twitter won’t help.
Investing in “marketing assets” is a better strategy.
Because you’ll invest in something once and get paid back over time with traffic, social media followers, links for SEO, and potential customers.
Instead of wasting time doing the easy stuff, like tweeting to an empty room, that doesn’t get you any traffic or customers…
Try this instead.
Plan Your Attack
This is the first part of the viral marketing campaign series.
And it will set you down the path of creating your own campaign, from start to finish, in only 3 weeks.
- Part One: Create Something “Shareable” (this article)
- Part Two: Organize your foundation
- Part Three: Promoting your campaign
Now I can already hear the next question coming…
“What if it takes me longer than one week for a section?”
Don’t let it! Strip your elaborate idea down to the core so you can get it out the door as soon as possible.
You have to test and experiment to find tactics that work. And this is just another one. So keep it as simple as possible. Don’t let others get involved and slow you down.
Give Your Campaign an “Anchor”
Before doing anything, you need to start with a goal.
The goal you pick will act as an anchor that brings order from chaos. And it will simplify your decision making when you need to choose between conflicting options.
The goal of any viral marketing campaign is easy – you want to drive awareness. So if you want to reach the most people possible, then it needs to be free and easy to share.
Here are a few example metrics you can use to gauge success:
- Links (for SEO)
- Shares (for social media)
- Visits & Pageviews (for traffic)
You get the idea. The important point is to identify – before you even start – the goal you’re trying to achieve and then what metrics will tell you if you’ve reached your goal.
There’s another problem we need to address before you begin.
Most people will not want to share your commercial site, commercial message, commercial content, or commercial tool.
Nothing kills social media activity faster than a sales pitch. [Click to Tweet]
But you have to sell at some point! That is your job after all.
So what’s the solution?
The Essential Components of “Shareable” Content
You need to create “shareable” content to promote.
This content must have an interesting hook that grabs people’s attention and keeps them interested. It acts as the “bait”. Then once you have their attention, you can introduce related offers or “sales” content.
Here are some of the qualities your “shareable” content will need:
- Insanely Useful / Utility: If it doesn’t provide some use or immense benefit then it probably won’t be interesting enough.
- Alleviate Pain Points: Typically, the most useful things solve your customers pain points.
- “Evergreen” or Timeless: Don’t waste time chasing new stories or limited content. This should still be relevant for years to come.
- Branded: Branding your offering will make it unique, stand out from the others, and improve how people remember it.
- Promotable: How easy will it be to promote this idea? Make sure it’s easy-to-understand, valuable and appealing to the right audience.
- Frictionless Sharing: Make this extremely easy-to-share by removing every possible step or barrier for people.
- Mass Appeal: Finally, you need to broaden your target market and create something that will appeal to a mass audience. These people might not even be your direct customers. But you need to identify the right people who will share you stuff.
The One Thing that Will Have the Biggest Impact on Success
What is your offer or “shareable content” going to look like?
If the idea is good enough, then it can probably take several different forms. But it you choose the wrong format, then it won’t have the desired impact.
Ask how your audience wants to consume this content. And pick a form that supports your idea the best.
For example, infographics usually require a lot of research and data. So if you don’t have either, then an infographic probably isn’t the best format choice.
Here are a few other examples you can choose from:
- Special report or guide
- “Viral” article
- Email series
Here are some good examples that are more elaborate:
Don’t stress about the quality at this stage. Just start with something simple, see if people like it, and then invest more if it takes off.
How to Get Started with Your First Campaign
You might already have several ideas. Or you might be stuck because you’re not sure where to start.
Here’s how you should pick the winning idea to move forward with.
Write all of your ideas down on a piece of paper on spreadsheet. Now give them a grade, using a simple 1 – 5 point system, in the following areas:
- Cost to Invest (Time, Money, Energy)
- Difficulty / Time to Finish
- Usefulness / Appealing
- Promotability / Ease of Sharing
Ideally, one of your ideas will be all of these things (relatively inexpensive, not too difficult to finish, extremely useful and easy to share).
Start planning and brainstorming the “marketing asset” you’re going to create over the next week. Make sure it will appeal to a wide audience and will be a “timeless” addition to your site.
Soon we’ll discuss how to promote your new offer and gain widespread distribution.
But before we get there, you’ll need to learn how to organize and structure an offer so that you’ll receive the best bang for your buck.
You can’t just put it on your site and hope for the best.
The best campaigns are engineered to succeed from the beginning.