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You can boost your marketing campaign's chances of going viral by examining your target audience and accurately assessing what their values are and what they are passionate about. — Getty Images/JGI/Tom Grill

Successful viral campaigns can rapidly increase the visibility of your business, and they have the potential to exponentially grow a brand. Here’s what you need to know about viral marketing, as well as the six elements of a successful viral marketing campaign.

[Read More: Inside How 3 Startups Generated Exponential Sales Growth on TikTok]

What is viral marketing?

A viral marketing campaign is one that spreads quickly and widely on the internet, relying on the audience to promote the brand over paid advertising. While there is no step-by-step formula to make content go viral, it often involves leveraging existing social media trends and offering content that is attention-grabbing, stimulating, and unexpected. Consumers naturally want to share this type of content, racking up millions of views and shares and making the brand recognizable among the general public.

Here are some pros of going viral:

  • It boosts brand awareness. The increased visibility can quickly establish your brand as a household name, which can lead to media exposure in trade publications and national media outlets.
  • It increases your audience reach. When consumers outside your target audience share your content, it broadens your audience and exposes your brand to the general public.
  • It often has a strong return on investment. Viral marketing costs are a fraction of those of traditional advertising. When consumers are organically sharing your content in a positive fashion, the advertising is nearly free and the potential for increased sales is high.

However, creating viral content presents many challenges as well:

  • Going viral isn’t guaranteed. Sometimes, content your marketing team feels is a home run might fall flat when presented to your audience.
  • It doesn’t always translate to more sales. While going viral certainly provides more brand exposure, there is no guarantee that those viewers will buy your product or service.
  • Your message may not resonate with those outside your target audience. Content that misses the mark might garner a negative reaction online. This effect can be detrimental to businesses and decrease the likelihood of going viral in the future.

[Read More: What Is a Hashtag Challenge? How to Create One for Your Brand]

Use Google Trends to see what's trending online so you can make informed, tailored decisions about your content strategy.

The elements of a viral marketing campaign

Every successful viral marketing campaign uses some combination of the following six tactics and techniques to capture the attention of a broad and varied audience.

Timeliness

It is important to optimize the times you post to ensure the widest possible audience sees your content. It’s also vital to stay current with industry and pop cultural trends to know what your target audience is gravitating toward. You can use Google Trends to see what’s trending online so you can make informed, tailored decisions about your content strategy.

Visual appeal

Viral campaigns need a strong visual component to resonate with audiences. Consumers respond to eye-catching visuals that tell a story and allow them to better understand your brand. Color visuals can increase a consumer’s willingness to read the accompanying text by 80%, increasing the likelihood of an engaged audience and a campaign that goes viral.

Creativity

While there are always exceptions, campaigns are much more likely to go viral when there is an innovative, original idea guiding the marketing campaign. The content has to feel creative and fresh for people to want to organically share it among their networks.

Shareability

Viral content should be easy for consumers to share on social media. The impetus to share could stem from a hashtag, imagery that consumers can easily replicate, or giveaways. The goal is to create buzz about your brand that people will see others interact with and want for themselves.

Emotional resonance

Viral campaigns often elicit a strong reaction, connecting with consumers on an emotional level. Whether it’s joy, surprise, humor, sympathy, or FOMO — the fear of missing out — your content needs to tap into emotion to compel people to share.

Relevance to your target audience

Marketing campaigns should resonate with your target audience so they will feel inclined to share. As you create your content, ask yourself the following questions: What platforms do my target audience use most regularly? What do they feel passionate about? What are their values? Use the answers to guide your content strategy and encourage organic shares.

[Read More: 7 Digital Marketing Trends to Pursue in 2023]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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