Anyone who works in social media wants a viral hit on their hands. But how do you achieve it? Is it something that has to be driven by a community or can viral campaigns be manufactured?
A couple of weeks ago we attended DMA’s “Go viral while you’re young” event, which took a closer look at the industry’s most provocative term and delved into how you could give your campaign the best possible chance of viral success.
We heard from Cancer Research UK and how they were able to harness the power of an exploding trend and ride the #nomakeupselfie wave to social media success. The team behind Cadbury Creme Egg’s social campaigns took a completely different approach in their recent campaign, using “storytelling at scale” to combine creative content with reliable reach. Finally, Nick Entwistle, the man behind One Minute Briefs, talked us through his no BS approach to content creation.
While each approach was notably different, four key components stood out when it came to how brands can reach the promised land of a super-shareable campaign.
1. React quickly
Believe it or not, Cancer Research UK’s most successful campaign to date — an idea that raised £8m in a week — was one that started completely independently. The community management team had noticed the #nomakeupselfie hashtag being used, but it was only when people began asking if Cancer Research UK were behind it that they decided to jump on board. Within one day, website traffic had more than doubled!
By maintaining this momentum throughout the campaign, the team were able to respond to concerns 24/7 and evolve with the trend, encouraging a steady stream of donations in the process.
This all involved reacting quickly to their audience’s wants, needs and concerns, by producing content to mark a specific milestone, sharing celebrity support, answering questions about the campaign and rewarding those who did donate with regular “thank you” messages.
By reacting quickly, Cancer Research UK were able to make the trend their own, and by continuing to do so in the following days, they created a monster viral campaign that was recognised by 78% of under 35s in the UK.
Image via Cancer Research UK “Go Viral while you’re young” slides
2. Keep it simple
For content to be quickly replicated and shared, the barriers to entry need to be as low as possible.
(#)nomakeupselfie is the perfect example; most people have a camera on their phone, can share images online in seconds and can afford to spare £3.
Your audience’s attention is precious and it doesn’t last long, so asking people to spend a significant amount of time or money creating something will cause submissions to plummet. The mechanic needs to be quick, simple and rewarding for the user.
In this case, the content produced was so easy to replicate that it was instantly accessible to a mass audience. The campaign created an emotional incentive by playing to people’s vanity, while allowing them to publicly promote their involvement with the cause.
3. Know your audience
The Creme Egg campaign was far less spontaneous, based on thorough audience research that led to one crucial insight — most people don’t realise that the product is available for a limited period of time each year. From this insight, four strategic content pillars were developed, ensuring that every piece of creative was designed with the audience in mind.
By researching, listening to, understanding and ultimately designing a campaign specifically for the customer, the team were able to reach impressive levels of organic engagement. This was maintained by hosting monthly all-agency meetings to collaboratively review content and revise on-going strategy.
4. Just get it out there!
If there’s one thing we learnt from the enigma that is Nick Entwistle, it’s that without just “doing stuff” you have no chance of going viral at all. Or as he puts it, “the most important work you do, is the work you do, to get people to look at the work you do”.
Nick is the kind of guy who sees some bunting, thinks “that looks kind of like a pair of knickers”, and just like that “bumting” is born. And where would we be without it?
Image via Nick Entwistle. See his presentation here
Nick’s mantra to content generation is, if you have ten ideas, seven might be rubbish (he didn’t use that word), but three of them might just work. Unless you try it, you’ll never know. As mentioned by Cancer Research too, viral campaigns don’t always have to make sense; so, it’s worth asking yourself whether fear is acting as a barrier for your brand’s social content?
Forget going viral. Start understanding your customer.
While it’s impossible to accurately predict what will go viral, understanding, empathising with and listening to your customer has to be your starting point.
At Pancentric, a focus on the customer is absolutely key to everything we do and that’s no different for our social campaigns.
By understanding the customer, we can help brands to build paid strategies that will help ensure their campaigns hit the performance metrics required, while also giving them confidence that their message resonates when a creative opportunity occurs.
While you can’t plan a viral hit, with a clear customer focus established, the hit you’ve been hoping for is much more likely.