When social media becomes contagious - how to plan a viral campaign

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Reach as many people as possible with your online marketing, that is quite naturally your goal. And on social media like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you actually already have the best tools at hand for this. Nevertheless, it is of course not quite so easy to turn your campaign into a viral campaign to make; that is, a campaign that invites to share, which carries away and which is simply contagious. If any company could ensure that their content would go viral, they would. But viral campaigns require more than just technical perfection and massive reach, even if those two points help, of course.

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The foundation of viral campaigns

First of all, of course, it helps if your viral message is optimally packaged in terms of media is. So do not save on the Production budgetWhether photos or videos, technical perfection and artistic finesse are not cheap. Especially the latter is essential for viral marketing, after all, content is not shared virally because it is technically perfect, but because it is appeal to something in the audience. This can only work if the viral video is not only beautiful, but special.

It has to appeal to something unconscious in the audience, it has to be more art than craft.

Examples from the past - you can learn from these viral campaigns

How a social media campaign goes viral is difficult to plan. This is just as true in marketing as it is in pop music. Whether it's men's fragrance Old Spice, YouTuber Rezo or Psy (the singer of "Gangnam Style"), even well-known brands and artists themselves can't replicate their successes on an assembly line. So even the best possible video for your business doesn't automatically have to be a successful viral campaign. Often, it's more a matter of, meet the spirit of the times respectively To be half a step ahead of the zeitgeist.

However, viral success in social marketing is not completely unplannable. Because, if you look at past successes, you can at least narrow down why certain marketing campaigns became viral successes.

Viral Christmas Success

Let's take as an example a Christmas video from EDEKA from the year 2015. The Video was titled #HeimKommen and brought a family together because of the grandfather's death. Only it turned out that the grandfather had not died at all, but just wanted to bring his family together for Christmas.

The video was professionally produced (which is to be expected from a giant like EDEKA), but not in the highly polished style of an advertisement. But rather on the level of a motion picture. The spot speaks on the image and sound level, in the colors and the narration. our emotions as spectators on. At the same time, it ends with a happy ending and a charmingly funny twist that turns tears into big grins. The actual advertising message appears only minimally in the spotThe company's own brand is deliberately kept in the background.

From the modern treatment in a few-minute format that was more short film than commercial, to the classic catharsis of theater - that is, the purification of the audience - the commercial was a masterpiece of viral marketing. This created an expectation for EDEKA that subsequent films could hardly fulfill and, for example, ensured that LIDL even parodied the subgenre of the EDEKA Christmas commercial.

3 viral success factors

So, if we can attribute the success of this video to three basic requirements to break it down, then it would be Professionalism, emotion and humor. All this inspires users to Share content and interact with the content. After all, we humans are social creatures and enjoy sharing emotions and positive experiences.

In the parody by LIDL, we can see another trend of digital marketing that American companies like Pringles, Netflix or Burger King already exemplify on Twitter: they sell the company as people with their own problems and a smart mouth.

The illusion of the perfect company is broken and a artistic authenticity created. This in turn invites people to communicate with the company. A good German example of this can be found in the viral posts of the Berlin public transport BVG ("Because we love you" on social media).

Start a viral campaign from the back - use viral effects from the user side

In the above examples, you are still thinking from your company's channel and controlling the social networks centrally. This corresponds to the classic dispositive of marketing that has applied for centuries: Your message is centralized on one medium and from there finds readers, listeners or viewers. This may be the littfass column, the newspaper or the TV spot, but the arrangement remains the same despite the medium.

Now puts Social media But you have a completely different option. Namely, you can replace the central "transmitter" with a decentralized "Broadcast Landscape" and thus generate viral messages.

This can be achieved for example by Hashtags Initiate. Use your reach to make using a campaign-related hashtag palatable to your followers. Offer extras like prizes or just the chance to be featured in your stories. This way, each of your followers becomes a potential advertiser.

A few years ago, Coca-Cola pulled off a special coup by simply printing names on the bottles. The feedbeck in the social networks was enormous, because People posted the Coke bottles with their name on it without distressThe beverage company had bought itself a viral campaign without having to share the message itself on social networks. Each post was personalized, which of course best described the character of the campaign: Each bottle is an experience, each experience is personal.

Find the perfect time for your viral campaign

However, when planning viral content, not only is Content King, but also the right timing. If you want your campaign to scale appropriately, don't let it stagnate. Just the first hours are absolutely critical and you must do everything to create an initial pull effect.

Users are allowed to share your content not only consume passively, but must be aware of active engagement can and, above all, want to make their mark in social media. This often requires a clear call-to-actionif the campaign is specifically designed for sharing.

Commitment must be partially demanded from users.

Also, you, your company or your advertising character must be be ready for interactions. If users have the feeling that communication with your brand is a one-way street, even well-done viral messages will fall flat. Instead, set aside some of your budget and time for responses. Reply to your fans, include them in posts, stories or dedicated posts and show that interaction with you is worthwhile.

It also takes luck, but....

All too often, you'll hear productions and media companies say that they also produce viral campaigns on social media. That's a lofty goal, of course, but even with the largest advertising agencies in the country, a real viral success not plan with one hundred percent probability. Simply spending advertising budget until success is there, that does not work here. So you can Positively influence content, quality and storyline, but whether your message also The ravages of time and the nerve of followers and social media users depends on many small and often unplannable factors.

It takes luck above all, but you can at least force it a little. So focus on the things you can influence and do your best to create engagement. Pay attention to what your users want and also tell you what you should want, be bold, be honest and be approachable.

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