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Gone Viral Lately?

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I HAD A client the other day ask, “How can we get this campaign to go viral?”

At the end of the day, virality is a blessing (and a curse) for all social media marketers. We prefer not to think in those broad terms but understand it comes with the territory. After some reflection, here are three steps to creating viral content:

  1. Define your goal and target audience. It sounds like common sense, but what are you trying to accomplish? What emotion do you want to evoke?
  2. Create content that will resonate. Find out what your target audience is passionate about and cater your content accordingly. Why will people share your content?
  3. Have a distribution plan. Think trickle-down effect. Chances are, you alone don’t have the volume of followers to go viral. Influencers are always a good starting point.

Historically, content that goes viral seems spontaneous and off-the-cuff. In reality though, it’s oftentimes the exact opposite. Viral content is the byproduct of careful and meticulous planning. In fact, you might not realize that some of the most watched internet videos were staged.

“Charlie Bit My Finger?” Yup, the video was staged by the boys’ mom.

“Worst Twerk Fail EVER – Girl Catches Fire!” You guessed it. The wildly popular “Twerk Fail” video — which features a dancing girl on fire — was quite literally a hoax orchestrated by Jimmy Kimmel.

“Girl Learns to Dance in a Year” Creator Karen X. Cheng did a ton of marketing before the video even debuted, and it worked. The video eventually led to a startup company called GiveIt100.

We’re all in search of the next great breakthrough, but your viewers will ultimately decide the reach of your campaign. After all, if they like it, they’ll share it.

Chris Herting is a Digital and Social Media Specialist at Gallinghouse Marketing + Creative. He has experience delivering innovative digital solutions for hundreds of brands, including the NFL’s Washington Redskins.



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