7 Steps to Create a Viral Marketing Campaign

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Creating a marketing campaign that “goes viral” is the goal of every marketer.

What is the secret to creating a campaign that is going to “go viral?”

The answer is complicated.

In fact, it’s almost impossible to predict what campaigns will go viral, and which ones will flounder. That said, there are some steps you can take to increase your chances of having your campaign go viral.

If you are striving to build a viral marketing campaign, here’s how you can give your campaign the best shot.

1.) Make It Visual

The things that go viral are the things that are visually appealing, in almost all instances. Adding video or images to your campaign is one of the first things you need to do to build a viral marketing campaign.

Even if the majority of your message is text-based, find a compelling image or create a compelling video to go along with it.

When choosing your visual, first make sure it matches your brand. Never make a video or include an image that compromises your brand in any way.

However, you also need to make sure that the visuals are viral-worthy. Make them humorous, informative or surprising. The more surprising, the more of a chance the item has of being shared.

2.) Plan the Message

While some viral campaigns are accidental, most are carefully planned.

You can’t plan enough to promise that your material will go viral, but you do need to plan to ensure that your message is clear. Make a careful script for your video or a careful plan for your infographic so that your ultimate message is clearly received by your audience.

Then, if the campaign does go viral like you are hoping, you will be able to share your message with more and more people.

3.) Work the Emotions

Viral campaigns are the ones that tug on people’s emotions. Often they are humorous, but they can also be sentimental. As you plan the campaign, make sure there is an emotional catch.

That’s not to say that informative posts or videos can’t go viral, but unfortunately, information alone is often not enough. You need to grab the person with something emotional. Play on their fears, hopes, dreams or sense of humor, and your campaign will be far more likely to go viral.

4.) Know Your Audience

As you consider the emotional triggers to tap, make sure you know the triggers that affect your audience.

What is it they want from you?

Are they hoping for some super secret information?

Are they looking to be entertained?

Are they wanting to appear informed and clever?

If you can identify these triggers and work them into your content, it will be far more effective.

Remember, your audience is not the same as another audience. A campaign with celebrities going without makeup and taking selfies may work well for a beauty care company, but it’s not going to reach executive level bankers. You must know your audience and its triggers for success.

5.) Keep the Campaign Simple

Your campaign cannot be complicated. If you are sending a novel to your target audience, they aren’t going to pass it on.

A short video, a simple infographic or a concise article are the most likely targets for something that goes viral. Stick to two or three main marketing messages, and nothing more, in your campaign.

Once you have grown your audience through your viral marketing campaign, you can give them additional information when they come to you directly.

6.) Launch the Campaign

Planning your viral marketing campaign is just the first step. Once it’s planned, you have to launch it properly to see it go viral.

To launch your viral marketing campaign, start by knowing your audience.

When are they most likely to be online, visiting social media sites?

This is the best time to launch your campaign. Spread it throughout your social marketing sites, and encourage your followers to share. If the video, article or image sparks something in your audience, you will be able to sit back and watch as it goes viral.

7.) Don’t Try to Force It

Don’t hit your audience too hard with your new campaign, though. If it’s going to go viral, it will. If it’s not, no amount of blasting is going to make it happen. Launch your campaign at a strategic time, remind your audience about it casually, and then see what happens.

Remember, the goal of a viral marketing campaign is two-fold. First, it is to increase exposure for your brand.

Second, it is to improve your relationship with your existing audience by giving them something of value. If you can keep these two goals in mind, you can create a successful campaign that has a strong likelihood of going viral.

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Personal Branding Blog The Personal Branding Blog is part of the Small Business Trends Publisher Channel, offering branding and career advice from Dan Schawbel and his team of experts. The blog helps professionals build a powerful brand to remain competitive in the job market.

13 Reactions
  1. Remember #7 during the initial planning as well. You can do everything “right” and not have it go viral. You should be have enough benefit from the campaign without it going viral to justify the effort. Then when it goes viral it’s all gravy.

  2. I want one.


    I’ll hit it one day. In the meantime, I’ll just keep showing up.

    Virally yours,

    The Franchise King®

    P.S. Great article.

  3. Most likely I agree in 6 out of 7 steps you’ve posted. I know they are all correct espcially in the point that you have to make it visual and know your audience.. It is also right that you have to make it clear to the audience so they won’t be confuse of what do you mean.

  4. It’s funny but I have been email marketing for many years now with reasonable success but sometimes you need to return to the basics to realise that what you have actually built into your campaigns is a whole series of silly mistakes. Nice article that has definitely helped to refocus my mind.

  5. I think this is a great article!! Simple yet on point.

    I would like to add that a well structured publication plan is one of the most important points to also remember.
    If your relevant information is published and structured correctly then you will also benefit from REAL natural SEO results on Google for your main landing page as optimised.

  6. That was a really good read about viral marketing. The tips and techniques listed are very true and i was able to learn about viral marketing through a course provided by  http://www.iiedm.com/ which made me become well versed with viral marketing. The information shared by you will really inspire many more to take a step towards affiliate marketing. Well done!