Skip the Antibiotics, Go Viral
We’re witnessing the rise of a new kind of celebrity, a kind our culture has never seen before: The Viral Message.
Since the advent of social media, it’s easier than ever to promote ourselves and our content. This is most evident in YouTube, where average, everyday people with a video camera can be thrust into the spotlight. The videos begin to appear everywhere; posted on Facebook and Twitter, many even make it to that ancient relic, the television.
What does it mean to go viral? For the purpose of this paragraph, we’ll use YouTube videos as an example, though other types of content we’ll discuss later can also go viral. Let’s say a video gets 50,000 hits on YouTube. 20% of those viewers post it to Facebook. Once on Facebook, friends of these viewers like, comment on, and share the video, each of these actions creating stories that show up in their friends’ newsfeed. From there, the network of friends of the original viewers like, comment, and share, and on and on. The video is passed to more and more people, much like a virus.
So what does this mean for marketing, and how can you go viral with your strategy? Viral content is all about reach and exposure, but it’s also about taking advantage of the resources and networks of your potential customers. The idea behind viral marketing is to inspire people to spread your message for you to their own networks. The more people you reach, the more potential you have to convert them into customers.
How to go viral is a much more complicated question with no definite answer. With YouTube in particular, viral videos are usually accidents. The most successful are the ones that show people in very authentic moments. With social media, the key is to always be yourself, and don’t try to over-sell or over-promote your product or company. Your customer will see right through that gimmick.
If your goal is to make a viral video or campaign, you will most likely fail. However, you can still expand your reach by using the following techniques:
Expanding your reach on Twitter is all about the re-tweet. That’s when someone broadcasts one of your tweets, so it’s not only seen by your followers, but their followers too. Now, imagine one of the followers of your re-tweeter re-tweets the same thing, then two of their followers re-tweet. That’s the idea.With Twitter, you only have 140 characters to get your point across. Which means that if you want someone to retweet you, you need your tweet to be much less than that. The key is to link to web content and/or create a hashtag (using the # sign to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet, which is used as a link—more info can be found here: http://support.twitter.com/articles/49309-what-are-hashtags-symbols#).The most effective way to get re-tweets is to ask for them. Don’t be shy to ask! Simply add ”Please Retweet” at the end of your message. Reports have shown that a tweet is more likely to get re-tweeted if it includes the words “RT” or “re-tweet.” Make sure to say please, and thank those that do re-tweet you.
Every time someone comments on or likes your Facebook post, it will show up in real time on their friends’ mini-feed on the left hand side of their screen. Sometimes, it will generate a story on their friends’ main newsfeed. Business page admins are able to see what percentage of the reach for a specific post is organic (those that already like your page) and what percentage is viral (friends of people who like your page).How do you maximize engagement on Facebook to increase reach? Post content that incites engagement. Ask questions, use images, talk about current events. Get people talking and they’ll get their friends talking (and their friends, and their friends, and so on).
This is the site that most often launches everyday people into the celebrity stratosphere. Odds of reaching that height, however, are not in your favor. Out of the millions upon millions of videos on YouTube only a dozen or so go viral every year. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t reach more of your target market through your YouTube account. And you never know, your video may end up posted to countless Facebook walls and Twitter feeds and you’ll find yourself on one of the many television shows dedicated to sharing Internet videos.So what’s the secret? Don’t try to go viral. Don’t try at all. Produce the very best content you can. Integrate videos with other social media platforms and your website to ensure more hits.
Understanding these viral phenomenons are essential to anyone wishing to market their business. Though you may not end up on television with your own reality show, you can expand your reach exponentially. And in doing so, increase the potential of developing more leads and more paying customers.