Going viral is every content marketer’s dream. When a piece goes viral, the brand is immediately catapulted into fame and becomes an internet sensation. The readership/viewership can bring huge numbers to a website, and, with that kind of traffic, revenue is not far behind.
What kinds of content go viral? They certainly are not the conventional blog posts that, while important and effective, offer nothing unusual, exciting, or fun. Content that goes viral has to be wildly humorous or even weird to result in the sharing that makes a piece go viral. And once a piece does go viral, it is often picked up by news media, providing even more publicity for the brand.
So how do you create this kind of content? You can learn much of the strategies by studying the content that has gone viral and trying to emulate the tactics that have been used. Let’s take a look at some content strategies that have gone viral and see what you can take away from them.
Pick a Key Feature of Your Product That Sets It Apart
If you have a unique product, focus on that and present it in a way that captures a reading or viewing audience. Of course, you may make it funny or strange, but you can also make it shocking. CamSoda is an adult website, and there are certainly thousands of them to attract visitors and customers. They decided that its challenge was to feature something unique (and a bit shocking) to spread its brand and get a competitive edge. While male registrants can use a normal password, they can also use pictures of their penises – the company calls it Dick-O-Metrics. The thing itself, of course, was not obligatory and even not active, and you still were able to log in with your normal info, but the concept went a bit viral, and the company was even featured on Mashable and Cnet.
Of course, you probably do not have an adult website as your business, but can you find a unique feature to add that will capture attention. Get your team together and see what you can come up with.
Monitor Web Trends and Be Interactive to Gain Backlinks and Social Attention
Trending content is usually temporarily, but its lifetime is usually pretty enough to take advantage of it and spread the word about your product with its help.
Manual interactive features. American cartoon "Rick and Morty" was the sensation of 2017, and itself became a trend. The adult cartoons entertainment website Adult Swim has launched a Flash app Elastic Man, that features Morty Smith, the main protagonist of the cartoon.
The concept is as simple as ABC: if you like Morty, just pull his face. This page earned 27 thousand social shares and impressive 3.7K backlinks, not to mention a huge increase in traffic to the website.
- Quizzes. People love quizzes. That’s why Facebook is full of them. If you can offer a contest of sorts, where followers can “test” their knowledge or expertise, you will generate lots of engagement and even shares. SEMrush created a “test Keyword Kombat" that allowed users to test their skills in determining the most popular keywords. A simple, but creative concept made a great deal of interacting with the regular readers and target audience, which consists of professional marketers and SEOs.
Email Campaigns that touch and interact. No, email marketing is not dead. In fact, if done right, an email campaign can result in a major increase in opens, and, if sharing buttons are placed in those emails, recipients will share great content they receive. It is all in the subject lines and the promise of cool things to follow if those emails are opened. A Halloween-dedicated email campaign, launched by Essay Supply, took advantage of the hype around "Rick and Morty" most popular episode "I'm a Pickle Rick!" and the results went wild.
Screenshot of the letter to the customers
According to the company's data, it was targeted to the regular customers and was based on the received leads, and showed impressive stats: a 69.4% open rate and enormous 42.1% click rate on the pickle button.
Being a Little (or really) Weird is a Good Thing
This strategy will require that you really know and understand your target audience. The same weirdness that is appreciated by a senior citizen will not be equally appreciated by a millennial. Same rules apply for different ethnic and cultural groups. If you have your target audience clearly identified, you can get a bit weird with your marketing, have some fun yourself, and create some very engaging content.
Dollar Shave Club. A little throwback to the case from 2012, which is already five years old, but can be considered classics of video marketing, and is worth mentioning here. Dollar Shave Club, a company that was founded in 2011, is based on a concept: if men could have razor blades delivered directly to their mailboxes, through a subscription service, they would never again face a morning with only dirty old razors to use. Founders Dubin and Levine were young, and their sense of weirdness was evident in the explaining video "Our Blades Are F***ing Great", they created for the landing page of their website and posted on YouTube.
The video, which cost only $2500, gained in general 25M views on YouTube and 98% of positive reactions, almost 50K of social mentions, and highlights at FastCompany, Entrepreneur, Mashable, and Inc.com. Finally, the incredible flow of traffic crashed their site for a while. Within the first 48 hours, there were 12,000 orders. Their weird approach was continued on their social media pages and in their blog, with continued success, and helped them grow their traffic from zero to 550K since 2012.
In 2016, the company was sold for $1 billion (!) to Unilever.
- Wendy's. This case differs a bit from the traditional SEO approach, and, besides the weirdness and uniqueness of the case, it shows the opportunities for social media usage and their integration in the marketing campaign.
As much as marketers are told to be respectful to customers even when they are complaining or hateful, an American fast food chain, and one of McDonald's and Burger King major competitors, Wendy’s has a different take on this advice. The managers of Wendy's Twitter account have developed a quite weird, sometimes aggressive, but still well-balanced and humorous way of interaction with both the competitors and the customers.
This approach and results regularly draw the attention of the masses, and, thanks to its viral style, reportedly gets the highlights at highly trafficked UGC websites, like BuzzFeed and Bored Panda, along with the respective sources, like Business Insider, Fortune, and Fox News. Wendy's traffic? Almost 5 million, and it has increased twice since the beginning of 2017.
With only 5% (which is the share of Twitter traffic), it is 250K, not to mention the constant news here and there about the tweets of Wendy's and successful roasts of the competitors, that hugely increase brand awareness.
So here is your challenge — how can you take these five concepts and examples, get creative with the products and/or services you are marketing, and get a little funny or weird yourself. It is difficult to know just what will go viral, but even if your content is still able to generate a big increase in traffic, you have winning content.