Viral Content: Luck or Well-Planned Marketing?
In today’s world people are increasingly receptive to earned media. Messages such as product reviews, social media mentions, shares, reposts, and word of mouth, are generated by consumers and therefore not paid for or directly controlled by the brand. A lot of confidence is given to earned media; over 80% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know and make use of online reviews, and two thirds of consumers put their faith in editorial content from newspapers and magazines (https://mediatracks.com/resources/earned-media-vs-paid-media/). Though earned media is something that is not controlled by the brand, it is also something that cannot be ignored because of how effectively it influences consumers, and in the age of social media there is always the potential for a post involving a brand to go viral, spreading across the internet incredibly fast and in a short amount of time. There is no way for a company to control what any one specific consumer out of the billions with a social media account will post at a given time or whether any post will draw the attention required to go viral, so in that sense there is a great deal of luck that goes into going viral. Keeping up with nuanced social media trends is a daunting task and capitalizing on them while maintaining authenticity is even more challenging. There are so many factors at play and in the end, it really comes down to being on the right platform, at the right time, with the right content.
That being said, there are things that can be done to increase the potential of going viral, after all, people don’t engage with content that doesn’t interest them, and there are ways for brands to keep consumers more engaged with their social media posts.
- Creativity is a key component to making sure that consumers are intrigued and stay interested in your content, when scrolling or clicking through the mass of posts on social media, users are only going to engage with what stands out to them, whatever has that “wow!” factor. Tap into the sentiments of your audience and try to evoke some emotion from them, likes and reposts increase the number of eyes on your posts (https://sproutsocial.com/insights/earned-media-strategy/).
- Authenticity also goes a long way when it comes to earned media and going viral. With all the ads that consumers see nowadays, it takes a lot more to get them to actively engage with a brand, so be sure to interact with consumers as much as possible. Respond to their comments, retweet their tweets about you, interact with them and learn from them to create more relevant and relatable content for them, and tell real stories about your brand so that they can better understand you (https://www.inc.com/inc-masters/how-to-go-viral-on-social-media.html).
- Posting your content on all platforms also will help increase the chances something of yours goes viral, that way more users will be able to view and connect with it. Different types of content fit better on different platforms, longer videos are better suited for YouTube, shorter messages work well on Twitter, etc. Making sure that your content is easily shareable is also very important when trying to get a lot of eyes on your content. Tik Tok is a great platform when it comes to sharing content with others (https://www.inc.com/inc-masters/how-to-go-viral-on-social-media.html).
- Building relationships with influencers in your industry is also a great way to try and help your content go viral. Social media is an incredibly useful tool that can allow a company, with enough effort, to establish a relationship with someone who can boost the image of their brand. Influencers can use their large following to get new sets of eyes on your brand and direct them towards your particular product or service, creating a potential for media buzz, and are therefore important people for brands to interact with. Following their accounts, retweeting, and engaging with their posts are the best ways to make this happen, be persistent (https://www.business2community.com/public-relations/going-viral-like-hitting-lottery-luck-skill-01181171).
So, as mentioned earlier, going viral and obtaining all that valuable earned media and chatter about your brand is something that is, at the end of the day, in the hands of the networks of people that interact with each other on various social media platforms. But that doesn’t mean that it is something that should be ignored or that there aren’t any steps you can take to try and gain some level of control. It’s all about creating relevant, engaging, and interesting content that feels genuine so that it generates an emotional response from users. Once you have done that, then they are more likely to interact with your content and share it with others, that process building on itself until thousands, or even millions, of people have seen it.