Despite the fact that the term “viral advertising” appeared a long time ago and has become familiar, some still mistakenly perceive “virality” as an analogy to a computer virus, implying the harmfulness and dubious legality of the distribution of such advertising, considering the use of viral advertising a potential threat to the image of the company.
In fact, viral advertising is called when it spreads according to the principle of a biological virus – from carrier to carrier, in geometric progression, automatically, without visible external efforts.
The first well-known example of viral advertising is a case organized in 1865 by an Amsterdam cocoa producer who arranged for a death sentence to cry “Drink Van Gouten’s Cocoa” in exchange for a cash reward for his family. The next day, the whole city knew about this brand of cocoa, which several traditional advertising campaigns had previously failed.
So what needs to be put in advertising in order for it to acquire viral qualities?
Is it necessary to use equally radical reasons? Let’s start with the most important thing.
The fact that advertising will be distributed by itself does not mean at all that it will also automatically bring sales. The most important first step to creating a viral, in fact, like any other advertisement, is to determine what place advertising material will occupy in the overall marketing strategy.
What is the target audience for advertising?
What should be the client’s path after interacting with this ad?
What action and due to what will the client have to take in order to proceed to the next step along the client’s path?
Will advertising be a one-time promotion or an element of an integrated long-term strategy?
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You should not do viral advertising without such preparatory work simply because I wanted to try something new.
Be sure to preliminarily evaluate how much the quality creation of advertising materials will cost, especially if a video format has been selected. Often, the potential virality of advertising is killed by sloppy and unprofessional execution.
Poor quality is unlikely to be shared. Surprisingly, I often met attempts to make poor quality viral advertisements precisely in cases of promoting the services of marketing and advertising agencies.
After that, you can proceed directly to the creation of materials.
Consider the basic techniques that can induce a person not only to remember the advertisement itself but also to share it with others.
The most obvious trick. This is an advertisement, the very unusualness of which is sufficient reason to share it. Despite the obviousness, to realize successful viral advertising only at the expense of originality is an extremely difficult task.
A striking and recent example of the successful application of this technique is the Yota advertisement, in which there was nothing but the message that it was a Yota advertisement. Despite the fact that the idea itself is not new and has already been used before, the factor of the maximum number of advertising channels in which the ads were shown turned out to be new, this ensured virality.
Deliberate violation or dangerous balancing on the verge of rules and social norms to cause a strong emotional reaction. This includes, for example, ambiguous slogans (remember that “suck a penny”?) And direct provocations (“Euroset, Euroset, prices are just about …”).
Sometimes not only rules and regulations are violated, but also legislation. A few years ago, an advertisement for one of the mobile networks that ended with an obscene phrase went on the Internet. This infringing advertisement was distributed only by sending links to videos from person to person, traditional advertising channels would not accept such ads.
Often, companies violate the law intentionally, laying the amount of the fine in the advertising budget, realizing that it will pay off in any case.
In addition, such a fine will be an excellent informational occasion, increasing the virality of advertising by covering the fact of a violation in the media. Using this technique is recommended with caution, as it can spoil the reputation and image of the company.
The most simple, common, and well-working technique. Everyone loves to tell jokes and send funny pictures to friends. Many successful viral ad campaigns are based on jokes and puns.
It is worth recalling that originality, shocking humor is characteristic not only for viral advertising. There is another type of advertising that actively uses these techniques. It’s about the so-called “festival” advertising.
This type of advertising is designed to show the skill and creativity of advertising agencies within the professional environment. Festival advertising is made at the highest level and causes a storm of emotions.
Between viral and festival advertising, they usually put an equal sign, but this is a mistake. They have different goals.
A feature of the majority of festival advertising is that the ordinary consumer remembers the advertisement itself, but almost never remembers what exactly was advertised.
Follow trends and news. It’s much easier to distribute viral content on a topic that is already widely discussed than to pick up a wave “from scratch”.
Recall at least the recent hype about packaging with 9 eggs in the wake of growing dissatisfaction with the spread of so-called downsizing – a decrease in the volume or quantity of goods in the package.
Some companies have sophisticated computer systems that constantly monitor the media and social networks in order to search for emerging trends. By the way, you will significantly increase the chances of success if you bet on a trend or phenomenon specific to your target audience only.
A special case of this technique is the use of sudden informational occasions. Recently, this technique has become increasingly popular because of the ability to get almost instant results.
Some bright incidents and news that cause great resonance are used here as information occasions. The drawback of the reception is that such news is usually at the peak of discussion for only a few days, and in order to “cling” to them, you need to react as quickly as possible, come up with and manage to distribute advertising.
After the advertisement is ready, it needs to be distributed, that is, to do the so-called seeding, initial placement. This should be done where advertising as quickly as possible will be able to see as many representatives of the target audience as possible.
If Central Asia is narrow, then sowing is best done on thematic sites and channels, through well-known and trusted opinion leaders. In the case of a broader target audience, you can simply use the proposed news on social networks or publications on popular Internet portals, the basis of which is user-generated content.
Such portals can be used as a platform for free primary seeding with the hope that further advertising on the desired audience will diverge itself, or it can also be used as the main advertising platform.
For example, large game publishers have long been spending solid budgets on winding likes and promoting the “necessary” entries on sites with funny pictures and videos in anticipation of the release of the next game, because they are sitting on their ideal target audience.
Be sure to get ready technically. If the advertisement “shoots”, the so-called slashdot effect is possible, in which the appearance of a link to a site on a popular resource leads to a jump in site traffic, because of which it may not cope with the load and may be inaccessible.
This is the last thing you want to face at the peak of traffic flow. Attention should be paid not only to the site but also to the phone. The client who heard the busy signal is a lost client.
Collect statistics. In online advertising, use UTM tags where possible and where impossible — alternative methods of tracking the effectiveness of different advertising channels, such as code words.
And the last one. Be prepared for the fact that advertising will not work. I would not recommend making the main bet in marketing precisely on viral advertising due to the fact that the result is not always predictable.
The properly conducted viral campaign can give a powerful and quick effect when introducing a new product or brand to the market. The main thing is not to forget that virality is just a way of advertising distribution. This is not a magic tool.
Creating high-quality viral advertising requires no less, and sometimes significantly more preparatory marketing work.