What You Can Learn from Massive Viral Campaigns to Engage Your Online Following

Every content marketer dreams of coming up with the next Old Spice Man campaign: 236 million YouTube views, 80,000 Twitter followers in two days and an increase of 107% in Old Spice sales after 30 days.

A campaign of that scale comes along so rarely – maybe just once in a marketing career if you’re lucky. A lot of things have to be in your favour to create an outstanding campaign that garners that much engagement online and creates such a scalable ROI.

Most of us will never possibly achieve those numbers with our work, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Here are some lessons from successful campaigns that can be applied to your current projects to help take them to the next level:

Actually engage people

So much of people’s lives happen online – we’re constantly “connected” while not being connected at all. Human beings want to, and need to, feel as though they are a part of something bigger and greater than themselves. Generally, they then use social media in order show who they are and express their personality.

The most poignant example of this was the San Francisco Batkid Make-a-Wish day. Miles, a boy recovering from leukaemia, had one wish: to be Batman. The Make-a-Wish foundation, a charity that grants wishes to children with illnesses, started looking for people who were interested in participating in making Miles’s wish come true.

Batkid Make-a-Wish

The San Francisco mayor and police force participated, people volunteered to play hostages and bad guys, all gathering together to turn the city into Gotham and set the scene for Batkid saving the day. Miles even received a video message from President Obama and a tweet from the White House.

This wasn’t just an online viral sensation – it became an international news headline, showing that when people get together for a good cause, they really can make waves across the world.

Use other people’s social networks

In the viral marketing world, it is said that for every person that shares your content the likelihood of it going viral increases exponentially.

Retailer Wet Seal hired 16 year-old Meghan Hughes to man their Snapchat profile for a weekend. She has almost half a million followers on Twitter, YouTube and Instagram accounts. She spent the weekend creating a Snapchat story documenting her two days as a Wet Seal ambassador.

Wet Seal hires Meghan Huges

With Meghan’s help, Wet Seal gained 9,000 new Snapchat followers and 6,000 views of the story – which was significant because the brand only started with 2,000.

Another example of this was Oreo’s efforts to increase followers of their Facebook fan page, so they partnered with Guinness World Records in order to engage fans in a fun way. They decided to set the Guinness World Record for the most Likes on a Facebook post in 24 hours. Five hours in, rapper Lil Wayne challenged his fans to beat Oreo – generating over 47 million media impressions. The record was set at 114,619 Facebook likes in 24 hours.

Oreo Guinness World Record

Be everywhere

Pinterest. Vine. Heck – even Snapchat is worth a look. Don’t jump on the bandwagon when it’s already too late – drive the bandwagon. Not only will you get the press from being an early adopter but you have few competitors in the space so people will come to you if you’re doing something interesting.

Taco Bell was doing ground-breaking work on Snapchat in 2013, utilising Snapchat stories and incorporating it with their other social media accounts. It all started here:

Taco Bell Snapchat campaign

“We’re on @Snapchat.” Easy as that. You can see from their Twitter wallpaper as well that they are making use of the Snapchat stories and incorporating it on other profiles to further define their brand. They’ve used Vine to make a ten-second video to announce a new taco. Different people use variety of social media and you can target each of your markets using a range of methods.

Take a stand

Content that elicit strong emotional responses have the highest likelihood of virality. You should always be creating content that people care about but the ultimate goal is for people to have an emotional response to what you produce. Any emotion is good, but some of the most viral emotions are anger, fear, joy, or awe.

Your content should create a visceral desire to share that content. It can also evoke a response based on people identifying with it, which is where taking a stand on a controversial issue comes in.

Oreo LGBT campaign

Taking a stand can have a range of effects. Though it may alienate a large part of your demographic or audience, taking a stand on a divisive issue is one of the most authentic actions a brand can take. People have respect for that and they usually want to jump on the bandwagon.

People always cite this photo by Oreo – sure, there were thousands of people who said they would never eat an Oreo again, but there were legions of new Facebook followers who joined to congratulate them on “coming out” in support of the LGBT community.

About the Author: JonJon Yeung is a digital marketer and is a fanatic about digital marketing, exploring certain subjects in depth and preaching the importance of quality content. He regularly updates himself with the current search trends.