In general, there’s isn’t a specific number of shares, retweets, likes or re-blogs that puts content in “viral” status. However, it needs to appeal to the masses and be shareable (Moreau, 2018). In addition, there isn’t an exact formula or blueprint to follow that makes social media campaigns go viral and a lot of success in viral marketing comes down to pure luck and chance. However, being aware of the sensitive matter of an issue and utilizing creativity can provide companies with the ability to reach new heights in their viral marketing attempts (Ivanov, 2018).
Although it’s hard to specifically know what will make a social media campaign go viral, it is important to at least incorporate one of the following five characteristics:
1.Keeping Content fresh – Fresh and interactive content is an extremely important characteristic for a social media campaign to stay relevant. Keeping content fresh, opposed to reusing or recycling it, can help to attract new social followers and keeps the audience wanting more.
2.Call to Action – Having a clearly defined call to action helps provoke an audience to share the content provided. For example, posts that instructs end users to “share if they agree” entices them to be a part of the conversation and allows them to include their friends and social circle in it as well.
3.Comical – Comedy typically plays a prominent role in making online content go viral, since end users are more likely to share if it makes them laugh out loud.
4.Story telling – People usually like to hear a good story, especially when they are true. So, a short story can have a big impact on a social media campaign going viral if it’s compelling, touching and/or if has quality to it. This ultimately gives an audience an opportunity to relate to the story when reading it, which should help prompt them to share the content.
5.Evoke emotion – Content with emotion is another great characteristic that can help a campaign go viral. Campaigns that evoke emotion often leave a lasting impression by making people think and want to discuss what they saw (Lonen, 2016).
A good example of a social media marketing campaign that went viral is the Heineken Worlds Apart ad campaign. Normally political, social and religious topics are sensitive and many advertisers wisely shy away from them. However, Heineken directly took these issues on with the launch of their Worlds Apart campaign that featured teams of two people with opposing viewpoints that were tasked with completing simple activities while discussing an issue in which they strongly disagreed.
Viral campaigns often make people think and want to discuss what they saw and that is exactly what Heineken’s campaign achieved. Heineken campaign created content that left a lasting impression and lot people talking about. This campaign helped to show that people with opposing can find common ground, even if it was in the form of a Heineken beer, but also provided a refreshing perspective on the social rhetoric people normally see on the Internet and TV (7 Best Viral Campaigns of 2017, 2018).
Widgets, plugs-ins and Badges
Social plugins are another tool companies can use to help content go viral as they have the ability to connect their website to various social media platforms. In general, all of the most popular social networking sites and applications like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest provide special code snippet plugins that give end users the ability to share online content across different platforms (Social Media, 2017).
Shareaholic is an example of a content amplification plugin that helps companies grow website traffic, engagement and conversations by highlighting relevant content. Shareaholic displays content recommendations at the end of every social post and includes beneficial affiliate linking. In addition, this tool also has a share buttons for images, a floating share button and follow buttons as well (Hainla, 2017). Overall, there’s a strong correlation between social signal plugins and the success of how a website is ranked in a search engine, since generating new traffic through shares and likes simultaneously increases traffic to a website as well. This speaks to the importance of utilizing plugins in an effort to make social content go viral (Social Media, 2017).