A viral marketing Christmas story
So it’s that time of year where sales are driven up by the festive season. No doubt every business has a plan to get customers flooding through the doors (or clicking ‘checkout’ as the case may be).
There’s one business that takes the biscuit when it comes to Christmas marketing campaigns. Fighting for that coveted Christmas advert number one spot.
This year, John Lewis, a frequent chart-topping campaigner, hopes to reach the top spot with its #MozTheMonster Christmas advert.
The John Lewis Christmas adverts are a great example of a viral marketing campaign. And here, we’re going to learn a little more about viral marketing, and how you can create your very own marketing campaign ready for the festive period.
But before we go into the nitty gritty of viral marketing campaigns, why not enjoy the 10 best Christmas adverts of all time.
What is viral marketing?
As the name suggests, viral marketing is a marketing campaign that spreads like a virus. Just like a virus, it needs a host to thrive.
Social media is the perfect host, as your message can be exposed to a mass audience, that with a simple click of a button people can share your content with their networks. They can then share it with their networks and so on. This knock on effect is how something goes viral.
Despite social media making it easier, viral marketing can be hard to form naturally. This is largely because of the sheer amount of competition and content out there, much of which is being created or engineered in attempt to encourage its virality.
What’s the big deal?
In the business world – it’s a very big deal.
In many cases, startup business have seen explosive growth resulting from a number of successful viral marketing campaigns.
The idea of viral marketing is all about getting content to spread as quickly as possible, with very little investment in time or money.
Whilst this method alone can sometime be successful, a little investment can go a long way in achieving virality. In John Lewis’ case, that investment was £7 million pounds.
Last year’s ad was shared nearly 2 million times… in one week! That’s a pretty huge audience in a very short space of time.
Viral marketing can help businesses significantly reduce advertising costs by getting their audience to do the leg work. No doubt John Lewis has seen, and will continue to see, a huge ROI on their Christmas ad spend.
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What makes an ad go viral?
We can’t deny it, much of it is down to luck (unless you’re sitting on a spare £7 million – and even then). But there’s still plenty you can do to help push your next marketing campaign into virality…
1. Set an objective
Whilst the most common objective of marketing is to create sales, sometimes this can come across a little obvious in a viral marketing campaign.
Think outside the box, and how you can use the campaign to generate revenue more organically. Perhaps this is a good time to raise brand awareness, to create some credibility in your business, to demonstrate some corporate social responsibility, or even to encourage new talent to apply for positions within your business.
2. Target your audience
Just like any of your other marketing efforts, you need to carefully select your audience, because it is nearly impossible to create a piece of marketing collateral that appeals to everyone.
Once you have an audience in mind, research them thoroughly. Identify their like and dislikes, personalities and attitudes, until you know how to target them on a personal and emotional level.
3. Keep it simple
The quicker you can get your message across, the more likely it is to go viral. In addition, the smaller or shorter the content, the more easily it can be shared.
Remember, the aim here is to encourage sharing of your content, so your number one objective it to make it as easy as possible for your audience to share your message.
4. Make it visual
The most common types of viral content are visual ones. Think videos, memes, GIFs and infographics. It’s much easier (and quicker) to invoke some form of emotion with imagery than it is with mountains of written content, so keep this in mind when planning your next piece of content.
5. Make it cross-platform
Whilst a TV or radio ad can be great, your limiting its coverage unless you release it online.
Think of a campaign that is likely to be shared, and design the content so it suits the most widely used social media platforms out there. YouTube is the obvious big video site, but make sure you push it out across your other social media channels.
A piece of content is much more likely to go viral if users have the ability to share it across the platforms they are familiar with. Whether shared over public social media posts or private web chats – a share is still a share.
6. Include a call to action
Whilst the call to action message should be subtle so as to not distract from the content, there should still be a message nonetheless. The content should be traceable back to your business, and a simple call to action can help make that connection clear.
Whatever call to action you decide, keep it in line with the theme of the content.
7. Ask for it to be shared
If you create a piece of content that provides value to your audience, people are often willing to return the favour.
If you’ve created a great marketing campaign, hopefully people will be inspired to share it. But there’s no harm in giving them a little push to let them know your intentions. Ask for those all-important shares and retweets, and encourage people to spread the good word about your business.
Why not give it a go?
Christmas is an important time of year for many businesses. This is the perfect opportunity to cater for the increased demand in goods and services.
Why not focus on getting your next ad or marketing campaign to go viral? I’m confident you’ll see an improvement with each attempt, until you hit the viral jackpot.
Why not start now and help us help others by sharing this article.