It’s come to this. You’ve been tasked by your company or have enlisted an agency to create a “viral” video/campaign. However, you probably don’t know what a viral campaign even looks like in the first place. There is a good reason for this: No campaign is actually viral in the first place.
Viral campaigns are actually just campaigns that are done well, resonate with their target audience and cross over to mainstream appeal. A viral campaign can cost as much as a million dollars…or be shot in someone’s backyard for $50. It’s all about the message, idea, and product you are trying to sell.
1. Try to Be Cool. Nothing looks worse then a corporation trying desperately to get “d0wn with the youth”. If you aren’t cool, don’t try to be. Otherwise you will end up looking incredibly stupid and out of touch. A recent example of of “cool” advertising is this Nissan Cube Commercial. Or you can really go for the gold by appealing to the girls from 1999: “The Frosty Posse”
2. Appeal to the Wrong Demographic. You can create the coolest thing since sliced bread. A campaign that is lauded by anyone that sees it (until they see what demographic you were going for). However, if it doesn’t mean anything if the campaign doesn’t connect with your product’s main audience. You mean white paper jokes don’t appeal to 8-12 year olds? Go figure.
3. Fail to Seed Properly. Seeding a campaign is no longer just an option. You best have all your ducks in a row pre-launch. Otherwise no one is going to see your campaign much less care about it. This is why utilizing PR outreach and social bookmarking becomes so important. Getting your message in front of the right people is becoming nearly as important as the message in this noise filled world.
4. Don’t Integrate Your Message. You can’t actually move product without having your content live everywhere. It needs to be a fully realized campaign with multiple heads in order to get the most bang for your buck. Just throwing a micro-site into the mix and calling it a day won’t cut it.
5. Try to Make Something Viral. Want something to go viral desperately? It probably won’t. Going viral usually is the result of either quality or unintentional hilarity/re-purposing. If you can’t create or have someone create something from your campaign…you probably aren’t going to go viral.
6. Play it Safe. Piss someone off. Be controversial. Be ridiculous. You can’t have viral success if you are unwilling to cross a few lines and make a few people feel uncomfortable. That’s just the nature of the beast.
7. Don’t Make it Easy to Share or Remix. If you don’t provide the tools to tie your campaign to social media, you will fail before you even begin. Take advantage of the rapid sharing/editing capabilities of social users. Do most of the work for them and enjoy the bump.
8. Remember: Funny>Smart. As a general rule of thumb, this is something to definitely keep in mind. The theory of relativity isn’t going to gain as much traction as something that is incredibly funny. Ask Dane Cook (or Raaaaaandy).
9. Fail to use Auto-Tune. Name something from the past 6 months that has gone viral in the past that hasn’t utilized some manner of auto-tune. Like it or not T-Pain owns the world right now.
10. Set Out to Create a Viral Campaign. Guess what? You won’t. The chances of you actually creating a bona fide viral campaign are less then one percent. So concentrate on creating great work, pleasing your clients and being the best at what you do. If you get a viral hit? Fantastic, that just means you can keep doing the job you love.