Going Viral, No Meds Required

Kait Park • October 6, 2022

“Going Viral.” At this point in time we have all heard the phrase, good or bad. But what exactly does going viral mean? Essentially, it’s a piece of content on the internet that spreads rapidly. Early adopters find a video, song or moment and begin commenting and sharing it with their audiences, it reaches new users and then they also share with their followings, raking in likes and views until it reaches the masses! Not unlike, say, a viral disease.

Grim associations aside, you may have also heard this phrase during a marketing meeting. Someone on your leadership team says, “We want this to go viral!” As anyone in the social media space will tell you, the concept is easier said than done. Unfortunately, communications professionals have not yet been able to create the secret formula that maximizes views on a post or video, but there are some tactics that can help you gain new impressions and new eyes on your team’s content.

1) Tap into an existing trend: Reels and TikTok have made it easy to remix or utilize a popular trend or sound with your own unique twist. Most recently, you may have heard of “The Corn Kid,” a boy at a local festival who was all too eager to share his love for the vegetable with a man on the street interviewer. His clip was so popular, other accounts began using his voiceover in their content to show love for a product, place or person. The Corn Kid clip then became a song, and social media marketers had an entirely new way to use this viral clip. This is one very specific example, but it’s seen across platforms. Social media content creators may not be able to make a viral moment happen on their own, but when they take a piece of culture that the internet already loves and make it fit with their brand and mission, it increases shares and reach, and easily opens doors to new audiences.

2) Be authentic: Many of us have seen videos of early morning news anchors or late night hosts trying a TikTok dance. Sometimes it works, and other times it is what the internet likes to call: “cringe.” Social media users are discerning, and they know when they are being pandered to. Only use a popular trend that makes sense with your brand and its mission. This is not to say you cannot be creative in making the trend fit! Putting eyes over objects has been popular on TikTok for a while, and Ryanair actually used this trend to give their brand a new personality and a sort of “character” to comment on videos about travel. Their TikTok is very different from some of their other marketing, but ultimately, it’s a success! Ryanair and their use of TikTok were a cover for Aviation Marketing Monthly, and their TikTok developed a cult-like status, with users in the U.S. and Asia demanding Ryanair start flying there.

3) Be timely: The digital landscape is always changing, and you don’t want to hop on to a trend after the rest of the internet has moved on to something new. Internet users pay attention to when brands utilize a trend, and waiting too long can inspire some not so kind comments. As much as “going viral” may be a goal, it can sometimes be difficult to have leadership on board with approving content that may take them out of their comfort zone. Communicate clearly on why a risk is warranted and why the time is now. Be prepared with metrics and analytics after a post to show why this risk was worth it. Improved engagement rates, higher impressions and new users can help illustrate that your attempt at going viral was ultimately a success.

When crafting social media content, creativity is key. The best way to increase engagement is by being yourself and showing who your team truly is, rather than trying to manufacture a viral moment. Utilizing current trends, staying true to your brand’s mission and finding the right time to enter a conversation will help your social media content soar to the next level.

 

 

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