Your Viral Marketing Campaign – How to Make Ideas Spread

Some viral marketing campaigns spread like wildfire, others never get off the ground. So what are the variables?

People say, that to go viral with your marketing campaign you’ll need a new concept (or at least something that feels fresh) and it needs to have a purpose.

Take some of the best ideas of the last 100 years and you’ll find both of these elements.

Think about the improvement of lives as a result of solar lamps. They made it possible for social mobility to happen without causing health issues. And what about the Dog’s Trust campaign ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’? It transformed our belief system.

But we think there’s more to it than this. That’s why we’re delving deeper into the elements of what makes viral marketing campaigns really work, and taking the concept of ‘going viral’ literally.

The Idea Virus – Harbouring viral marketing campaings that spread

Nuture your idea

Just like the protein membrane that surrounds the nucleus of a virus. We first need to harbour our idea, producing the right conditions that it will flourish. When developing a viral marketing campaign never accept the first idea, nor the second or the third. In fact, it usually takes a long time before true innovation occurs, you might have to come up with 25 ideas or 100 even! But this is the point where creativity and intelligent problem solving come into their own. It’s called rapid iteration.

One way to hammer out the ideas in quick succession is to get a group together, people from different disciplines or with different experiences is always best. Then start doing some idea generating techniques.

Find a host

A virus requires a host cell in order for it to live and reproduce. So identifying the right host (or medium) for your idea to spread is pretty crucial.

‘A medium is not a manifesto—every idea is a manifesto, and the medium is the substance that the idea lives in’. – Seth Godin

So choosing our medium can be difficult. Every day we’re bombarded with more and more information online. And every time we see a new campaign with a new #hashtag our souls become a little more hardened. I think many people see social media as the key to reaching everyone, but only if people are interested.
Idea that virus hosts and marketing channels are the same

Where to infect with your viral marketing campaign

The lytic cycle is one of two cycles of reproduction. It starts off with adsorption where the virus attaches to the host cell. In our situation, this is problem recognition (See the transtheoretical model of change).

In order for people to take action, they first need to understand the problem. If they see no problem, they see no reason to change.

The next stage in the viral process is where information is released into the host cell. In our case, this is our medium. I would imagine a vet centre is one of the most trustworthy places to pass on information, so this is where our campaign starts.

So now we have a campaign idea that is tangible, perhaps here there’s an opportunity to create a more than just a message but a product as well. That way people who buy into an idea and this would spread the message.

This Girl Can does an awesome job of product/action/promotion. To make it possible to infect more people, they made exercise easy through a clear set of guidelines, discounts and funded events.

Increased the speed of infection (required to keep the campaign alive) by using social media. Just like a virus, we use social media to promote an idea. These new particles expand and the ideas break out, causing a new cycle of the problem/recognition process.

Key points to consider when running a viral marketing campaign

  1. Make lots of ideas – originality comes from perspiration
  2. Find the best place to spread your message to reach your audience
  3. Help people recognise the problem
  4. Deliver the message using a trustworthy source
  5. Make it easy for more people to get involved
  6. Speed up the infection through positive promotion
  7. Provide support to keep the cycle going

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