Did you know that the Harlem Shake videos have been viewed world over by over 700 million people and counting?
The Harlem Shake video phenomenon seemed to dwarf even the recent ‘Gangnam Style’ video which was the most viewed video of all times; at over 1 billion views on you tube!
While it isn’t easy to start a viral movement, when it does happen, it can take the most regular people or brands and turn them into online stars. It’s like a dream-come-true for any digital marketing company that aims at maximizing online visibility and interactions for their clients and brands.
So what makes stuff go viral? Well honestly, there is no definite formula that can ascertain what content can go viral. But considering the power of its reach, going viral on social media can reach out to billions of users and make success stories of brands and individuals overnight! This makes it pretty hard for marketers to ignore it as a medium.
So here’s the good news. While there is no sure formula, there are a few elements that these massive internet phenomena share in common. These are what made them a success. So what are they?
Is it simply quality of content? Well if that was true, Rebecca Black’s “Friday” wouldn’t have received the 200 million views that it did. Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ proves that language too is not much of a barrier. Is it the human element? No! There are 3 hour long versions of Nyan cat videos that have received over 4 million views to prove that fact!!!
Whether it is a video, a picture, a quote, a tweet or anything else, if it appeals enough to the masses, it has the power to go viral. All it takes is a few shares and the right audience to trigger an avalanche of sharing across the Internet.
So here are 4 essentials that comprise a successful viral campaign:
1. Element of surprise:
When users come across content that amuses/surprises them, they are moved and are propelled into action, to share their experience and talk about it or opine about it.
Who did this? Evian!
According to the Guinness Book of World Records the Evian video featuring computer generated babies on roller skates breakdancing & backflipping, is the most viewed online ad in history; receiving more than 54,000 comments and tweets to date, as well as more than 65 million views.
2. Induce action:
In a rather mundane life, a very large segment of users are looking to social media to keep them entertained. Brands tailoring their campaigns to serve this very segment, inducing them to participate, are very likely to be successful.
Who did this? Burger King!
Similar to the Harlem Shake meme which was born on 2nd Feb 2013 and had 4,000 videos being uploaded per day by 11th Feb; Burger King tailor-made an entertainment loaded social campaign to promote the chain’s TenderCrisp Sandwich.
With the help of a person in a chicken suit, dubbed the ‘subservient chicken’, Burger King created a platform where a user/viewer could type in commands like ‘moonwalk’ and ‘make a sandwich’ and get entertained by watching the chicken obey the order. The video received 15 million hits in the first five days!!!
3. Visual appeal
Visual appeal, here, refers to formats rather than the quality of visuals. Campaigns don’t necessarily need heavy spends on HD videos and brilliant resolutions and locations. Just regular stuff packaged in formats that command more attention can work wonders too!
Who did this? Blendtec!
Blendtec, a company that manufactures blenders and mixers created videos of their kitchen accessories destroying just about everything from a baseball to an iPhones and iPads. The videos have done more than boost awareness of Blendtec blenders; with home sales of blenders having increased by 700%.
4. Get promoted/ mentioned by a celebrity
Having the campaign promoted by highly influential individuals of society gives a boost to the campaign. These individuals have the power to propel the campaign by reaching out their large follower base and gain higher impressions and reach for the campaign.
Leveraging famous names from the industry could mean anything from including them in the campaign itself, to including interviews to even so much as a simple tweet from them. After all, it was a simple tweet from Baauer’s producer Diplo and website Collegehumor.com that catapulted the Harlem Shake videos to internet stardom!
Leaving you with that thought, I feel the need to mention that while celebrity endorsements on social media can be a blessing, if not monitored, they can spell disaster, as was the case with Oprah Winfrey endorsing Microsoft Surface on twitter through her iPad!
What are your thoughts on the elements that increase the possibility of virality? Have you ever asked your social media agency to plan a viral campaign? Which are the viral campaigns that really drew your attention? Speak your mind in the comments.