When it comes to online marketing, Hollywood success stories are few and far between. Human attention spans are fleeting, and it’s getting tougher to build visibility around a campaign or brand.
It isn’t enough to produce an amazing video, upload it to YouTube, and plan a few sponsored posts on Facebook. Your company needs a distribution and PR strategy that is designed for the long-term.
The great thing about virality is that it isn’t based on luck — it’s the consequence of an exceptional marketing strategy. Here are 7 tips to help you get started.
Tip 1: Be a Researcher
Sometimes, campaigns go viral. Sometimes, they flop. As a marketer, your job is to understand why.
Start with a handful of videos from companies that are related to your brand. Maybe these campaigns are selling a similar product, or maybe they succeeded in resonating with the same target audience.
Whatever the case, you need to understand why. Let’s start with the following video from tampon delivery service HelloFlo as an example.
To date, the video has generated more than 7 million views on YouTube alone. Why?
The video speaks to a clear target marketing — women of all ages who are empowered and looking for more efficient ways to manage their health.
Press recognition helped amplify this video’s visibility.
HelloFlo attracted media attention based on its incredibly bold subject matter and powerful story.
HelloFlo crafted a strong narrative that instantly connects with the ad’s target market.
Once you’ve listed the elements of a viral video, you’re ready for step 1 — the process of translating these findings into actionable tips for your brand.
What human story would your brand’s audience find compelling? Why should your company have a voice and be a thought leader in this area?
What is your company’s narrative? How do your brand’s ‘hooks’ appeal to your audience?
Understand why popular videos go viral to give your marketing investment the best chance of success.
Tip 2: Find Influencers Who Care About Your Video
Karen X. Cheng, founder at 100, explains that this step was key to making her video — a story of how she learned to dance in a year — go viral.
“My YouTube description was full of links to possible sponsors– to the Lululemon and American Apparel clothes I was wearing,” Cheng wrote for Fast Company. “To the Lift app I used to track my dancing. To the BART train station I danced at. To the music I danced to. They’re all things I genuinely believe in, so I was happy to send traffic their way.”
Cheng contacted all of these companies and asked them to share her video. Some did. Some didn’t. Those that did share provided free, incremental exposure to her video.
Tip 3: Figure Out Your Distribution Engine
Determine how your video fits into your bigger marketing vision. To do this, you need to understand the touch points where your video is likely to be viewed.
You’ll likely want to share your video on key portals like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest. You might consider writing a blog article about it as well.
Most importantly, these marketing channels should have a built-in echo effect — a way for viewers to keep engaging with and sharing your content.
This tip can be as simple as creating a list of channels where your video is likely to be used. Focus on a handful of channels that you understand and can optimize.
Tip 4: Have a launch strategy
A recent article in The Guardian encourages marketers to focus on the first 24 hours of a video’s release.
“If nobody interacts with your video within the first 24 hours of release, it’s going to struggle to go viral,” wrote Pierre Chappaz. “The reason for this is the complex and somewhat mysterious YouTube algorithm.”
YouTube monitors the interaction rates (likes, comments, and shares) of all videos during the first 24 hours that they’re live. The most popular videos are promoted through YouTube’s country charts — dramatically increasing the chances of viewership.
Tip 5: Think Like a Search Engine
Search engines connect audiences to information that they’re seeking out. Make sure that your videos are easy to find my optimizing each title and descriptions with relevant and informative keywords.
Check out this blog post for a comprehensive guide to optimizing your video for SEO.
Tip 6: Make Your Video Easy to Embed
If your video is awesome, people will want to share it. Make this process as easy as possible by hosting it on a platform like YouTube or Vimeo like this example here –
Encourage bloggers to embed your video in their post. You may consider starting this process with a quick PR campaign. To get started, check out this blog post for automating your next PR campaign:
Final Thoughts: Harness Your Brand’s Growth Levers
Look for areas in which your brand has seen success — blog posts that are performing well or social media channels that are generating strong engagement. Focus on areas where you can continue adding to the conversation and amplifying your viewership.