All of us are. Even though there are myriads of different content viruses hopping in and out of our brains (and news feed) every day, we’ve never built immunity to new ones. That’s just a fact of the human nature.
Great psychologists as they are, skillful marketers have observed it and taken advantage of it.
Hardly anyone could blame them for that.
Basically, the human impressionability is the fact that marketers drew on in order to enable their content to have a reach that was unimaginable throughout the human history. Therefore, it is a civilisational phenomenon as much as a commercial one.
During the previous few years, it has also become quite a mythical thing, that everybody wants to master, but only a few people actually have the privilege.
What’s at the core of things going viral?
There has been a whole variety of viral content buzzing through the Internet. There are hilarious, heartbreaking, witty, angry, politically or socially engaging, or just extremely funny things that are so irresistible that we cannot help but click the button to share and join millions of other people who did the same.
What do all those pieces of content have in common?
They trigger emotions by telling us compelling and original stories. They present things in an unusual way that nobody else has thought of.
Furthermore, they make us look cool when shared, as they are always current, up-to-date, and trendy. This means they recognize what’s relevant, which is another must-have for any marketing effort.
The biggest pro of viral marketing is that it can be planned, strategized and measured.
The biggest con is that it is, after all, unpredictable. You can do the most diligent analysis, think of the juiciest idea ever and deliver it in a flawless manner, and get just another piece of content with a wonderful impact which will never become, oh, viral. As irony would have it, this experience usually goes hand in hand with an even more frustrating one. That is, of watching a No-Name brand setting off with a piece that costed them absolutely nothing but goes viral in no time! All of a sudden, even big mainstream media start paying attention to them and willingly promoting them free of charge.
Nobody can guarantee you success in this game. It’s that simple.
Here’s another secret: viral marketing is super-inbound
When talking about inbound marketing strategies, their common denominator is that they are based on people’s affinities. They aim at those people who are already interested in getting the product or service. If I am in need of a product, a company strengthens my resolution to buy theirs, rather than their competitors’ product, and they do this by providing more value than their competitors do.
Viral marketing goes one step further. It aims at general human curiosity and thirst for new things that amuse them at the moment. It makes me want to eagerly spread the brand’s message, without having the intention to either buy their product / service or persuade others to do it. I may not even care about the brand itself, what it is and what it does. I will gladly put an effort and take part in the widespread contagious sharing of their content.
While doing that, I won’t get a sense that I am promoting anything but a great and intelligent piece of content. This will make me enjoy it so much more!
And now for a piece of advice
Going viral may seem a great temptation. Just like getting to be the first on Google in a couple of months.
Both of those things are easier to wish for than to accomplish.
Instead of trying to reach the skies, just think what makes them so compelling. Steal a trick or two from the people who have already managed it, and apply those tricks to your day-to-day efforts. Great things have this tendency to build up slowly.
If you get so lucky to go viral in the meantime, kudos for you. But you will appreciate more your stable success if it never relied on luck, nor stumbled for the lack of it.