Myths of Viral Marketing

Viral campaign, in the age of social media, is almost like a keyword that gets added to every client brief or media plan. While the early roots of a viral campaign lies in primitive forms of email marketing, the social media changed the dynamics. Last I heard was a content portal that launched with the philosophy of producing only viral contents.
But is that even possible?
Daily, marketing geniuses are chasing a constant impossible – to create a viral campaign. If you are one of the marketing managers bestowed with the responsibility of creating a viral campaign for your client or your own brand, here are few myths you can try not to believe.

Myth 1: You make it happen (You don’t make it happen, it just happens)

Every now and then you will find a client who will say, “Let’s do a viral campaign” and for every such client you will find one agency who will declare “It’s easy. We can do it”. In reality, you cannot. Viral campaigns would not have been viral if you can DO it. Viral campaigns, in the online space, are measured by the number of shares, likes, comments, most of which is an irrelevant measurement metrics in most cases. Viral campaigns are campaigns that catch your target audience’s fancy to the extent that they share it with another person in the same target group, thereby reducing your cost of propagating the advertising message. The fact that you have very little and in most cases no control over who the content will be shared with  (by the audience) gives you very little control on the ‘virality’ of the campaign. Hence do the right thing but don’t plan the results.

Myth 2: It’s quick and easy

Sorry to break your heart. It’s not easy. Never under estimate the effort that goesintrying to build a campaign that you wish to have a viral effect. Everyday hundreds and thousands of content providers, marketers, brand managers, social media experts and bloggers are trying to create viral campaigns in one way or other. While somebody is trying to push their product, others are propagating a message or news or a brand. As a result the audience is bombarded with loads of message. Though you have very little control on what will be successful, you need to give it your best shot – hence everything but easy. Take time to plan out the message, its relevance in the life of your audience and the way you make it reach out to them.

Myth 3: The returns are always ‘mind-blowing’

Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, not. It’s not actually a myth that the returns from a successful viral campaign are often great but many a time you are struck with bad luck. What happens many a times is that the creative becomes more successful than the message. The audience shares the message without remembering the brand name associated with it. Since the way to measure the returns from a viral campaign are very limited, you end up thinking that the campaign was successful when it was not. But the overall returns do not end up being mind blowing.

Myth 4: If it’s not ‘viral’, there is a problem with the ‘creative’ or the ‘team’

The fact is viral campaigns depend on luck to be successful overall. The creative is important and so is the team. But you cannot rule out the element of luck in the success of any marketing campaign. More so in a campaign desired to have a viral effect. So evaluate the results but don’t read too hard.

Final word

Do not make your entire strategy depend on the virality of the campaign. In today’s world anybody with a camera or mobile or webcam and an idea can make a video and share. And unknowingly, you are competing with them even if your target audience is different simply because you are sharing the same ecosystem. We, the audience, love stupid things many a times as compared to intelligent campaigns. In a fast life we take split seconds to decide on what to share and with whom. You maybe deserving but you still may not make the cut. Your campaign maybe great but we may still find the video of the cat missing the wall funnier.



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