Lately, I have been asking myself, “Why do companies really push their marketers to go viral?” Only 15 percent of marketing material actually goes viral, so why not push for something more realistic? I get that companies want to “Go big, or go home,” but this mindset just wastes marketing dollars.
Going viral literally just means the number of views your campaign reached. So, the obvious choice to get your marketing to the masses is social media. According to Jason Akeny, a contributor at Entrepreneur, “Getting your brand noticed via social media grows more difficult with each passing day. Users upload 100 hours of video to YouTube every 60 seconds and share more than 4.75 billion pieces of content on Facebook every 24 hours. Add to that 500 million new tweets per day, and the chances of breaking through to a wider audience can seem virtually nonexistent.”
The companies that have mastered the art of going viral, such as T-Mobile, Similac and Chipotle also have the marketing budget, for lack of better words, to waste when it comes to focusing on going viral. So, what can small businesses do to reach this same level of success? The truth is going viral isn’t an effective marketing strategy. This may be a hard pill for many to swallow, but it is still possible for those smaller companies to go viral, it just can’t be the end goal.
There is also the misperception that if you produce more content then it has a higher chance of reaching more people. But it will most likely just get lost in the social media ocean of information. Companies need to focus their attention on what their marketers are producing; quality not quantity.
“An assumption can be defined as anything that is considered to be true without proof,” states Marketing Strategy, book one in the SMstudy® Guide. So, going viral is really just that, an assumption. How do we prove how to go viral? As stated in the book, “Competition analysis involves examining the competitive landscape for competing products with a view to understanding the company’s current product portfolio relative to other products and determining opportunities for product differentiation.”
This does not necessarily mean that an analysis should be done for a company’s specific industry, but rather for many industries in order to find that proof. When it comes to creating viral content there is no formula, but evaluating how other companies achieved their success is a good place to start.
Companies that are looking to successfully market their brand (this is what the main focus should be) need to think outside of the box. Madison Avenue has always struggled to market feminine product companies. Women just don’t associate their “special” time of month with dancing on the beach in white pants. In 2013, HelloFlo, a subscription-based company that delivers feminine products right to one’s door launched.
The new brand was barely keeping their head above water when they decided to try something a little different. They decided to be honest. “The Camp Gyno” hit YouTube in the summer of 2013 and within 24 hours it became the ad of the day and reached 6 million views in its first month. Not too shabby for a product that was produced on a small budget.
It is possible for small businesses to go viral, but that doesn’t mean it should be the goal. The goal should be to create quality content that breaks away from the norm and makes people think, laugh, or even cry. Producing a content mill will not reach your prospective consumers, but creating the right content will. Stop wasting your time producing a lot of content when you could be producing the right content. Go ahead, I dare you.
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[Stephanie Vezilj, SMstudy staff writer, contributed to this article]