Certain stories, campaigns and content capture our attention and spread around the world like wildfire. When this happens to an event it’s known as “going viral” and it’s the dream of many content marketing campaigns.
If you’re new to the concept of viral content, this episode of AmyTV looks at why the recent Ice Bucket Challenge campaign has taken the world by storm:
#1: Substance behind the fun
YouTube videos such as “Charlie Bit My Finger” and the “Sneezing Panda” have racked up hundreds of millions of views because of their unexpected fun factor. But if you want people to not only watch or consumer your content, but take action, there has to be more substance behind the frivolity.
The Ice Bucket Challenge itself is silly and simple: people get ice water thrown over them and then nominate their friends to do the same. But that alone wouldn’t have been enough to make it into a craze. Participants got behind the cause of raising awareness and money for research for ALS, a motor neurone disorder.
I’ve mentioned before when looking at adding humour into your content marketing, you have to know what you want to say first BEFORE you make it funny.
#2: The concept was simple
Within seconds, the challenge is easy to understand, if you get nominated you have 24 hours to film yourself doing it, nominate someone else and donate to charity. It wasn’t a complicated challenge, although some people have gone to great lengths to fulfil it: fire engines, diggers filled with water, even a plan dumping gallons of water.
For something to spread it has to be simple, your audience should understand the concept within seconds. That doesn’t mean they have to LOVE it in seconds. The Ice Bucket Challenge has polarised opinion, but both sides are talking about it which is also helping build awareness.
#3: Advocates were happy to repeat the message
Content marketing is not a ‘one and done’ project and a common mistake for businesses is to get tired of their own message because they hear it all the time and assume others are getting tired of it also.
I think the Ice Bucket Challenge has peaked and is starting to fade, but to initiate the momentum in those early days advocates weren’t shy of repeating the message and sharing content around the story.
You have to think of different ways to keep your business story fresh without being afraid to repeat it. Why? Because people adopt new concepts in different ways:
- Early adopters only need to get the whiff of something new to dive in
- Most people like to wait a while, see what’s a fad, what’s not and if their friends or peers are taking it on
- Stragglers will wait until the last minute, almost on the way out before they accept something new
#4: Celebrity influence
This was a huge part of getting the message to spread, but even if you can’t get Oprah and Obama involved in your message, there are probably industry influencers who you can reach out to, connect with and engage who might be able to share your business story.
#5: Social fame for participants
I saw people who hadn’t posted on social media in over a year come out of their online caves to participate in this campaign. Why? Because it made them famous for a moment in front of their peers, but within the safety of group participation.
In short, they were famous in their own video, but didn’t have to worry about looking silly because all of their friends were doing it too.
Look at a campaign you’re trying to promote. Does it offer a similar recognition award to your audience? Or are you asking them to do something without giving anything back? A simple way to do this might be publishing a roll call of thanks to anyone who has shared or mentioned your comment, or providing a free gift of value for taking part.
Whatever you might think about the Ice Bucket Challenge, the momentum it gather is certainly worth looking at and studying to see if you can replicate it for your own campaigns.