How to Tap into Viral Marketing and Craft Contagious Content

Written by Gabrielle Brogan
May 9, 2022
Written bY
Gabrielle Brogan

“That Gillette ad made me cry.”

“Did you hear about Barilla pasta’s Spotify playlist?”

“My friend’s #shotoniphone pic ended up on a billboard!”

Sometimes, content leaps out from our Instagram and TikTok feeds and takes form in real life, becoming something we talk about at brunches, meetings and drinks. This can be sparked by individual content creators, but more often than not, it’s a clever company leveraging the power of contagious content.

When leveraged correctly, marketing campaigns can gain so much popularity that they sweep across devices and are re-shared literally millions of times, popping up in feeds all over the world. And when that happens? The brands that started it all get a whole lot more recognition and engagement than ever before.

If you have a smartphone, you’ve definitely encountered a viral marketing campaign before. It might be an infographic revealing fascinating information about a certain cause or company. Perhaps it’s a challenge that Gen Z’s started participating in, eagerly picked up by Millenials and beyond. It could also be a video clip or GIF. Really, anything goes, as long as it grabs attention and keeps it.

But how do you harness the power of viral marketing for your business? Well, we at KCG are ready to spill the tea and get you started on your pathway to contagious content.

1. Use Social Media

There’s something about social media that simply paves the way for content to go viral. In fact, in a recent survey, 75% of respondents selected social media advertising as one of the most effective ways to get content to go viral. Now, you might prefer more traditional ways of getting information across, like webinars and email campaigns, but those shine best in other forms of marketing campaigns – 35% of marketers said webinars were the least effective at going viral. Not sure where to start on socials? Take a look at the below platforms and consider whether any of them might be right for your company.

  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • TikTok
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest

Building a presence on social media will give you a solid base from which to launch your viral marketing campaign. Take a look at current viral trends as a starting point for crafting your own contagious marketing idea. Here are some of the forms of content you might choose:

  • Infographic
  • Instagram Picture + Caption
  • Video Clip
  • Tweet + Picture
  • TikTok Challenge
  • Instagram Reel

When you post content on social media, the algorithms pick up popular content and serve it to more and more people, meaning that once it gains traction, you can sit back and watch the wave sweep audiences across the world.

2. Plan for Your Target Audience

Your content needs a place to land. Real users on social media need to find your content interesting and hit “share,” or “reply” or “retweet.” So it’s simply a case of narrowing down who those users are. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • Who do I want to connect with?”
  • What content would they feel passionate about?
  • What are their values?
  • Why would they care about my campaign?
  • What can I do to make them want to share my content with their social network?

From here, you should be able to sketch out some basic personas: age, location, interests, wishes, values, desires. Craft something based on what these people would find engaging and interactive as part of a viral marketing campaign.

A word of advice on this – remember the disaster Pepsi had in 2017? You know the one we mean. When Kendall Jenner offered a can of refreshing soda to a police officer at a protest in which beaming protestors held banners stating “make your voice heard.” In a time of political and social upheaval, this went viral for all the wrong reasons. It was called out of touch, insensitive and uncomfortable. And Pepsi suffered for it, with a rapid decline in sales from millennials. Beyond planning for your target audience, make sure you think about the global, political and local climate for your campaign.

3. Leverage Visuals and Emotions

In a world of visual storytelling, nothing is more powerful than strong imagery. Make sure that your viral content, whether it’s a video, GIF or infographic, features strong visuals that catch people’s attention. Think about color schemes and aesthetics. Also think about how easy this would be to share. Will people feel comfortable sharing it on their Instagram stories or their Facebook? Really put yourself in their shoes when it comes to planning this content.

Try to tap into an emotion that will be likely to trigger people to stop scrolling and share. Depending on your messaging, you might find humor to be the best fit. If not, consider sadness leading to a happy conclusion – a feel-good piece. The content itself really depends on your company, but above all, it does need to have that emotional and visual hook. Anything bland, boring or overdone will fade into the ocean of social media campaigns that simply didn’t gain any traction. At KCG, we’re big on taking risks. And if there’s one thing we know about viral marketing, it’s that risks are absolutely essential to grabbing and keeping attention in the modern age.

Are you ready to start crafting your own contagious viral marketing campaign? We hope you found these tips helpful as a starting point. Be sure to reach out to us with any questions and tag us in anything you create – and follow us on Instagram and Facebook too.