“Going viral” the crown jewel of Social Media Marketing.  This is what we all hope for, and what only few will succeed at doing.  So I put together a short list of 6 things to keep in mind when starting a campaign that you want to go viral.

  1. Great Expectations

Before you start a campaign that you think has the potential to go viral, make sure you have the right expectations.  Does the content apply to everyone, or is it only appreciated by people in your field.  Set realistic expectations, not everyone is going to have an Old Spice Guy.  Have a target audience, and set expectations within that audience.

  1. Touch

Content that touches people and motivates them is the content that goes viral.  So what touches people, taping in to people’s childhood can be a great tool, similar to what PBS did with Reading Rainbow.  People want to be awed, feel better about themselves or the world.

Think about what you would share.  Are you going to share a story that makes you feel horrible, or depressed?  No.  You want to share positive messages, or cute things that make us happy.  And of course we want to share those out-of-the-ordinary stories, the ones that may not seem possible.

While funny and entertaining may dominate, if it is a serious issue heart wrenching can also work.  Who doesn’t get a little teary eyed during one of Sarah McLachlan Animal Cruelty Videos.

  1. Simplicity

Keep the content simple.  A lot of time this will include being short, but not necessarily always.  If there is value to your content, people will read it and they will share it.  But don’t over complicate things.  Some of the best things that go viral are super simple, Little Ceasers “Pizza, Pizza” or Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?”   Be focused, and get your point across clearly and quickly.

  1. Discoverable Content

Remember SEO, that was so 2010.  Well, actually it is still very important.  It is all connected.  SEO, Social Media Marketing, Television marketing, mail outs, email lists, websites and face-to-face interaction, it is all integrated.

When you have great content make sure that people can find it.  Cross reference it on your social media sites, share in any groups that you might think are interested.  Promote it in a variety of places.  You have to start the momentum ball rolling.  Nothing is shared without first being discovered.

Quick reminder though, there is such thing as over promoting.  You want to start the ball rolling, and you want make it easy to Find, View and Share your content, but don’t overdo it.  Notice I said start the momentum, if it doesn’t take off… sorry it most likely won’t ever go viral.

  1. Don’t Pitch the Sale

One last secret.  Don’t over brand or over sell your content.  Take the Dove “Real Beauty sketches” the brand doesn’t show up until there is about 5 sec left in the video.  Only people who are die hard’s for your brand will want to share something that is over branded.  And even then, they might not.  Be smart about how much you show your brand or product.

  1. Start Praying

Im not hear to talk religion, but at the end of the day, for something to go viral you can always use a little luck.  These steps will make it possible.  Have you ever had a moment where you start laughing at something, thinking it is histerical and then stop when you realize you are the only one?  Sometimes what you, your team, or company think is ingenious, may turn out to be not anything more than a chuckle.

There are many things that can derail a viral hit.  The production of the content, other world events may dwarf it or it might just not be that great of an idea.  In the end you have to be ready, and these steps can help get any campaign on the right track.