Chasing links, posting on social media, writing blog posts – it’s all pretty tiring stuff when you have to do it every single day. So it’s no wonder that companies are investing more money in the ultimate shortcut: ‘viral marketing’.
The idea behind viral marketing is creating a piece of content that does all of this hard (and often tedious) work for you. You simply write a blog post, take a picture or create a video that people will find engaging, share it online then wait for the views, social shares and links to roll in.
The good news is that it’s easier than ever to go viral. If you’ve got Internet access, you’ve probably already looked at several articles, pictures and videos before you’ve even had your first coffee of the morning, all of which attracted thousands of views from around the world.
So the question isn’t how to go viral, it’s why? There are certain marketers who question the quality of the traffic that these pieces of content attract. Think about the last article that you read; do you remember what website it was on? Were you exposed to a specific brand, or did you sign up for a newsletter? Probably not.
The key to successful viral marketing isn’t just getting a huge amount of eyeballs on your content. The key is to create meaningful content that gets meaningful results. If you take a scattergun approach to your viral marketing, it’s likely that you’ll not reap the full spectrum of benefits that are on offer; brand exposure, repeat visitors and powerful links.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at a recent example of ‘viral’ content that we produced at AIMS Media for Accident Compensation Scotland:
Let’s just get something out of the way; accident compensation is generally not a very interesting topic. We knew that we had to think slightly outside the box for this piece of content, so we opened up BuzzSumo and took a peek at some content related to accident compensation that had previously performed well. We were only interested in content that had received a decent chunk of social shares, traffic and inbound links.
Tip #1 – Don’t try and reinvent the wheel with your viral content.
Take a look at what worked previously and try to create a better version
We quickly noticed that a story about Stella Liebeck, an elderly woman who sued Mcdonalds after she split coffee on her lap, had received a huge amount of attention online. But strangely, most of the comments on these articles seemed to be aimed at branding Liebeck as a liar and villain for her actions. This presented an opportunity for us to recreate this content from a different angle – from Liebeck’s perspective.
Tip#2 – Do your research – properly!
Nothing will take the wind out of your viral sails like poorly researched content
As we were writing on behalf of an accident compensation company, it presented an opportunity for us to dig into the facts behind the case. We read court notes, studied countless articles and even watched various documentaries to try and immerse ourselves in the events of the court case. But it was important that we tried to remain as neutral as possible during the creation of our content, or else we could face serious backlash online, especially with a topic as sensitive as this one.
Tip #3 – Amplification is more important than creation.
If nobody sees your content, it will never pick up any steam
Spending time on producing quality content is definitely worthwhile, but the key to viral marketing is the amplification of your content. Without people sharing it, you’ll never pick up the traction needed to go truly viral. Say what you like about Google Plus, the vibrant communities are the perfect place to get some eyeballs on your content straight after you’ve hit publish. We shared our article in a few niche communities, including a ‘strange news’ community and a ‘law’ community.
Tip #4 – Keep your post alive by engaging with comments.
The hard work starts as soon as it goes lives.
Within minutes, our article had started to build up some momentum. People seemed to enjoy how authoritative the article was, dealing with the facts of the case rather than our opinions of Liebeck or McDonalds as a business. It was shared to LinkedIn too, helping to drive even more traffic to the site.
Tip #5 – Don’t forget internal links on your content.
You want to send people throughout your website to read other posts.
Within 2 days, the article had attracted over 6,000 page views, mostly from Google Plus and other social media websites. This was great, but it wasn’t until the dust had settled and we took a look at the analytics that we saw the real benefits of our work. Not only had the website jumped up the rankings for several competitive terms within the compensation industry, but it had also attracted links from a variety of news related websites.
Compared to most viral marketing efforts, 6,000 page views might not seem like much. But our content achieved exactly what it needed to, attracting quality links and helping to improve the rankings of the website for terms related to their industry. We also hope that the article will serve as a reference point for anyone looking to read more about the McDonalds coffee burn case from a different angle.