A critical component of your engagement marketing strategy is to inspire your audience to share your content within their circles of influence. This has led to a lot of thrashing about to create content that we marketers hope will go “viral”, yet the vast majority of this work doesn’t go viral. Why? A Harvard Business Review paper from 2014 offers up a potential answer. The paper isn’t focused on viral social campaigns, in fact the focus is on the rising cost of consumer attention. There is a lot of interesting stuff in this paper but the part that I find most insightful is buried towards the bottom.
“for ads to go viral, which requires
them to both be viewed and shared, emotions are critical. But to trigger broad sharing, the
sender’s personality is particularly important.”
“Self-directed people (versus others-directed) are more likely to share ads and do so broadly. The ads most shared has a special characteristic; they used content that enabled the self-interested person to benefit personally and gain some element of social capital from the act of sharing…these ads boosted the sharer’s social status by allowing them to communicate their values to others, to foster a tribal relationship based on an inside joke, to be seen as someone with privileged access to good content, or event to show there were the center of attention.”
In my post on positioning, I showed that your stories must be
- True and authentic to your organization and your organization’s values.
- Unique and differentiated from the competitive landscape
- Relevant to your audience and what they need or want.
In this case, the “what your audience needs or wants” is what sort of social currency can they get out of sharing your stuff. If you don’t know than you may be adding another dead body to the pile of campaigns that didn’t go viral.
Examples of highly shared ads and the social needs they satisfy
Enabled viewers to communicate their values to others.
Helped the viewer to relate to and foster their own tribes.
Virgin Air Bond:
Grant viewers priviledged access to valuable content.
Old Spice Twitter:
Place viewer in the center stage