Viral campaigns: my pick of the ten best ones of 2012

Viral campaigns: my pick of the ten best ones of 2012

Viral campaigns are the ultimate fantasy of every brand that wants to be seen, heard, circulated and talked about on the social media. Social campaigns, among other strategies, almost always wish to innovate with some viral content. That’s easier said than done, though … and that’s why it pays to study the successful ones that got there.

Every brand wants more traffic, views, subscribers, followers, fans … and more engagement from people. The secret to having all this in one go is to somehow get your brand’s social campaign to “go viral”. It’s hard to put your finger on what makes a campaign go viral, however, because while most of us know how to list the ingredients that a viral campaign usually has, there is no guarantee that if you deliberately build a campaign with all these ingredients it will definitely spread around the social web like wildfire. Going viral is entirely a hit-or-miss thing!

If you’re still interested in seeing what makes viral campaigns tick, here’s a list of five ingredients that most experts believe to be the hallmark of powerful viral social campaigns:

  • Successful viral campaigns seem to focus on current events and trends. If people are searching in huge numbers for a particular trending topic on Google, and if your campaign can be built on that trending topic, chances of your campaign going viral are considerably enhanced. Pay special attention to Twitter hashtags or Google’s trending keywords.
  • Go for video or highly visual content. While there is no rule that only videos go viral, you cannot also argue against the fact that almost 80-90% of all viral campaigns contain some form of video content. Videos are shared like crazy online. In the absence of video, photos or other imagery can be just as good as fodder for viral content.
  • Try to get the attention of someone big – a celebrity, a hyperactive social influencer, a controversial personality or even an irreverent whacko. Try tweeting them till they notice your content and then cross your fingers and hope they decide to toss out an opinion about it. It’s hard to ignore the fact that a lot of viral content on the social media first got the eyeballs of someone who was already popular online and decided to tweet about the campaign.
  • Start a contest with an exceptionally attractive prize. If you cannot give away something of real excitement value, beware. Nothing bombs as easily as a contest without a supremely compelling incentive to participate. Contests need to be neither too easy nor too difficult, nor smell of too much “brandspeak”. The contest topics you choose need to be more about what social users talk a lot about, rather than only reflecting what you believe are the values of your brand.
  • When all else fails, go for humor. If your video or social campaign can tickle a few ribs, raise a chuckle, evoke a hearty laugh or is just downright hilarious, you may be lucky enough to see your campaign go viral. If you’re not one who can be very funny or get your hands on really humorous content, try to be shocking or controversial. Sometimes that is easier than trying to be humorous!

Enough said now. Time to see what the ten best viral campaigns of 2012 were all about and to see if their formula can be followed with your own originality.

NAB Bank finds a way to reward honesty

NAB Bank placed a number of shoppers in situations where they could walk away with something valuable, or be honest and hand it in. Those who took the honest approach received a nice surprise.

Coca-Cola makes innovative use of its CCTV cameras

Coca-Cola offices are kitted with CCTV cameras to ensure the company can check on wrongdoings … but the company was able to harvest some utterly funny moments to share as viral videos.

TNT Benelux created a huge surprise in a quiet square

I won’t explain this one – it’s just got to be seen and enjoyed!

Air New Zealand’s unusual flight safety announcement

Cashing in on the trending of ‘The Hobbit’ in cinemas, Air New Zealand produced a safety announcement in their aircraft in the style of JRR Tolkien’s classic series … and then posted the video online.

Nike’s video for Euro 2012 hides Easter eggs

Nike’s video for Euro 2012 was a great advert in and of itself, but the addition of interactive elements, such as a number of hidden Easter eggs hidden within the video, made it worth watching again and again.

The Guardian retells the story of the Three Little Pigs

The classic children’s tale got a strange new twist when the Guardian retold the story of the Three Little Pigs to show much media had changed.

OK Go drives off in a Chevrolet

OK Go is well-known for its memorable music videos, but it found a way to collaborate with Chevrolet, where the car became the instrument …

Melbourne Metro shows dumb ways to die

In another twist to a safety video, Melbourne Metro created a catchy song that kept ringing in people’s head for days.

Barclaycard in a toy story

Barclays takes one man through an entire process in a Toy Story style of video to show how huge mobile payments are going to become.

A dancing horse sells OPI nail polish brand

Totally unexpected! A nail polish brand isn’t the type of product you would expect to use a horse in a dance-off.

Book Picks
The Viral Video Manifesto: Why Everything You Know is Wrong and How to Do What Really Works
by Stephen Voltz & Fritz Grobe

Creating the next YouTube blockbuster is easier than you think! Includes more than 100 QR Codes linking to successful viral videos.

       
The Viral Video Handbook
by Tom Brennan

This book covers everything you need to know on how to get your video to “go viral” on the Internet and get seen by millions of people.

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