Social media has brought advertising to the age of viral marketing. Now, more than ever, advertisers are throwing an increasing amount of haymakers, rather than jabs, in hopes of landing the knockout punch that rockets their campaigns into the viral stratosphere.
But should we all throw these haymakers instead of landing multiple jabs?
Of course not! That is a terrible idea.
To start, how many businesses have social platforms built to launch a viral campaign? Many small businesses lack the sheer number of social media followers to support a viral campaign.
Corporations like Nike or Walmart receive copious amounts of likes and shares. But their platforms were built through decades of success that has since created huge annual budgets with Mount Everest-like revenues. If the marketing team needs money for a viral campaign, executives can empty their pockets with minimal worries. The marketing teams can shoot for the moon because they’ll always land safely on soft piles of cash.
For small businesses, every cent spent in a marketing campaign must be meaningful with a minimal margin of error. Those marketing dollars are precious.
Twitter feeds are deceiving; it seems like viral tweets occur constantly, but those viral tweets are only the tip of the Twitter iceberg. Twitter accumulates a combined total of 500 million tweets per day. That’s a lot of tweets to swim through just to send a viral campaign.
Aiming for viral marketing is similar to boxing (hence, the name of this blog post). In boxing, jabs set up haymakers In marketing, strategized techniques set up viral campaigns, or at least they increase the odds of something going viral.
Instead of striving for that one campaign or advertisement that sends the world into a frenzy, businesses should use calculated marketing efforts to build an offline and online presence that can support a viral campaign.
Let’s use Oprah’s success story as an example. Oprah Winfrey didn’t simply create her show out of thin air, her career was calculated. She started as a Nashville news anchor, moved to Chicago to start a morning show and was finally spotted by movie critic, Roger Ebert. Her Chicago talk show was her platform, Ebert was the follower that sent her viral.
That’s not to say major corporations do not conduct calculated, strategized marketing efforts. These businesses already have customer loyalty and brand recognition to launch a viral campaign. Just like the Oprah example, small businesses should start locally. Their marketing efforts should strive to build the brand and name recognition within a community, then a state, region, and so on—you get the point. What’s the purpose of a viral campaign if only 20 percent of the social media users who share it are from your community? Are those other 80 percent from the other side of the country going to call to have you fix their plumbing? Probably not.
Customers are increasingly looking for convenience when shopping. This explains the rise of e-commerce as well as increased Google searches for stores that are “near me”. Sure, the marketing campaign is cute, but customers won’t travel through time zones no matter how cute the campaign. Customers will find their local alternative or simply look toward e-commerce. (You can curb that effect if your business has an online store).
But it is possible for campaigns to go viral in a community. Connect with the appeals and traits within the community rather than the characteristics of the social media users who will share your marketing campaign across the Twitter stratosphere. Connect with the local customers who walk through your door and turn them into local advocates. Word of mouth is the real-world equivalent to retweets and shares and it results in more successful outcomes. Even corporations can benefit from tailoring each of its locations to the community its in. Become a known, loyal voice in the community first, and expand from there.
At the end of the day, a bad campaign will only go viral for the wrong reasons. Marketers and advertisers should strive for calculated, effective marketing campaigns rather than shooting for the moon. A good marketing strategy always has the chance to go viral, but swinging for the fences usually ends with a strikeout.