1. Know Your Audience
The key is to understand that your audience for your particular marketing message ISN’T EVERYONE. As much as you want to believe that your product or service is for everyone I can almost guarantee you that you’re wrong.
Even people who sell air don’t market to everyone. They find people who struggle to breathe and those who interact with that group.
So first you need to narrow down your audience. The more specific you are, the easier it will be to connect with them. Are you talking to high school students? Parents? People with one eye and a cat named Caticus Maximus? Those who have lived in more than 6 cities? Software companies bigger than 20 employees in Denver?
This is important because reaching 80% of your audience classifies your message as viral no matter what size your audience may be. In other words, “viral” is relative.
Figure this out then learn about them. Do they like bathroom humor? Do they prefer educational videos with a 1940’s flair? Is the cheesy feel-good video the best route? Would they respond better to a tugging at their heartstrings or fascinating them with sci-fi?
But don’t stop at what type of videos they watch. Find out what their problems are in their jobs. Find out if they’re typically married or have kids. Find out what causes they care about. Find out what their bosses care about in the business.
Now, this step is great, but it means nothing if you don’t use it.
2. Give Them What They Want
One of the biggest mistakes too many companies make in their marketing is making it all about themselves.
95% of the time your customers and clients don’t care about how long you’ve been in business or how happy your employees look. (I made that number up, but it’s so true!) So quit wasting their time and give them content that they want to watch.
Are they largely Star Wars fans? Relate Star Wars to your company in a creative way no one had thought of before. Does 90% of your audience own at least one cat? Compile one of those cat videos and watch it fly on YouTube. Maybe 90% of your audience hates cats and owns dogs. Make a video about cats acting stupid.
Your video of you talking to the camera about how awesome you are at your job with your logo in the corner isn’t going to turn heads. If you are dead set on talking about your business you can get away with that if you inject humor or other unexpected twists. Changing things up is a great way to start down that viral road, but the same old same old won’t get you anywhere.
3. Give It to Them When They Want It
Timeliness is huge when it comes to virality. If your timing is off by any amount of time then it doesn’t matter how perfect your script is, your audience won’t care.
Current events and other popular material can help guide your timing decision, but ultimately it’s up to you.
So that’s about it. Many of you may go to your video production company looking for a viral video, but the fact is that you have more control over that than we do.
It’s your job to know how to talk to your audience. It’s our job to then take that idea and produce a video that’s better than a Broncos victory on Sunday.
That’s not to say that we can’t help you shape your message. We’ve been around a long time and have plenty of experience crafting successful messages. But the fact remains that you’re going to know your audience better than we will.
If you look at viral videos of the past you’ll notice that the vast majority of them use one or more of three tactics to connect to the masses: humor, others’ pain, and eye sweat.
If you can appeal to someone’s sense of humor successfully then they’ll gladly pass it along to their friends. Along the same vain, if you can poke fun of others’ pain (when it isn’t too serious) people will gasp and then share it. Just look at the horde of fail videos out there.
Now, by eye sweat I mean tearjerkers. Give people warm fuzzies and they’ll appreciate it enough to share it with their friends.
For example, have you ever seen a video of a soldier surprising his family by coming home early? Of course you have. Did you get goose bumps and a stupid smile on your face? Of course you did.
Because you’re a human and humans like that kind of stuff.
It may not be appropriate for you to include a soldier returning from a tour, but learn from the principles at work and apply them to your marketing.
This stuff works. Do it.
Don’t forget to learn from your past experiences in order to improve your success rate. Find out what worked and what didn’t then adjust your strategy.
That’s all, folks.