“Going viral” – the phrase itself connotes action and power, and it follows that viral marketing strategies have the potential to foster both. Viral projects provide maximum brand impact in minimal time. The kicker is that, in order to be successful, they have to be both shareable and share-worthy.
The following are a few key pieces of advice I would give to anyone planning to launch a viral marketing venture:
- Keep it simple. In nature, viruses depend on fast, easy replication to spread, and it’s exactly the same with a viral marketing strategy. Your project -- whether it’s a video or website launch -- is essentially just a container for your message. That’s why it’s important to keep your idea simple and unique. People innately share things that they perceive to have value; make your project worthy of being shared.
- Have an idea list. Write down your project ideas, and add to them every day. Keep track using apps such as Evernote or Any.DO. When an idea makes sense to you, build it! Use whatever tool you can to create it as quickly as possible. Personally, I usually use WordPress and upload a WooTheme to finish rapidly. At this point, delaying your project should not be an option. Work fast and launch fast. If your project is valuable and you do a good job of optimizing it to be shared, it will take off.
- Make it relevant. Whether your project draws on a current event, an issue in your industry or a popular trend, it’s imperative that it relates to your audience in a meaningful way. A good supplementary tool can be humor. For example, the day Marissa Mayer became Yahoo’s CEO, Sean Bonner made DearMarissaMayer.com. It probably took him just a few hours, but it was relevant, funny, and had a clear message – and in no time, it was all over Twitter, Facebook and Reddit with thousands of shares. In response, Flickr created DearInternet, which also received much attention, was funny and probably sent them a few good leads to work at Flickr as well.
- Just execute it. A good idea can be ruined by poor execution. Make sure the design and written elements of your project are fresh, flawless and aesthetically appealing. If your content and design are “blog-worthy” and you have an interesting story to share, bloggers will write about it and link back to you. Also, be sure after a certain point to upload the logos of blogs that have covered your project. People find them very appealing, and they’re a great way to build your brand. It can also tie a series of projects together to develop your reputation as a social media force.
- Optimize, optimize, optimize. The replication of your message should be absolutely effortless. By including the right sharing buttons, with the perfect text, customized hashtag, etc., you make it even easier for your audience to use social media to post and comment on your project with just a click. This is the heart of viral marketing; as your audience shares your project, your business gains more Facebook subscribers, Twitter followers and brand promotion. The more your audience shares, the more publicity you gain.
As an entrepreneur, it’s always good to be on other people’s radars. Viral marketing is a great strategy for doing just that, while simultaneously building your brand. “Going viral” can make a powerful impact on your business and lead to a plethora of future opportunities. Even small viral projects are a great way to get noticed – and stay noticed. All it takes is a relevant idea that is valuable, well-executed and optimized for sharing.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.