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Gone are the good old days when you would do a simple paper Ad to advertise your brand. Your Ad would lie around at some corner of a page, barely catching the eye. Your ad would say ‘Call Now’ in nice big bold text and this would be the only thing that sticks out in your Ad. Neither will the reader notice the rest of what your Ad said nor would he bother to write down or call the number that was below your big bold ‘Call Now’. There you were, sitting by your phone all day long, hoping to get a call that would change your fortune.
Hold you imagination right there. I’m bringing you back to the present.  Times have changed, the mediums have changed and most definitely your audience has matured. Matured enough to not give you more than a few seconds to make your point, not more than a few seconds to make an impact that will leave them thinking about your brand. The rest of it remains the same. You are still waiting, hoping that you have got your customer’s attention.
Every marketer is faced with the big challenge of creating content that sticks and goes viral. But, is it really an impossible feat ? While it is somewhat true that viral content is not created and it just happens, there are a few attributes that can improve the chances of a content going viral. By using the simple pointers below, marketers can create content that will have a far wider reach than what would have been achieved in its absence.
– Practical value or Stimulating
Its natural for people to share any content that they believe has practical value. We have seen how healthcare brands use online mediums to share preventive health tips or fashion brands sharing seasonal trends. This sort of content based marketing has proven to work for many brands.
Apart from the run-of-the-mill kind of content, what seems to really strike a chord with people, is content that is intellectually stimulating. Remember that TED talk on ‘How schools kill creativity’ by Ken Robinson that got shared around a lot. People love content that can stimulate them intellectually and stretch the boundaries of their imagination.

– Connects with your audience 
As a marketer, your primary focus must always be on getting your audience right. And I don’t mean just the simple factors like age or other demographic indicators but, the deeper aspects like what they like, their interest, things that they look for in a product, their nature, etc.
When Vespa launched its bike in India, they had to get head on with much larger motorcycle giants that were already catering to a wide range of customers within the country. Vespa knew its audience very well. It positioned itself to click with the young and peppy youth of India.
Volvo has been around for a very long time. The brand was known for making cars with high safety stands. But nothing apart from it really got people talking about it. Atleast not until Volvo pulled this little surprise on everyone. The internet exploded with people across the globe mentioning Volvo and the ‘Epic Split’ by Van Damme. The magical combination of getting a celebrity and having him do a miraculous feat, subtly bringing out the engineering excellence of Volvo, was something that Volvo knew would connect with people.

– Creative and replicable 
Being creative can really pay off. If that creative thing you did can be replicated, even better. When Bradley Cooper and Ellen DeGeneres took that selfie at Oscars, little would they have thought that their photo could have brought twitter down temporarily. The picture spread like wild fire across social networks with people contributing their share of selfies that was inspired by the one taken by Bradley Cooper. What was key in this behaviour was the ease with which people could come up with their own versions with as little effort as possible. People love the idea of being creative and when you can give them that inspiration and a platform to do so, they will do it right.
The ‘Harlem Shake’ is another good example of how creativity and simplicity can inspire people to make their own adaptations of the original content. The video fostered group spirit and offered a way for people to be funny without anything holding them back.

– Timing and delivery
Timing of your content may be crucial. Always keep an eyes for what is trending. There are many tools that tell you what is trending across the web – twitter, blogs, facebook, etc. If your content is designed around what is already popular, it might very well ride the trend wave along with the rest. For example, if its the football season, sports apparel brands see an opportunity to push their products by buying air time during the season.
The medium of delivery may also be important depending on the intent of your content. When the US govt. launched, they received far little response that what they had expected. The platform was also buggy and led to it being branded a failure. On a recent comedy TV series called ‘Between two ferns’, Obama gave an interview which was very candid in nature. He spoke of, urging young americans to signup online for the insurance. This stint drove a 40% increase in daily traffic to the website and the video that was posted on youtube had well over 3.5 million views as of 25th march, 2014.

– Arouse strong emotion
Content that can arouse a strong emotional state has a tendency to touch and influence people. The emotion can be one of joy, awe, surprise, sadness, etc. People usually react to such content by sharing it further or voicing their opinion online. If your content can emotionally connect with people then it will be well received.
Lifeboy’s hand wash ad that spoke of infant lives that were lost as a result of poor personal hygiene was a big hit among people. The Ad sent a strong message out on the importance of personal hygiene and how something as trivial as washing a kid’s hands frequently can help them avert many health related problems and even death in many cases.

– Be Rebellious, Be different
When was the list time you danced to Gangnam Style ? The song took the music industry by storm. In a time when most pop songs were sounding the same and the music video were equally boring, ‘Gangnam Style’ came as a breath of fresh air. It was starkly different, the dance style was very unique and nothing like anything that we have seen before. When thinking of content, try to take lessons from this music video and be rebellious and try something new !
– Humour
Humour sells ! Many viral campaigns have spread because they could make people laugh. However, this kind of content does justice for small brands, but big brands find it hard to add humour into their content. But at times even big brands break free from this clutch. The Mac Vs PC ads are a good example of this.

Closing remarks
Having said all this, its still hard to predict if a content will go viral. We have seen many good content go viral and many go nowhere. But planning out your content to use some of the above tips, will give it a fair chance to become viral.
Do you have any ideas on how to make content go viral ? If so, do share your inputs in the comments section below. Would love to hear them.

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