How to Create a Viral Social Media Campaign
We like to be heard on social media. Not just a little splash in our own pond of social media followers, but a sound that’s heard by a larger audience. To put it simply, we like to go viral. The only problem is that going viral isn’t an effective marketing strategy.
Going viral is like spontaneous combustion.
It just happens when it happens – with no warning and sometimes, for no reason. Many marketers say that content has to be at the right place at the right time to go viral, but we disagree. With the right content, in addition to the right timing, a post can go viral.
Many businesses will simply turn this important marketing opportunity over to their millennial intern. They’re the ones sharing photos and videos that are viral, so they should be able to make your content go viral, too, right? Wrong. A successful social media campaign takes an experienced team of public relations and marketing professionals including talented content writers and a creative graphic designer who can transform an abstract idea into content that tells an intriguing story.
One of our most successful campaigns was the 2015 Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association #MilkshakeSmiles contest. Here’s how we made this campaign make some noise and how we can do the same for you, too.
Identify the Opportunity
A successful social media campaign starts with an idea. We collaborate with our clients to come up with the best ideas that fit their brand and their goals. The key is to look for opportunities that the client can take advantage of, or create it from scratch. Pa. Dairymen’s Association has sold their milkshakes at the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show for years, and their customers were on social media posting pictures with their milkshakes, but no one had ever taken advantage of it. We saw the opportunity and created a strategy out of it. By knowing our client and their audience, we knew that their milkshakes were loved and that their fans would jump at the chance to win free milkshakes. As an experienced marketing team, we knew that people want to feel like they’re part of the brand, so we identified an opportunity to connect with milkshake fans. What better fit than a photo contest?
In this case, KISS (Keep It Short and Simple) was key. We knew it was important to keep the contest simple with few requirements to ensure fans would participate. We created the hashtag #MilkshakeSmiles and encouraged followers to upload their photos with their Pa. Dairymen’s milkshake using the hashtag for a chance to win a Golden Shake Pass for free milkshakes the following year.
Create Supporting Content
But, we couldn’t just have a contest. We needed engaging content with supporting graphics and entertaining posts. After launching the #MilkshakeSmiles campaign, our team was struck with an idea to create a video about the famous milkshakes using the Meghan Trainor song “All About that Bass.” The song was immensely popular at the time, and in a stroke of creative genius, “All About Those Shakes” was born. We worked quickly to make it come to fruition as the rest of the campaign was executed. We filmed milkshake fans dancing and singing with their shakes. In just a couple of days, we released the video, and it promptly went viral with Pa. Dairymen’s fans. The video reached more than 32,000 people on Facebook with almost 12,000 views, 620 likes and 183 shares. For a small business with less than 2,000 fans at the time, these numbers were astounding.
Maybe this video was posted at the right time in the right place, but it wouldn’t have gone viral if it were not for the months of strategic content and graphic planning that lead to that perfect moment. Without the supporting social media campaign, the video would have fallen short.
The results of the Pa. Dairymen’s #MilkshakeSmiles campaign were overwhelmingly positive. More than 450 fans entered the contest. The hashtag #MilkshakeSmiles reached more than 33,000 people. As a result, Facebook page likes increased by 21 percent, Twitter followers increased by 104.5 percent and Instagram page likes increased by 159 percent.
It’s exhilarating to watch ideas come to life and even better, watch them be successful. And, with a little luck, a lot of planning and a great campaign, your content might just go viral, too.