It’s the dream of every corporate social media expert and all social media consultants – having your image, story, video, idea go viral.
Like the flu, viral messages spread without any effort. You just have to be unexpected, funny, witty, unusual, (UFWU) enough to capture the attention of people who have lots of friends and share UFWU things with each other.
Here’s the tough part – you never know what will catch on. This particular graphic list came from a creative bunch that needed something to replace the little animal picture they had up for Groundhog Day.
They chose coffee after hearing about some sort of marathon that involved running a lot, drinking a dozen cups of coffee, then running a lot more – which fits the UFWU approach, although it seems like a really bad idea otherwise.
It Happens By Being Yourself
They actually copied the concept – although not the info – from other people who have done the same sort of thing. The other people’s ideas did not go viral. They put the list together quickly as a group on a Friday afternoon and one of them posted it on Facebook and Twitter. Then they had a good laugh about it and went home. Now pay attention to the following quote, it tells you better than anything else how viral really works, “We weren’t trying to make anything cute or funny. We just needed something to replace the groundhog.”
If you want to understand the difference between the accidental nature of real viral messages and the many, many attempts to create something that will go viral, watch a couple of the late-night talk shows when someone who has a reputation for being funny is a guest. Pay attention as the host lobs the guest a couple of pre-planned softballs, allowing him or her to lob some designed-to-look-off-the-cuff stories or remarks back. It may be funny, but it’s planned funny, which takes some of the zing out of it.
Pro Tip: Years ago, funny people would say funny or smart or cute things in an office environment and everyone would laugh and go back to work. Now, with social media, you have at least a slim chance to get some recognition for the joke or idea and you and your company at the same time.
Now, go back to the old days of late night television and pick up a “Best of Carson” program. The style and humor are much less sophisticated, but there are moments on that show that would have gone viral if that had existed back then. As a matter of fact, almost anyone who worked in television back then had a reel or tape of grainy but funny outtakes collected from colleagues across the country. For an example, visit YouTube and do a search for Paul Lynde doing the Weather in Toledo Ohio. That was making the rounds long before the Internet existed.
While you’re on YouTube, look for a video about a frustrated talking dog. That video went viral and it led to a clip of that dog appearing in a commercial – no, not the dog, a YouTube clip of the dog – or at least it was made to look like a YouTube clip and it looked like the dog. (With ads, you can never be sure whether something is real or they’re just trying to look cooler than they actually are.)
By the way, did you notice how many Super bowl commercials this year involved dogs? Guess what kind of videos tend to get the most attention on YouTube? No, not those! It’s clips involving dogs, or babies, or baby dogs, or dogs and babies together, many of which are cute enough to hurt your teeth. People who write commercials are clearly spending way too much time checking out social media outlets to see what people watch or tend to like or share.
So how is this a problem?
They’re missing one of the most important ingredients of viral – the unexpected. One dog commercial is fun and memorable. Twelve or so and you’ve lost the impact.
What can you do to create something that goes viral? The easy answer: you can’t. But of course a social media blog has to provide some well-meant advice, so here goes.
When something makes you laugh – post it. When something unexpected happens and you happen to get a photo of it – post it. If you have a good story – post it.
Years ago, funny people would say funny or smart or cute things in an office environment and everyone would laugh and go back to work. Now, with social media, you have at least a slim chance to get some recognition for the joke or idea and you and your company at the same time. What’s the worst that will happen? Nothing – literally. No one comments or shares your post. What’s the best possible outcome? A mass influencer shares your post unexpectedly and it brings recognition, possibly new business and dare we say it…and little bit of fun to your security business.
Ignite Security Marketing is an inbound marketing agency that specializes in marketing and salesforce automation for the security industry. Since 2008, we have been the marketing partner of choice for SDM 100 corporations and SMB’s around the nation.
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