GO­ING VI­RAL

Rel­e­vance should be lead­ing con­tent strategy, ar­gues Ja­mal Al Mawed.

Campaign Middle East - - FRONT PAGE - JA­MAL AL- MAWED Ja­mal al-Mawed is re­gional PR & cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

”Un­less the con­tent pro­vides value by stir­ring some kind of hu­man re­ac­tion in the viewer, your au­di­ence might en­joy it but see no rea­son to share it“

Abrand once handed me a short prod­uct video and said: “We need you to make this go vi­ral on so­cial me­dia.”

That sen­tence is a fan­tas­tic one­liner when spo­ken in a room full of in­tel­li­gent mar­keters, but there are many agen­cies suf­fer­ing right now try­ing to sat­isfy pre­cisely this kind of re­quest made in earnest.

Be­lieve it or not, there is a seg­ment of our in­dus­try that still be­lieves ‘go­ing vi­ral’ is the re­sult of some tech­ni­cal dig­i­tal ma­nip­u­la­tion rather than gen­uine hu­man in­ter­est. In these peo­ple’s minds, Face­book boosts, pro­moted tweets, search-en­gine op­ti­mi­sa­tion (SEO) and paid In­sta­gram shoutouts are enough to make their bland or ‘artis­tic’ video be­come an in­ter­net sen­sa­tion.

If that think­ing is ac­cu­rate, then Char­lie’s par­ents must have had a mas­sive bud­get when he de­cided to bite his brother’s finger, while the per­son who filmed a sneez­ing panda cub must have seeded his con­tent with some pow­er­ful panda in­flu­encers.

It may sound ob­vi­ous to preach that con­tent is king, but per­haps even more im­por­tant is what I call a rel­e­vance strategy. Vi­ral con­tent is about how much some­thing is passed on, so ask your­self at ev­ery step: is this rel­e­vant enough to be shared?

First off, you can’t cre­ate your con­tent be­fore de­cid­ing on your strategy. The types of con­tent that go vi­ral tend to fall into five cat­e­gories: shock­ing, mov­ing, funny, cute and sexy/pretty. These themes are ve­hi­cles around which to build your brand mes­sage, and each of them can reach a dif­fer­ent au­di­ence. So pick one that is rel­e­vant to your tar­get au­di­ence and your brand. Next, de­velop and pack­age your con­tent based on this theme. Ask your­self: is this con­tent rel­e­vant?

Next, re­mem­ber the adage: I don’t share your brand with my friends be­cause I like your brand; I share it be­cause I like my friends. Un­less the con­tent pro­vides value by stir­ring some kind of hu­man re­ac­tion in the viewer, your au­di­ence might en­joy it but see no rea­son to share it. Also, dif­fer­ent peo­ple will see dif­fer­ent value in the same mes­sage. Teenagers in a first world country might love watch­ing your video of danc­ing ba­bies, but are they in­ter­ested in buy­ing your prod­uct? And even more im­por­tantly: af­ter their chuckle, would they share it? Ask your­self: is the au­di­ence rel­e­vant?

The third mis­take is the as­sump­tion that so­cial me­dia is one en­tity. Wrong, wrong, wrong. A per­son’s be­hav­iour can dif­fer de­pend­ing on the plat­form. For ex­am­ple, if I use my Twit­ter mostly for cur­rent af­fairs and busi­ness news then I prob­a­bly won’t retweet your mov­ing soft drink Ra­madan video, but if I come across it on Face­book I might think about shar­ing it be­cause I use that for in­ter­ac­tion with friends and fam­ily. Ask your­self: is the plat­form rel­e­vant?

One of the big­gest so­cial me­dia mis­takes is not iden­ti­fy­ing the right mo­ment to start your vi­ral strategy. When Oreo put out its “You can still dunk in the dark” tweet dur­ing the Su­per­bowl black­out three years ago, the brand came out with its mes­sage us­ing the ve­hi­cle of hu­mour dur­ing a win­dow of a few min­utes when that hu­mour was rel­e­vant to mil­lions of peo­ple. At any other time that tweet would have meant noth­ing. Ask your­self: is the tim­ing rel­e­vant?

Once you have an­swered those ques­tions, then by all means in­vest in the nec­es­sary am­pli­fiers such as dig­i­tal spend, in­flu­encer mar­ket­ing and spon­sored posts to give your con­tent some vi­ral vis­i­bil­ity rocket fuel. But re­mem­ber that an am­pli­fier only am­pli­fies; it can’t make your con­tent rel­e­vant for you.

An ex­am­ple I love to use is Henkel’s ‘A Dec­la­ra­tion of Love’ by Sch­warzkopf Nec­tra Colour. Watch it and you will see how the brand chose the ve­hi­cle of mov­ing con­tent, in­fused its mes­sage un­ob­tru­sively (fan­tas­tic hair colours), tar­geted the rel­e­vant au­di­ence (women), used a rel­e­vant plat­form (YouTube) and chose its tim­ing (Valen­tine’s Day). The video has al­most 20 mil­lion views on its YouTube chan­nel alone, not count­ing shorter ver­sions do­ing the rounds on In­sta­gram and a sep­a­rate view count on Face­book videos.

They made that video go vi­ral.

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