Learning how to craft a viral marketing campaign is relatively easy. Yet few companies seem prepared to deal with the aftermath, and fewer still effectively turn their viral successes into increased sales.
In 2013, US website Mashable analysed the viral success of one of the country’s biggest supermarkets. Surprisingly, despite having three adverts go viral that year, the company’s same-store sales fell by 2.1 percent in the 3rd quarter. Even more damningly, separate research by Communicus suggested that 80 percent of adverts shown during the Super Bowl – America’s largest sporting event, where 30-seconds of advertising space can sell for over £3million – didn’t boost sales the following week. This included those videos and a marketing campaign that went viral.
So, how do you take advantage of a successful viral marketing campaign? Here are some tips for giving your efforts an opportunity to re-infect your business.
- Have similar content ready to go. Consistency and good planning are core to a strong social media presence. If a new technique you’re developing results in a huge influx of customers, be sure you can back it up with similar content they’ll love.
- Check your web server’s capacity. A 2013 survey from Brother International Corporation found that 75 percent of small business owners thought a crashed computer was more disruptive than an ill employee. What might cause a more catastrophic crash? Hundreds of thousands of people visiting your site to see your viral content. If you strike content gold, it might be hard for you to even measure your irritation, and all of that traffic on your website is wasted if people see only error messages due to a server crash. If you’re aiming to go viral, make sure your infrastructure can handle the extra attention.
- Prepare to engage. If you can’t manage the real-time engagement, at least for a small business, you can try to be as viral as you want, but nothing will stick. Small-business owners should plan to respond to comments, put out press releases, answer the phone, and otherwise deal with the new customers that any marketing campaign brings in. People expect that level of attention, and they’ll leave you in order to get it.
- Monitor production carefully. Make sure you have enough product available for new customers to buy. If you have insufficient inventory, your viral campaign can’t help you increase sales. What’s worse, delaying order fulfilment could damage your business. When American nursing products supplier ABENA [PDF] placed products on back order on a regular basis, clients switched to other suppliers. Managing the supply chain properly allowed this company to get back on track. If you’re aiming for viral success, you’ll need to do this kind of deep planning, too.
If you’re thinking all of that sounds like a lot of work, you’re absolutely right. You’ll also want to plan for the added costs and risks involved (you know, in case your marketing campaign doesn’t go as viral as you’d hoped).
Does this mean that a viral marketing campaign, or social media marketing in general, isn’t worth it? Quite the contrary. Today, all of us are carrying social media around everywhere we go. We use it to see what our friends are saying, what people we trust are sharing. And when they’re sharing a branded video, you better believe we’ll see that brand. If you’re a small business owner, making sure that brand is yours can potentially lead to a level of attention you’d never previously dreamed of.