Viral videos have many different characteristics. For example, some are funny and make you laugh, while others are confusing and leave you asking yourself…what was that? Others are intelligent tutorials that allow its viewers to learn and grow in a more scholarly fashion. Whichever marketing initiative you prefer, they each have different traits they allow them to capture the publics attention and drive people to want to share it with their friends and contacts.
The five most important characteristics of a viral marketing initiative are content, emotion, the wow-factor, interactions, and controversy. The content does not necessarily have to be about current events, but it does have to speak to a group(s). If the topic does not appeal to anyone, especially the people it was intended for or targeted towards, the chances are that your reader or viewer will not share the content and therefore it will have little hope of becoming ‘viral’. Content that is surprising, humorous, shocking, or controversial seems to be the most likely to be shared. Ultimately, the only way for a campaign to become viral is for most viewers to aggressively share it through as many different mediums as possible, particularly through email, web posting, and social media.
(Dooley Media, 2013)
Emotion is another characteristic that is a key component to viral campaigns because everyone has the potential to feel emotion. In general, I find that people want to share their experiences both good and bad. Content that elicits an emotional response, whether positive or negative, is more likely to be shared. For example, social media is inundated with emotionally charged postings. People seem to post about how much they hate Friday traffic or how great/terrible their birthday gifts were. An advertising campaign can take advantage of users who are already emotionally invested in social media. Consumers who have strong feelings towards a product, service, person or place are sure to pass this information on. Viral marketing takes this a step further and seeks to invoke such a strong emotional response that the user will not only remember the content, but will share it. The link below is an example of a viral marketing video that seeks to draw on an emotional response by featuring a ‘battle of the sexes’ type challenge between men and women. The video, filled with celebrity cameos, shows individuals joining a running challenge while advertising Nike products. The campaign also drives viewers to the Nike website in order to get them to join the challenge.
While feeling any type of emotion is important to a viral campaign, the wow-factor is significant as well. Grabbing the attention of viewers with seemingly impossible or incredible footage is sure to generate discussions and lead to sharing of the content. A lot of videos that go viral are different from anything its viewers have seen, hence why they share them with friends. Sometimes these campaigns involve incredible athletic feats or rare natural events. The recent AT&T ad campaign featured a high school football player doing a flip over an opponent is a great example of this, even though it was later identified as fake (Edwards, 2012). Not only do viewers watch viral videos once, they watch it, listen to it and/or read it over and over again for entertainment. Another example of a video that makes you stare at the screen with your mouth open is the video OK Go – Here It Goes Again. This is different, technically challenging, and ridiculous all at the same time.
(OK Go )
Controversy causes people to talk and share content. There isn’t always a positive outcome, but if your purpose it to capture attention and stay relevant, controversy is often a successful means to do so. However, of the components important to viral campaigns, this is the most dangerous. In these situations, while the material may become viral, it can lead to consumer action and sentiment against the company or product. More so than many of the other factors, controversial videos are continuously talked about, posted, emailed, and shared. Controversial campaigns don’t have to be negative. For example, Cheerios seemed to unintentionally create a controversial commercial by featuring an inter-racial family. This advertisement initially received negative attention from those criticizing the depicted family, but was then overrun with positive reactions and support. There were so many comments on both sides that while the video is still featured on YouTube, the comment section has been disabled (Cheerios, 3013). This commercial continues to be discussed on talk shows, such as the View, and news broadcasts.
Finally, another quite important characteristic to implement into a viral campaign is interaction. Producing a campaign that allows users to participate in it will further increase the chances that they will share it. Many campaigns simplistically focus on giving away prizes for sharing, tweeting, liking, or posting their content. However, an alternative strategy is to have users re-create the campaign with their own video or photo content. This adds a level of personalization and drives users to want to share their version of the Call Me Maybe, the Harlem Shake, Tebowing, or Dufnering. The ability to link something like this to a company or product will not only lead users to share it, but many will want to watch the funny version that others create. It is also quite important that the users can easily share the content. Embedding the functionality to quickly and seamlessly ‘like’, Tweet, share, post, review, etc. is critical. Interactions can keep the content relevant, discussed, and keep the consumer linked to the campaign.
Ultimately, there is not a clear formula for creating a viral marketing campaign. It is often the unintentional news footage, blooper, or independently produced content that rapidly spreads through the various electronic media. However, ensuring that campaigns include at least some of these five important characteristics (content, emotion, the wow-factor, interactions, and controversy) will increase the likelihood of successfully producing content that will be disseminated rapidly and thoroughly at little expense to the company.
Cheerios. (3013, May). Just Checking. Retrieved 2013, from YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYofm5d5Xdw
Dooley Media. (2013). Content Creation and Distribution . Retrieved 2013, from Dooley Media: http://www.dooleymedia.com/services/content-creation-and-distribution/
Edwards, J. (2012, November 04). That AT&T Video Of A High School Football Player Doing A Flip Over An Opponent Is FAKE. Retrieved from Business Insider: http://www.businessinsider.com/att-video-of-high-school-football-flip-is-fake-2012-11
Nike. (n.d.). Nike Men vs Women Challenge Ad. Retrieved 2013, from YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPjrPlfipPQ
OK Go . (n.d.). OK Go – Here It Goes Again. Retrieved 2013, from YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTAAsCNK7RA
Partly because I am from New England, I will never be a loyal Starbucks ‘fan’. The northeastern United States is saturated with Dunkin’ Donuts (DD) stores, so much so that you can find one on nearly every corner. They have since expanded across the country with nearly 7,000 stores and are present in 36 states (Dunkin’ Donuts). Starbucks, whose initial store was opened in Seattle, has similarly expanded throughout the United States and internationally (Starbucks). While I enjoy their specialty coffees on occasion, I am a Dunkin’ Donuts advocate at heart. These two companies both do a great job when it comes to social media. However, one definitely has a stronger and more active presence.
Dunkin’ Donuts (DD) has a strong presence on many popular social media sites, such as Facebook where customers can become their “Fan of the Week”. This is where fans of the DD page can submit a photograph of someone drinking or eating a DD product. Selected photographs are entered into a contest and are featured in Times Square in New York, literately under the bright lights in the big city. Fun contests like this allow customers to interact with others customer while engaging them with the brand and company. DD is also on YouTube, where commercials and videos from customers and staff members are uploaded for entertainment and learning purposes. On Twitter you can find out about new menu items, win contests, and see what other followers prefer to eat and drink at DD. The most informative social media tool that I found was the Dunkin’ Blog. Here is where I found out about DD’s new gluten free donuts and muffins, complete menu offerings, specials, nutrition facts, charity work and foundation involvement.
Overall DD does a great job of utilizing social media to engage their customer base and advance their strategic goals. However, their social media outreach doesn’t focus on new customers with incentives to join, follow, or fan their company. It appears that their social media strategy aims more to strengthen the brand loyalty of their existing customers through engagement rather than seek to identify and attract new customers. The DD social media presence does little to differentiate themselves from their competition and appears to focus more on retaining current consumers.
Starbucks seems to take a different approach. While DD has a somewhat smaller social media base that seems to focus on existing customers, Starbucks has experienced rapid growth and has a huge social media presence where their Facebook page has 34million’likes’ compared to DD 9.9 million (Dunkin’ Donuts) (Starbucks). Their presence is so strong that they were recently named the most socially engaged company in the United States by the research firm PhaseOne (Benson, 2012). Their presence on Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook and their blogging site highlight their large and constantly evolving food and drink menus. On each site, you can receive a free or discounted product by registering with or following them. In addition, they encourage their customers to try new products with other promotions that offer free or discounted products during certain time periods or on certain days. Further strengthening their presence, Starbucks had the fastest response time amongst all companies whose social media involvement was evaluated (Benson, 2012). Starbucks uses social media to focus on those key aspects of their business that differentiate them from their competition; namely, their environmental, fair trade, and organic commitments. This corporate principle is strongly highlighted throughout all facets of their social media presence.
Starbucks is clearly leading the way in their social media initiatives and is successfully using these outlets to expand the brand, recruit new customers, and to differentiate them from the competition. Starbucks creates an active community using many online platforms.
In conclusion, while both Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks both have active social media campaigns, Starbucks has clearly been more successful in utilizing these means to expand their brand, gain a large following, and to differentiate themselves from their peers.
Benson, L. (2012, 03 29). CincyBizBlog. Retrieved from Cincinnati Business Courier: http://www.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/blog/2012/03/social-madness-tops-in-social-media.html
Dunkin’ Donuts. (n.d.). Company Snapshot. Retrieved 06 2013, from Dunkin’ Donuts: http://www.dunkindonuts.com/content/dunkindonuts/en/company.html
Dunkin’ Donuts. (n.d.). Dunkin’ Donuts. Retrieved 06 2013, from Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DunkinDonutsUS
Starbucks. (n.d.). Our Heritage. Retrieved 06 2013, from Starbucks: http://www.starbucks.com/about-us/our-heritage
Starbucks. (n.d.). Starbucks. Retrieved 06 2013, from Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Starbucks
I have experienced so many new things down here, the Georgia Mountains, the beautiful weather, new friends and the charming lakes in the area. Lately I have been experiencing the country life. It’s funny how close the country is to the city down here. About 40 minutes east of my house, is a 1,000-acre private hunting, fishing, and outdoors club called the Burge Plantation. I recently spent the weekend there for my husband’s department retreat. Family owned since 1809, the character of this massive space is like nothing I have ever seen. There are so many activities and beautiful views to take in. The plantation also offers skeet shooting, hunting, a dining facility, a museum, farming and cabins to stay the night in.
On another recent weekend, I travelled north to the Blue Ridge Mountains to spend a weekend away with some friends. About two hours away, this area was absolutely beautiful. It was the perfect place to get away to and while there was much less to do, that was exactly what we were looking for. We relaxed in the hot tub, cooked big meals, played pool, cards and board games. We brought our dogs along with us as well. It was great to be able to leave the door of the cabin open all weekend and just let them roam freely. I’m pretty sure that they enjoyed themselves more than we did.
While I have always thought of myself as a city girl, I have really enjoyed getting away and exploring the country. There are limits to my adventurousness though…I still don’t think I could be convinced to stay in a tent!
What in the world is the Chomp and Stomp? Last weekend I found out when I went to the 10th annual Chomp and Stomp in the Atlanta neighborhood of Cabbagetown. It was my first time attending this festival and it definitely lived up to all the hype I’ve been hearing for years. Chomp and Stomp is a huge Chili and Bluegrass festival.
The festivities at the Chomp and Stomp include a 5k road race, a chili cook off, live bluegrass music all day, art booths, lots of food, and, of course, plenty of adult beverages. Now, full disclosure, I did not run or even walk the 5k , but I did show up for all of the other activities!
When you enter the festival, you pay $5 for a spoon. You hold on to this spoon until they run out of chili or until you can’t breath because you’re so full. The festival takes place over several blocks with hundreds of booths. Once you have your spoon, it’s time to start eating. You are free to wander around and wait in line for your favorite restaurant’s chili. The main street is called “Restaurant Row” and is full of booths from just over 30 local restaurants that are taking part in the chili cook off contest. Each restaurant gives you a small cup of what they consider, the best chili in the south. Some were vegetarian, chicken, pork, beef, some were white, red, brown, but they were definitely all delicious. Because they were lined up on a street, the people that live on this street really don’t have a choice but to participate. There were local bands playing on people’s porches, corn hole tournaments, and lines that went on for days. This was by far the most crowed street to hang out on. These people definitely had found the most creative way to make margaritas…that blender is running on pedal power!
The next two streets were where all of the amateur chefs were spooning out their best homemade chili. These booths compete with the restaurants to see who makes the best…and while I thought chili was a type of food that you could not make taste bad…I was WAY wrong. Soon after making it to the second street, I had to call it quits (yes, some were that terrible). There were, however, lots of different styles of chili and many different and exotic ingredients. It was an interesting taste experience.
Once we had our fill and were ready to retire our chili spoons, it was time to find a spot in the park to lay out our blanket and listen to some bluegrass music. There was a large stage and bands played all day and into the night. On the streets surrounding the park, were all of the traditional festival food booths with funnel cakes, corn dogs, and barbeque. This is also were all of the food and beer trucks were located. This was a perfect spot to sit down, relax, and digest…
After relaxing and catching up with friends while enjoying the music, we spent some time walking around the rest of the festival where there were lots of booths to look at and buy local arts and crafts. These booths had everything from paintings, photography, hand made soaps, and wine bottle sculptures.
For a November weekend, the weather was perfect with the temperature in the low 70s and the sun was out all day. It was a great day to find out what the Chomp and Stomp was all about!
Wild Oats and Billy Goats support young Atlanta artists. My niece was chosen to represent her elementary school!
Congratulations on your first art show Stella!