PR Daily: How to go viral? No set formula, but some key ingredients

This post is courtesy of PR Daily.
The word “viral” has lately gone, well, viral.

Every day, a tweet, photo, or video goes from having six hits to receiving hundreds of thousands of views or more. Shareable content is a convenient way to get your company’s message or product viewed by audiences all over the world and the power of the share/tweet/pin button should not be taken lightly.

About 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, so not every video breaks through. Make sure your video stands out.

Take, for example, the video recently splattered on our Facebook and Twitter feeds showing a family of four rapping their year-in-review message in a holiday greeting card called “Xmas Jammies.” In a matter of days, the video has been seen by more than 7 million sets of eyes.

http://youtu.be/2kjoUjOHjPI

So, what did this family do right? What made this three-and-a-half-minute video more engaging than the next? There is no single element to make shareable content attractive to viewers, but there are steps your company can take to ensure your brand gains some level of traction.

Stay relevant

What topics are in the news? Which trends are gaining the most buzz?

Stay on top of the issues and stories people are frequently talking about, and insert your video, photo, or thought appropriately. However, don’t whip something together for the sake of joining the conversation; make sure you add substance and contribute to the theme.

Also, be cautious not to gain exposure for the wrong reasons. Don’t view a sensitive news story as a way to exploit attention for your company.

Humor is crucial

Bazaar Voice found 90 percent of people trust online recommendations from people they know.

For example, how many times do you see a friend post a video on social media with the words, “This is hilarious!”? You would probably open it only because it is your friend and you’re friends for a reason—you share similar interests—and chances are you’ll watch that video or at least be curious about it.

Keep your audience in mind

Whatever idea or product you are promoting, keep in mind who you want to be watching. Think about what they want to see and when they want to see it. What a 59-year-old male mechanic finds interesting isn’t the same thing a 20-year-old female hipster would want to watch.

Home in on what your ideal consumer would find appealing, and let your creative juices flow.

Tugging the heartstrings

WestJet isn’t necessarily the first name that comes to mind when one think of airlines, but after the company uploaded a heartwarming and innovative video, its name became plastered all over the Internet.

The airline had its passengers tell Santa Claus via webcam what they wanted for Christmas and while they were on the flight, WestJet “elves” scattered to purchase the desired gifts and distributed them at baggage claim.

Don’t be afraid to use various holidays as your inspiration and anticipate widely shared experiences—e.g., seasonal festivities, the Super Bowl, a presidential election. WestJet’s video was perfect for the holiday season and a great way to promote a positive identity for the brand.

Offering something to your audience that can be shared or commented on will give you access to brand ambassadors you normally may have not been able to reach otherwise. You’ll be surprised how many people (other than your mom) share your message.

Liz Glazier is an account coordinator at Fineman PR. A version of this story originally appeared on the agency’s blog.

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