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There are so many things on the internet these days. Everyone is pushing their own agenda, opinion, etsy store or dog video, so in a sea of endless content, how do you make your message standout from the crowd? To create successful ‘viral’ or ‘shareable’ content, you must have the following three ingredients:
- A message
- An emotion
- A connection
These three ingredients create content that is appealing to an online audience and makes that piece of content relatable, and therefore, shareable - increasing the chances of it going viral.
Before starting any campaign, you must have a strong idea of the message you are trying to convey and you need to have a clear plan of how to you are going to execute the project from the beginning to end. Research by the New York Times found that 19.4% of viewers will close a video in the first 10 seconds and that 44.1% of viewers will leave in the first 60 seconds. Therefore, you need to catch people’s interest immediately: put your most interesting and attention-grabbing bit of information first and shape the rest of the video around that piece, creating a sense of storytelling.
Emotion is needed in a piece of content so that you can establish a connection with the audience and they can relate with the message you are delivering. For example, I attended the PR Newswire info session on The Future of PR which featured the “#LikeAGirl” campaign run by female sanitary brand, Always, showed how girls before and after puberty reacted to the phrase “#LikeAGirl”. It found that for those girls who had gone through puberty and had low confidence, they associated the phrase with negative traits or not being able to complete a task as well as males in their age group. By comparison, girls under the age of 11 didn’t see it as a negative at all – they viewed the phrase to mean “give it all you’ve got”. The campaign was successful and went viral because it changed the older girls’ perspective, changed the narrative about puberty and invoked inspiration. It showed that if you control the outcome of the emotion you want to invoke, it will start a conversation.
The final step to a successful viral video campaign is connection. You cannot have connection without the other two ingredients - a message and emotion - but connection is still a separate and important aspect. People come together through mutual experiences and beliefs. Connection is about finding an issue that a lot of people can relate to and support. It doesn’t have to be a cause such as climate change or a political issue, it can be as simple as adorable dogs or cute cats. It just has to be relatable.
You never really know when you’re going to create a viral campaign. Indeed, the goal when creating content is not to go viral, it’s to show your who you and your company is - going viral is simply a bonus. However, by incorporating these three ingredients into your next video, blog post or socials, you increase your chances that it will get a large number of views and shares and a substantial amount of brand awareness.