viral marketing initiativesUnderstanding that relationships fuel social media success, and that when there is a human connection to a marketing message, that message is more liable to be conveyed to many. In order for a marketing initiative to go viral there must be a human connection, or an emotional bond that is forged when this message is conveyed.  If marketers focus on the end result of deriving an emotion from the message, then the marketing funnel is likely to be filled with interested, loyal consumers.

While reading Berger and Milkman (2011,) there is a strong belief that when a marketing message touches upon human emotion there is a relationship between “emotion and social transmission.”  Also that positive content will become more viral than negative content according to the results of their study.  Basically, controversial content can go viral, however, people want to feel good, they want to smile, they want to say “ahh.”  When a positive content goes viral brands can expect that “59% of people report that they frequently share online content with others (Allsop, Bassett, and Hoskins 2007), and someone tweets a link to a New York Times story once every four seconds (Harris 2010,) (Berger and Milkman, 2011.) Think of a a positive message as a seed that is planted and the result of that seed is a blooming flower.  This leads to one of the characteristics of the most successful marketing messages according to the Global Good Group: “A viral campaign will only spread if people are interested in sharing it. One of the best ways of accomplishing this is to get influential members of a social group to endorse the message. For example, if you are making a viral campaign targeted to football fans, then having it endorsed by a big football personality can get the ball rolling.”  Seeds are necessary to making a marketing campaign go viral.

Content that consumers can share that adds value to their lives (good restaurants, coupons with financial savings) provide benefits that make a person feel as if they have obtained information that will enhance their lives. From this perspective, on a psychological level emotion shapes vitality and videos like ‘Gangnam Style” or “The Harlem Shake” offer a high level of participation as well (the feeling of being a part of something bigger and more fun than themselves.)

These videos went viral because “they are relatively simple videos and dance moves that can be easily recreated and uploaded by thousands of people,” (Mastro, 2013.)

A viral message should be funny, cute, participatory or controversial (however, keep in mind negative messages have less chance of going viral than a positive one.)  Another  characteristic of a successful viral marketing campaign is “action.”  Notice these characteristics all have the underlying root to a human emotion.  Emotions are powerful, yet difficult to capture.  However, if a brand has the goal of making a person laugh, cry, or do something, as opposed to that goal being to sell a product, then something amazing happens. That marketing campaign will take on another life, develop a different path and while on its journey to virality, millions of people will experience it or want to experience it and search the internet to find out what others are talking about.  That’s what a good viral marketing initiative does; it causes others to want to know what everyone else is so interested in.  It’s like being on the outside of a large crowd, you want to get to the front of the crowd to see what all the excitement is about. Viral marketing success is at the center of what others are looking at.