Viral content is the proverbial “pot of gold,” coveted by everyone engaged in online marketing.
But what are the odds of the little guy doing it?
When global brands go viral, it's not a huge surprise.
They have agencies & marketing teams standing by to handle
every situation when a campaign goes viral.
Can a small brand still hit on marketing gold by mistake?
Here is a look at 5 brands that went viral and how they handled it afterward.
HouseholdHacker is a YouTube channel and website that posts videos of various "hacks", or quick solutions,
to common everyday problems. As of April 2017, the channel has 4.6 million subscribers and over 668 million views.
The group is primarily known for its 2007 hoax video which claimed one could charge an iPod battery using an onion and Gatorade. The video fooled normally reliable sources, and drew the attention of the MythBusters among others.
The video, which claimed to demonstrate how one could recharge an iPod using little more than Gatorade and a white onion, was an overnight success. The video drew the attention of The Unofficial Apple Weblog, which reported it as fact.
Within its first week, the video had been viewed over 4 million times.
The success took the channel by storm and landed the video with over 10 million views.
The Household Hacker setup for charging an iPod
By the following November, the video had been viewed more than 7 million times
(currently over 10 million) and attracted the attention of ABC News, who asked
"Can an Onion Charge an iPod?" ABC put the video to the test, but failed to obtain the promised result. Reporter Emily Friedman remarked "this appears to be an iFraud.
The iPod onion video fooled a number of normally savvy folks, or at least had them
trying the technique out for themselves, which has led to several theories as to
why it was so appealing. Anna Solana of La Vanguardiaspeculated that
it was the "science" itself that attracted the viewers, remarking that
something so magical "freaks" people out and makes them want to believe.
Ten years after The HOAX video HouseHoldHacker is stronger then ever
with over 668 million views and multiple videos with over 20 million views.
Visits on Dr. Oz. Leno and Conan to name a few never hurt either.
2. Old Spice.
Back around 2010 Old Spice’s original “Questions” campaign racked up more than
25 million views overall. What were they doing?
This had never been done in the advertising space and it spurred tons of imitators.
The originality is resonant, and it fit perfectly with YouTube’s demographics.
The video itself had a little bit of everything,
and was hilarious to its target demographics (i.e., millennials), so it’s only natural
that they wanted to share it with their friends.
3. ALSA (The Ice Bucket Challenge)
One of the most successful viral campaigns of all time is the ALSA Ice Bucket Challenge.
When you have Justin Bieber, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill Gates with other celebrities
dumping buckets of ice over their heads how don't you go viral?
The campaign had raised more than $220 million for ALS organizations worldwide.
Awareness of the disease rose and it reached the fifth most popular Google search for all of 2014.
One of the thousands of videos
Key Takeaway They Looked Outside Their Target Audience
By shooting outside of their target demographic and trying alternative marketing
tactics (video) that might normally take a backseat to more traditional fundraising
efforts(galas, email marketing, etc … ) A.L.S.A. was able to bring in millions in
one-time donations,raise brand awareness, and gain an overall contribution baseline
of 25 percent. I'd say that's enough incentive to shake things up in your next campaign.
4. Remember James Frey (A Million Little Pieces) On the Oprah Show?
Frey had an explosive product launch in 2005. His book, A Million Little Pieces
was catapulted to overnight success after being named on Oprah's television book club.
Two million copies were sold. It topped the New York Times Best Seller list for
15 straight weeks and was published in 28 languages by 30 different publishers
all over the world.
Just months afterwards it was revealed that his memoir was more fiction than fact.
Frey was dropped from his publishing house and he was hit with lawsuits from many readers.
Takeaway It's Never Too Late to Refresh Your Brand
Frey still writes books, Even Oprah apologized for how she turned on him so suddenly.
While he enjoys renewed success, Frey maintains a life decidedly out of the spotlight.
The lesson here? make sure your marketing isn't full of lies, and be
prepared to stand by your content.
It's also never too late to reinvent yourself and still have a successful career,
even after a bad viral moment.
5.Dollar Shave Club
Talk about EPIC! At 1st I didn't get it OK so a subscription shaving service?, "
But with a single video, DSC flawlessly spoke to shaver pain points, and
announced to the world that they were ready to shake up a previously forgettable industry
They shoot the video in a single day for less than $4,500. It crashed the company's
servers 90 minutes after it went live and catapulted the company to become the
second-largest men's razor seller in America.
Viral Best Practice: Don't Be Afraid to laugh at Yourself
With over 22 million times, a 1.1 million subscribers and growing.
They earned a $615 million valuation in 2015, and in 2016 they were acquired
by Unilever for $1 billion dollars cash.
It's nearly impossible to know what will go viral, and trying will
usually come across as forced and uncomfortable.
Research your target audience and figure out how to expand that audience,
and create campaigns that are thoughtful, actionable, and relevant.
Be prepared for the chaos that could follow. It's always smart to have
a PR plan in place should the worst (or the best) happen.
If you do have a hit don't expect the next video to be just as successful just
Continue to create content that your audience wants to see and stay consistent.
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