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Viral marketing is a fairly new medium, and lots of people are making mistakes. Before you launch a campaign that doesn’t produce or taints your brand, remember viral marketing can be difficult, and it pays to learn the basics before you launch a campaign on your own. In the spirit of helping you and your company succeed, today we will review 3 common mistakes made by viral beginners and give you some advice on how to avoid them.

1 – Alienating Your Audience

Alienating your audience is a common viral mistake. People want to get noticed and may cross the line with hopes that no one will take offense. Go too far, however, and your plan will backfire.viral-marketing

Let’s look at a fairly recent Motrin viral ad. The company’s intent was to demonstrate the fashionable trend of carrying one’s child is hard on a mother’s back, and that Motrin can be used to alleviate the pain. It sounds innocent enough, but an online community of mothers resented the suggestion that they were carrying their babies around as fashion accessories. What happened? The ad received tons of negative feedback and damaged the Motrin brand.

The lesson here is to keep the consumer in mind, no matter what. While this rule may seem elementary, it is violated time and time again by marketers new and old. Don’t be one of them.

2 – Failing to Associate your Brand with the Message

viral-marketingMeasuring the success of a viral campaign is complicated. Traditional ROI models simply don’t apply. Goals of viral campaigns vary, but may include things like page views, comments, sign-ups, and trackbacks, none of which directly equate to dollars. At the same time, just because a message goes viral does not mean the campaign was a success.

Because of these factors, the main goal of any viral campaign is brand awareness, and the benefit of branding virally is the potential impact of reaching scores of people in a very short period…but you must do it right. This means making sure your viral content is in line with your brand equity.

There have been recent campaigns, like this one from Gatorade, that went viral but still failed because advertisers neglected to associate the content with the brand, and the brand gained little traction. Learn from Gatorade’s mistake and your chances of viral success dramatically improve.

3 – Making a TV Commercial, Not a Viral Videobilly_oxyclean

Many beginners tend to believe any video can go viral, and in theory, this may be true. While there are commercials that have gone viral, if you try to go viral with your own, odds are it won’t work. This is because people don’t like commercials! Moreover, with the popularity of TiVo and DVR, audiences are used to skipping commercials entirely.

The lesson here? Make sure your video pulls the audience in and compels them to watch. You can create stakes with humor, shock, or a tug on the heart strings. This Dove commercial went viral because it tugged on the emotional chords of the viewers. No matter what you do, however, give your viral video an interesting angle or risk being simply ignored.

Creating a viral marketing campaign is not as easy as uploading a video on YouTube. Be mindful of these three viral pitfalls and you’ll be three steps closer to a winning campaign.

If you have further questions about viral marketing, please email our Viral Marketing Team at viral@wpromote.com


5 thoughts on “3 Common Viral Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
  1. Stupid cartoon. Anthrax is caused by bacteria, not viruses!

  2. Amanda Moshier says:

    Great insight, Jesse! Looking forward to your next post!

  3. Kronis says:

    Great post, it is always better to learn from other people’s mistakes!

  4. Mike Stone says:

    Fantastic post. Now please make this go viral.

  5. It is amazing to see how the video responses also is active in the viral part of the “campaign”, and some of the videos have enough views to be considered a success for most viral campaigns.

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