How To Up The Antics And Go Viral With Your Next Publicity Campaign

In my previous posts I introduced the concept of publicity stunts, and because this is a concept that has worked extraordinarily well for some companies and individuals, I thought I would discuss the concept further in depth.

Make sure you check out my previous posts first to get an understanding of publicity and publicity stunts:

Most companies employing this strategy to gain profile and publicity do so with the intention of creating a buzz and ideally having the resulting video going viral. This is the reasoning behind the concept.

Word Of Mouth Marketing

Word of mouth and referral have always been key deciding factors in our shopping and buying habits. We are more likely to see a particular movie based on what our friends and family think of it, as opposed to media reviews of it. Similarly, if we have heard from friends that they had an enjoyable time at a restaurant or holiday destination, we are more likely to go there to check it out ourselves.

Obviously, this concept works the other way too – if friends advise us against a product or service based on a bad experience they have had, we won’t be chancing our luck by giving it a try.

Word of mouth marketing is not a new concept at all – in fact, it was around long before any other advertising and marketing method. The way businesses became successful in years gone by was simply by being recommended around the locality they serviced.

Person A would come across their business, perhaps by chance or because they knew the business owner already, and then would talk about his/her experiences with Person B, who would go try it out. Then Person B would talk to Person C and perhaps Person D, neither of whom knew Person A or the business owner directly. They would try out the product and service and then each talk to an additional two or more people each. And so the word spread. This is really the most basic and most effective form of marketing.

It would seem that we have now come full circle. After having had varied results from the most high tech and expensive advertising and promotional methods, from cinema advertising to sponsoring of sports teams and fancy banners on popular websites, businesses and those in the industry are coming back to the most simple, and most effective form of marketing – word of mouth and referral.

Viral Marketing

Similarly, if you are happen across something funny or extraordinary, virtually anything that really gets your attention, it makes sense you will want to talk about what you experienced. This is basically the concept behind the really funny joke that landed in your inbox back in the early 2000s. You forwarded it to other like-minded friends, family and associates who were also just as likely to enjoy it.

The idea behind viral marketing involves businesses orchestrating an interesting, amusing or incredible situation, and then uploading it to YouTube, with the intention of it going viral – i.e. being spread via social media and email.

The Role Of Social Media Marketing In Viral Campaigns

Recently, a new social media marketing business, Social Media Marketing Ecademy, decided to punctuate its launch in Australia by conducting a humorous social experiment at a peak time in the Brisbane CBD, to demonstrate the impact of human beings’ desire to be ‘in’ on and follow trends.

They employed the services of popular local entertainer, social media personality and magician, Jay Jay. The stunt involved just a few people participating in a certain behavior and then observing how quickly passers-by follow suit – particularly when there is an element incorporated that they can recognize and identify with, such as the State of Origin (a popular annual sporting event).

Jay Jay and his team of actors wore State of Origin Queensland jerseys, and the prank took place on the State of Origin finals, so the upcoming game was top of mind locally. The result was an amusing collage of pedestrian traffic pointing to, taking video of and asking about something that virtually did not exist. Jay Jay’s social media followers and savvy newspaper readers (a front page story appeared the day before in a prominent city newspaper) knew the stunt was taking place in advance, so were able to be “in the know” and turn up to watch the comedy that transpired.

The business, Social Media Marketing Ecademy, decided to utilize viral marketing as a means of launching in Australia, because this method fits in well with their business methodology – teaching businesses how to incorporate social media into their marketing plan.

According to CEO, Max Collins, the aim of the Social Media Marketing Ecademy is to give people the technical skills and the ongoing strategy and management knowledge to effectively get started on social media marketing for their business or to build a personal brand. This is achieved through an easy to follow training format, offered either online or face-to-face with a trainer.

The resulting video quickly went viral, with the added bonus of two local city newspapers reporting on the amusing stunt.

http://youtu.be/qibhQNqYYko

Plan A Publicity Stunt To Go Viral

Here are some pointers to consider when planning a stunt to take viral:

  • Your budget is one of the most important deciding factors for your viral video. Obviously, the more money you have, the more actors/contributing services and products you can afford to incorporate, but remember that it is often the simple stunts that are the most effective.
  • Good sound quality and lighting are extremely important. If the viewer can’t make out the vision or sound on your recording, it is not likely to have the desired effect.
  • Use your common sense and stay within the laws. Creating a small public nuisance and surprise is one thing, but breaking the law is quite another. Do not encourage downright dangerous or illegal behavior online and attach it to your brand.

Begin with an open mind, be open to experimentation and be prepared for things to go wrong. This is supposed to be a fun exercise and if you find it too challenging and takes up too much time, it may not be the right publicity strategy for your business.

Kerry McDuling

About Kerry McDuling

Kerry McDuling is a publicist and Director of her own public relations and publicity consultancy McDuling PR and exposure speciality business, Stratosphere Me – building brands and developing profitable business opportunities for companies, authors, speakers, and entrepreneurs.

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13 Comments

  • I focus a lot on word of mount and its 100% important if you want your message to go viral. Just get creative and ideas will come to you.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

    • Thanks for the feedbak and you are right “on the money” there -word of mouth is definitely the most potent publicity tool!

  • I believe viral marketing is good for jokes, fail blogs, or celebrity news! I haven’t found that many “business” Youtube videos or blogs that go viral.

    The sad truth is that most people go online to play around and entertain themselves. I wish people would share more business information because then more people would start a business instead of applying for a job.

    Out of all the social media platforms, I think Facebook is the best chance of spreading business information fast! (That website shares everything you do..even when you sneeze!) Haha.

    • Hey Kent, thanks for the feedback. Yes, a very large percentage of activity online is for the purpose of entertainment as this is what we as an audience have come to expect. But what about if you could combine the two – provide information in an entertaining creative way!??

  • I hope one day to get word of mouth kicking off. I’m using PPC campaigns to try and achieve that.

  • [...] How To Up The Antics And Go Viral With Your Next Publicity Campaign [...]

  • With a headline containing the word ‘Antics’, I just had to comment:)

    Online antics don’t have to be offensive, or too much off the wall. Anything a little different and fun is fine.

    We’re all looking for information, that’s certain. It’s why there’s so much opportunity about. And blandness is boring. Your ‘antics’ – your individuality, is what will stand you out from the crowd.

    The gist of advice I got recently: “try to offend.” That’s because if everyone likes you, you’re not standing out. And something else I got told – decades ago – “make up your own category.”

    A great article – and sure to offend a few, too. Good antics!

    Anthony

    • Anthony, thanks for your feedback and glad you found the information useful. You are right -the key to being noticed is to be different. Look at Lady Gaga for example!

  • The exciting challenge is with viral is to take back and capture some of that opportunity that has been sanitised by bigger companies. As Black SEO Guy mentioned, creative ideas get exposure, but this doesn’t take much more than having the right people around you and the time to invest in a creative project – and its great fun.

    Businesses are the ones using viral successfully right now, and it has matured into a legitimate form of marketing (see Imperial Leather, Huggies) – If a soap company can do it, anyone can. Disclosure: I was on the creative and business team for the campaign above.

    • Thanks for the feedback Michael, some very good points. We can get useful information across in an entertaining way!

  • Word of mouth has got to be one of the best free traffic drivers. If the content is funny or shocking enough, the traffic will keep coming for a while.

    But with some niches, there really are not many publicity stunts that are apparent. That’s when you really have to dig deep into your creativity and find something really weird!

  • Word of mouth marketing can get a business tons of cash with very little cost. As they say, word of mouth doesn’t have a price but it can send you customers or drive them away.

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