No matter how great your next product is, it won’t sell to a single customer if no one knows it exists.
Of course, the more people you can market your product to, the better your chances of dramatically increasing sales. That’s why making a product go viral has become such a popular goal for marketers.
When that happens, potential customers from all over the world share your product with even more potential customers, maximizing your reach — and doing so for free.
Obviously, that would be incredible, especially if you can make your products go viral again and again. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be as daunting a task as it often sounds. Instead, just follow these five steps to leverage viral marketing for your next product.
1. Clarify your product’s practical value.
Products that go viral are often carried there by marketing campaigns that are fun, engaging and unique. However, there’s a misconception out there that creating an entertaining video or social media post is all it takes.
I’ve found that products that receive the most attention from viral marketing have practical value, and their marketing campaigns prove it.
In my opinion, one of the all-time best online marketing campaigns has been Blendtec’s “Will It Blend?” YouTube channel. For more than 10 years, the channel regularly featured videos of Blendtec kitchen blenders taking apart everything from laser pointers to iPhones, earning hundreds of millions of views. While much of the attention came from people who simply want to see these crazy videos, this marketing campaign was successful because it demonstrated just how powerful the brand’s blenders are.
2. Make sure your product stands out.
Another important way to prepare for your product’s viral moment in the sun is by making sure that once it’s there, it stands out from the crowd. Something as simple as the color scheme you choose for your product could help it draw attention when customers use it in the real world.
Apple has always been extremely adept at this. From the iconic logo on their laptops to the design of AirPods — the white pods popped against the industry’s standard black earphones. It’s pretty clear when someone nearby is enjoying one of their products. This kind of “social proof” helps influence others to become Apple users.
So, prepare for real-world exposure, as well. People should see your viral marketing campaign and notice the popularity of your product in public, too.
3. Build up your social media following.
When researchers looked at the phenomenon of products going viral, they found that “in the age of social media, electronic word of mouth (eWOM) has become a powerful source of social influence and virality, ‘the holy grail of digital marketing.’”
In short, your product isn’t going viral without social media. So, if you don’t already have a social media following, start there. If you do have one, take some time to add to your follower count even more. In fact, you can even do this in tandem with promoting your new product.
For example, you could tell your followers, “Everyone who follows us by September 31 will get first access to our new product and 10% off.” Keep pushing that message as that launch date approaches to increase your initial orders and the amount of exposure your product gets.
4. Incentivize sharing.
Building an army of social media followers will pay off in a big way come launch day, but that’s not the goal here. The goal is for your launch to go viral so you can capture as much market share as possible. Do this by mobilizing that army to share information about your product far and wide.
One way to do so is by taking that previous message and adjusting it: Anyone who shares your social media post about the upcoming product will receive 10% off. Now, you’re locking in more potential purchases and spreading the word about your brand new product.
You can also use good old-fashioned giveaways to accomplish something similar. For example, you could tweet a link to a YouTube video that promotes your yet-to-be-released product. Let your followers know that everyone who follows your account and retweets that tweet will be in a drawing to receive the product for free.
5. Give people more than a product to share.
Another really important way to incentivize sharing is to create a social media post that features more than just your product. Most people aren’t going to share an ad for a product simply because they really like it (unless you incentivize them per the last tip).
Ensuring you highlight the practical value of the product is still vital, but give them another reason, too. Make the post tug at heartstrings or provoke laughter.
For proof of how powerful this tactic can be, consider Dollar Shave Club. People likely didn’t share that first ad because they were excited about $1 razors. Plenty of women shared it who would never become customers. The ad went viral because it was shared by millions of people who thought it was hilarious and wanted to show their friends.
Look for that extra angle, and people will have one more reason to make your product go viral.
It’s Never Been More Important to Go Viral
As competition continues to heat up among companies online, getting products to go viral has never been more important. In my opinion, it’s the best possible way to leave competitors behind and engage brand new customers.
Even better, going viral just once can have compounding effects. All of those new customers could become repeat customers and help spread the word about other products you offer.
So, take this opportunity seriously by treating it like a priority. Use the five steps above to make your next product go viral, and you’ll be in a better position to watch your market grow.