April 3, 2014 E3

Successful Viral Marketing: Are You Prepared For The Spotlight?

There are millions of pieces of content uploaded to the internet every single day. And there are millions of people hoping that those videos, blog posts, infographics, and articles go viral, generating instant buzz and overnight celebrity status. But only a few content creators are able to achieve a true viral campaign. Successful viral marketing can be a boon for brands, but only if your business is prepared to handle sudden spikes in traffic and a flood of telephone calls. You must plan in advance to be able to capitalize on a successful viral marketing campaign.

Successful Viral Marketing Preparedness Checklist

If you get caught unprepared to handle the attention, your efforts could end up having a negative effect on your business. It can be difficult to plan for successful viral marketing, because you never quite know when a piece of content is going to take off.  That’s why it’s best to always be alert and ready, in case today is your day.

In order to ready yourself for viral attention, we’ve developed a quick checklist to help you prepare:

  1. Server and bandwidth capacity. Your servers must be ready to handle a sudden onslaught of website traffic. Successful viral content will inevitably direct hundreds of thousands of new visitors to your site, and it’s important that they be able to get through. If new visitors get an error message, you’ll lose critical views. If you’re planning a viral launch, your infrastructure must be able to support the increased attention.
  2. Telephone support. Successful viral marketing leads to telephone calls. Some may be about new business, but many will be local or even national press people calling to find out more about your content, your message, and you. It can disrupt operations for several days or even several weeks after the fact. You will need to have a telephone plan ready to go.  And not answering the phone is a bad idea. You may be tempted to rip all of the cords out of the walls when the phone is ringing off the hook, but it’s critical to address every inquiry in order to squeeze the most benefit from your content.
  3. Engagement. You and your staff must be ready to engage with blog and social media commenters. If you can’t foster new relationships from your viral launch, it will not be successful. Even small businesses must be prepared with all-hands-on-deck to manage engagement.  It is important not to block or respond negatively to rude or less-than-positive comments. Commenters can be very cruel, but if you respond poorly to criticism, you’ll end up attracting even more negative attention. Always be polite, and don’t let internet trolls take away your viral mojo.
  4. Inventory. If your successful viral marketing campaign is centered on selling products, you need to be sure that you have enough inventory on hand to manage an influx of new orders. If you attract thousands of new buyers but you can’t fill their orders, none of those people will come back for more. Worse, it can damage your business in the long run. If you run out of product, you won’t just alienate new customers, but your loyal customers will be forced to go elsewhere, as well.
  5. Site Design. Your website must be built in a way that new visitors can find exactly what they need when they land there. That is good advice 365 days of the year, but it’s even more critical in the aftermath of a successful viral marketing launch. Be sure all of your newsletter and free content sign-up boxes are functional and easy to use, and that visitors can easily connect to your social media profiles from all pages.
  6. Be ready for second waves. And third. And fourth. Viral content has a way of cycling up and down as it makes its rounds across the web. You could have an immediate surge, followed by a lull, only to have a new surge a few days, or even a few weeks later.
  7. Capitalize on referral traffic. It can be important to know where your traffic is coming from after your launch. Visit sites that are referring visitors, as there could be public discussion going on about your content. You’ll want to weigh in, always staying positive. There could be valuable relationship-building opportunities on these other websites.
  8. Be ready with follow-up content. The best way to be a one-hit viral wonder is to not have follow-up content ready to go. Dollar Shave Club is one of the best examples of a successful viral marketing launch. They followed up their first sensational video with a second – it didn’t get nearly as much attention as the first, but it kept people interested as the company secured new customers.

Successful viral marketing can elevate your brand, deliver new website visitors, and increase sales, but only if you’re prepared to handle the attention. You can’t develop or deliver viral content without having a plan in place to deal with the limelight and leverage your successful viral marketing campaign into something bigger.

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