The 5 Essential Strategies that Bring Online Viral Sensations to Life

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Article Takeaways:

  • Viral trends and how they affect brands
  • Online trends create memorable events
  • How these essential strategies bring brands to life

From the #10YearChallenge and Beyoncé’s #BeforeILetGoChallenge to the #BottleCapChallenge, viral sensations have resonated with hundreds of millions of social media users. The good news for brands is that they can capitalize on the excitement by bringing them to life.

Those that successfully activate online trends in a way that is clear and on-message have the opportunity to quickly elevate brand awareness and form lasting connections with consumers.

Here are five essentials that bring online trends to life:

1. Be Mindful of Message

Not every viral trend is right for a brand event. While many consumers “awwwed” over #BabyYoda or laughed at the “I’m going to tell my kids…” memes, these trends don’t necessarily lend themselves to company messaging. Brands must find online content that relates to their products or services.

When HBO launched a donation campaign for the American Red Cross, it tapped into online buzz around the final season of Game of Thrones. HBO added a call to action, asking fans to “bleed for the throne,” with a South by Southwest event as well as blood drives in 43 states.

2. Keep It Simple 

If you’re hoping to bring a viral trend to life, be sure the online content is simple and easy to understand. This will translate to clearer marketing and event planning.

Auto Sensory Meridian Response, or ASMR, videos became an overnight sensation in 2019, but this trend is more likely to put consumers to sleep – quite literally – than get them excited about your brand. Don’t forget, a simple photo of an egg on a white background broke the record for most likes on Instagram.

3. Make It Visual 

Brands should prioritize making the content and corresponding event marketing memorable and visual. Develop an event logo or graphic that clearly communicates the corresponding theme.

For example, emojis are a useful visual tool that have the power to resonate with social media users. The World Wildlife Fund launched an #EndangeredEmoji Twitter campaign that used animal emojis to raise awareness around endangered species. The campaign attracted more than half a million mentions and led to nearly 60,000 signups.

4. Identify a Strong Theme

The theme of the online campaign should match the tone of your brand’s marketing. If a company hopes to attract consumers and build positive connections, it’s best to stick to something aspirational or uplifting.

‘Surprise and delight’ is also a popular campaign strategy. When Taco Bell found out that residents of a small Alaskan town were disappointed by a prank announcement that a new location was opening, Taco Bell airlifted 10,000 tacos to the delight of local residents.

5. Prioritize Online Channels

It may seem obvious, but you can’t promote a live event based on an online trend without marketing it online. Plan a social media campaign to promote your event based on the channels and influencers the trend originated with.

To promote the Mi Box S, Xiaomi planned an event this December to bring 700 people together to break the world record for simultaneous unboxing. To market the event, which plays off the YouTube unboxing trend, the brand launched the #MiSteryBOX influencer campaign on YouTube, relying on electronics lovers and unboxing enthusiasts with an established following.

Bringing online trends to life is a great way to create memorable events that build on collective social engagement. In fact, more than 70% of consumers reported positive impressions of brands and products after experiential interactions. But don’t go after the first viral hashtag to sweep the internet next year. Take the time to find an appropriate theme and think through visuals, messaging and promotion to increase your brand’s chances of viral success.

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