Is Going Viral Really Profitable?
In a YouTube video that's been viewed over 37,000 times, Mark Ritson, a former marketing professor, calls social media marketing a waste of time. Just like Ritson, there are others who doubt the impact that social media trends have on product sales. They argue that likes, comments, and following don't directly translate to profit. But these views are wrong and backward; as we will show in this post, going viral on social media can be profitable to your company in three major ways.
1. Reaching a Larger Audience On a Small Budget.
How do you get your video ad seen by millions of target buyers without breaking the bank? How do you appear on CNBC, CNN, and Fortune Magazine without having deep pockets? Let's ask the Dollar Shave Club (DSC).
In 2012, the company found social media gold when it uploaded a YouTube video with CEO Michael Dublin introducing its flagship product in a funny, sarcastic manner. The video went platinum on social media, attracting millions of views and comments. The cost of video production? $4500.
Going viral on social media can do the same for you. It can bring attention to new campaigns for a product release, relaunch, upcoming event, or a business rebrand on a tight budget. Attention is the first part of any marketing funnel - people in your target audience need to know that you exist before they can make inquiries or buy. And viral marketing is a catalyst for attention and memorability.
But is it not rare for companies to hit a million views? It is. But one million views are not the benchmark for measuring what is or is not viral. If your target audience universe is small and niche, viral could mean 100,000 or even 10,000 views. What matters is how quickly the news spreads around the community (like a virus), getting everyone to stop and pay attention.
2. Increasing Engagement With Your Target Audience.
Viral content also gets a lot of comments, shares, new followers, email newsletter signups, and other forms of engagement. These reactions come from prospects, non-buyers who may buy in the future, and people who will never buy from you. Although the second group of people reacting are not your target buyers, they can still make great advocates.
This second group reacted to something they saw, read, or felt in the viral message. They may have fallen in love with your mission or method of operation and decided to follow your Facebook page or use your viral hashtag in a tweet. If they continue engaging with you after this, you may earn referrals and good PR.
Higher engagement can also improve your online advertising results. For example, you can target new Facebook followers from the viral campaign with a sales Ad. Since this audience has already shown an interest in your brand, they will likely react more positively to your Ads than a cold audience.
3. Growing Product Sales.
In late 2021, one of Peter Thomas Roth's products started trending online but no one at the company was aware until orders for their product skyrocketed. The source was a TikTok video posted by a random customer, Trinidad Sandoval, showing how the product worked. Peter Thomas Roth's sales soared because the video was a mix of testimonial and product demonstration - two factors that drive the commercial success of many viral campaigns. Indeed, when people react to viral messages by sharing positive experiences, they make your product believable.
To learn more about how Peter Thomas Roth responded to the viral moment, listen to one of our recent podcasts featuring Ashley Prosek, Director of Marketing at the company.
Going viral also works because it makes your product preferable to alternatives. When your product trends within a social circle, most members will want to buy it. Part of why this happens is that people do not like getting left out, and another reason is due to what scientists call "mirror neurons."
Mirror neurons are brain cells that make us share the same feeling with someone doing an action. When we see someone dancing happily to a new song, we can get as excited as the dancer. Marketer Martin Lindstrom explains the implications in his book Buy-ology, "... mirror neurons make us humans mimic each other’s buying behavior. So when we see a pair of unusual earphones sticking out of someone else’s ears, our mirror neurons trigger a desire in us to have those same cool-looking accessories, too."
Viral content can bring phenomenal success but there's more to it. Firstly, to make viral content, you need to demystify it - if the thought of going viral seems daunting, then your next read should be, "3 Tips to Make Your Marketing Video Stand Out and Go Viral." And secondly, you should prepare for the unexpected. In a world with empowered consumers, you can go viral at any time, for good or bad reasons. How you handle the situation will determine your survival.
For more information on how to market your product or service with viral content videos, subscribe to our newsletter to receive our newest blog posts right to your inbox or contact us to book a free strategy call.