How can a brand benefit from viral marketingBF Team

Jonah Berger, a marketing professor at the renowned Wharton School of Business, said that "Virality is not born, it is made." In other words, no brand can be made with a viralizing ability and that viral marketing can be thought, planned and pushed into the practice of any brand.

Why does viral marketing matter? Because between 20 and 50% of purchasing decisions are influenced by word of mouth, as McKinsey's studies have shown. And your percentage can be higher, as the brand is newer or relatively more expensive.

Consumers have a multitude of daily choices, thus, they often choose to give less thought into the decision, resorting to the recommendation of someone close or to the reliable source of someone who could advise him.

Word of mouth influence, amplified by the digital revolution​

The digital revolution has significantly diversified the ways to share information, to pass it on, from product reviews to social networks. Some consumers even create websites and blogs to express their admiration or punish brands. In the face of this evidence, brands must reconsider word of mouth marketing.

Before aiming to develop such tactics, marketers must answer 3 fundamental questions:

/ Who (influences the brand)

/ What (message / content)

/ Where / context (s)

Thus, viral marketing or word of mouth marketing is not about the product behind the brand, but rather about the consumer and the psychology behind his social actions.

This means that marketers have the opportunity to create and coordinate initiatives that reach the right target with the right content and in the right context.

How do digital campaigns get viral?

Applying science

Though word of mouth seems to have a bit of magic, like catching light in a jar, yet, by understanding the context behind social influences, it is possible to make your own products / services / ideas contagious. Science says this: that people do not share things at random

Jonah Berger, professor of marketing at Wharton School says:

"If you understand human behavior and the science behind it very well, you can predict what people will pass on and you can create your own contagion - things that you want people to pass on, whether it's messages, products or ideas."

Knowing the reasons why people share something 

The teacher's studies reveal that there are 6 reasons why people share:

S - Social Currency (Status): people need to express their status by sharing information attesting to their status and ensuring their status by association

T - Triggers (News): we more often share things that deal with a topic / topic, in the top of our mind / on everyone's lips

E - Emotion: when information triggers a strong emotion / involves you emotionally, then it is easier to share

P - Public: The more someone with reputation, with recognition, whom we admire, do an action or transmit something, the more we are available to share his initiative / information

P - Practical Value: Useful things, loaded with knowledge and expertise can be easily transmitted

S - Stories: Information circulates through stories. A story that people want to share carries with it your idea / product.

Using the topic (insight) that reflects the positioning of the brand

At the end of the day, let's not forget that the fundamental goal of word of mouth marketing campaigns is to support the brand. An example of a campaign that naturally reflects the brand's positioning is the Dove Face Sketch campaign, in which the brand remakes its mission to make the consumer or to trust him and his real beauty.

The identified topic is the lack of confidence of some women in their true beauty. Appealing to strong emotions, which make people care, to share with others, to act, to participate. Dr. Karen Nelson-Field and her team at the University of South Australia, Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing and Science, grouped, following research, the intensity of emotions:

/ Positive emotions with high activation: laughter / hilarity, inspiration, amazement, joy

/ Positive emotions with low activation: fun, calm, surprise, well-being (happiness)

/ Negative emotions with high activation: disgust, sadness, shock, anger

/ Negative emotions with low activation: discomfort, boredom, irritation, frustratione

Research shows that video information with positive emotions with high activation is 30% more shared than those with low activation. And people share 30% more positive videos than negative ones.

Motivation of viralization: Anchoring in the present

We more often share things that deal with a topical issue on everyone's lips. An example of a campaign currently anchored is the series "The Truth Is Worth It" launched by The New York Times, on the social context of fake news and contradictory statements by President Trump's press secretary, as well as the fact that the publication was blacklisted.


What did the campaign check?

/ Anchored in a current topic: the truth in journalism, politics, social life

/ In line with the purpose of the brand: quality and complete content

/ Full of emotion: captivating message, involved

/ Result: 276,000 subscribers in the digital environment

Motivation of viralization: Strong emotion

When information triggers a strong emotion or is involved emotionally, then it is easier to share. One such example is the WWF Campaign - "Last Selfie". The campaign used Snapchat (context), recognized for its selfie functionality, to show the latest selfies it has of endangered species, thus encouraging users to immortalize them and share them further.

Snapchat (context) helped viralize due to the limited time to keep a story (only 24 hours), which made the audience print screen immediately or find a way to share the image on Social Media with messages exciting like: "the last selfie of the bear ...". Thus, the context amplified the emotion.

What did the WWF ”Last Selfie” campaign crossed off:

/ The content was strong emotional

/ In line with the purpose of the WWF brand: For a living planet

/ The right context (posting on Snapchat) (stories displayed for a short time, as the message sounds: the last ...)

/ Snapchat target, sensitive to WWF purpose

Motivation of viralization: Practical value / utility

We easily share useful things, loaded with knowledge and expertise. The "Know your lemons" breast cancer awareness campaign, carried out by Worldwide Breast Cancer, is proof of this. The campaign had two objectives - awareness to identify early signs of cancer and risk factors for this condition and fundraising.

What the "Know your lemons" campaign crossed off:

/ Utility (through the clarity of the message and the relevant image)

/ In line with the mission of Worldwide Breast Cancer

/ Emotion: motivation, with high intensity, positive

/ Context: current topic for women


/ 7.3 million Facebook views

/ shared it over 40,000 times

/ raised more than $ 166 million

The Motivation of Viralization: The Story

Information circulates through stories. A story that people want to share carries with it your idea / product.

"Breaking 2" is a campaign of the trio Nike, Heineken and State Street Global Advisors. The idea was that Nike launched a new product - VaporFly Elite, with qualities that would help 3 elite athletes break the barrier of the 2 hours of the marathon. The campaign included live streaming with the race.

What the“Breaking2” campaign crossed off:

/ Her story and her ability to catch people, to follow her with all her heart

/ In line with the idea of ​​the Nike brand: To bring motivation and innovation to every athlete in the world

/ Emotion: motivation, inspiration

Context: the race was broadcast live via streaming; a documentary aired on National Geographic


/ The hashtag # Breaking2 has been used over 407,000 times

/ Over 87% positive responses to video

/ Over 2 billion impressions created

Important to remember about viral campaigns

Viral campaigns do not bring value to the brand, if they fail to connect with its target. Let's remember the “Laser, frate!” Romanian campaign, awarded for its originality and viralization capacity, which failed to connect the Teletech brand with its own target, going viral among an audience with other needs and expectations from a brand in the category appliances.

The mechanism works if all the elements are strategically aligned: Who (influences the brand), what (message / content) or where / context. Consumer motivations exist. The solutions that serve the brand in the long run remain to be found.