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How to Create an Influencer Campaign with Viral Potential

Scarlette Tidy
January 25, 2021

In a world of endless scrolling, it seems impossible to break through the noise with sponsored or co-branded influencer material. Social media consumption has evolved dramatically this year, and on the brand side, it's been nothing short of challenging to navigate. Everchanging algorithms and feeds flooded with variations of the same content from creators and brands alike have made it even harder to stay authentic and original, all while keeping KPIs high. Audiences are savvier than ever and command more from brands regarding what they want to be served by the brands they follow (or even don't follow), particularly in celebrity and influencer campaigns. 

2020 has taught us that storytelling is at an all-time high, and people (influencers and consumers) love to be a part of campaigns that do it well. Viral content happens because it can connect us when we all feel disconnected. Whether audiences are consuming it, creating replica content, contributing to the conversation, or further distributing it, consumers are prime and ready to steer content towards success, all the more perfect for brand’s to produce content with viral potential. 

With new apps and features on some of our favorite social platforms driving insane KPI growth for accounts of all sizes, it truly feels like all talent finally have the chance to go viral. This has made for an exciting change in influencer selection for campaigns deemed worthy of going viral. It's now a rarity not to know someone who has had a piece of content go viral on TikTok or IG with hundreds of thousands, if not millions of views. From IG reels and TikTok, to the power of the regram, campaign planning has so much to take into consideration to compete. But before we get into those details, it's also important to understand 'viral' and what it means to your campaign. 

For brands, viral potential means creating something bigger and bolder than what currently lives on their social real estate. It's making that breakthrough video or social moment that drives exponential growth and expands business, fueled by engagement. Viral doesn't have the same meaning to one brand as it will for the next, but the end goal remains the same: driving awareness at scale, lowering Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), and driving higher conversion. The formulas to reach these goals follow the same path, and the good news is the answer lies within your very own audience. Knowing your audience and understanding what they respond to is the first step. The second is to marry great ideas with the right influencers partners rooted in your brand's affinities.

Here's six ways to create an influencer campaign with viral potential:

Have a plan and stick to it ⏳

Always start with a plan. While viral content for creators seems like pure luck (cue @doggface208's on a skateboard singing 'Dreams' and sipping Ocean Spray), what's not always visible are the many hours of planning/attempting/creative experimenting spent to make the next piece of content "it." To compete in the space, brands need to work twice as hard to produce the same striking material that effectively and seamlessly delivers critical selling points for a product or service. Having a plan means you can strive for success with clear objectives, so even if the views don't rack up to a million or more, you are still driving people down the funnel and connecting with the right audiences. Start with clear objectives, straight forward messaging, and dedicate the appropriate amount of time and resources to a thoughtful strategy that will guide you from the start of the race to the finish line. 

Know your audience 👥

Understanding how to connect with your audience will make it easier to decide what the content will be and who should be in it. Questions to ask yourself early on in the planning stage are: Is your brand celebrity-driven, or does your audience connect more to real people? Are they serious, philanthropic, or comedic? Where do they spend their time? What resonates with them? What triggers a reaction? Do they respond well to short-form content or longer-format content?

Find answers to these questions with a glance at your current content to understand what's been successful so far. What programs resonated with your community, what didn't work, what sentiment took place in the comments. Often what's not working is an excellent indication of what will in the future. Looking back at your content will help develop a checklist of do's and don'ts to stick to when mapping your content and partner selection. 

Source the right influencer partners 🔎

Traackr is a one-stop-shop for checking all the boxes on whether your partner is a great fit and is the essential way to start your search. Once you have developed a shortlist of talent that fits your brand's criteria, now is the time to take it to the next level. Questions to ask yourself are:

  1. Is their social footprint something my brand can leverage? 
  2. Are their audience demographics in line with my target consumer's age/sex/location?
  3. Does their audience shop or engage with my competitors? 
  4. Is their audience made of real people or other influencers?
  5. Have they talked about my brand before?

Finding the right person to tell the story or create a moment with your brand is essential. It can make or break the content. Ensuring your content goes viral to the right people is even more critical. Using tools like Traackr allows you to create both subjective and objective decisions about your talent selections! Hence, you can follow your gut and back it up with hard-hitting facts that you are onto something. 

Know and study your audience's unique behaviors 🤸♀️ 

Once you have made the selection, take the time to understand how best to use them by studying their social channels and top-performing/bottom performing content. Having an analytical eye when digesting your influencer partner's content is a critical step to ensuring you are setting yourself up for success. Take the time to research and understand what works and what doesn't on their social pages. It will reward you in the long run by providing you with answers to questions that may not have presented themselves to you just yet. 

Trendjack content or creating your own trends 🎯

With everyone "bored in the house and in the house bored," content creation is at an all-time high. The influx of content means there are many opportunities to trendjack something to your advantage. Depending on the objective, it might make sense to upcycle content that worked in the past or hop on a trend and add your own spin. However, if you feel you are trying to reinvent the wheel, it may mean you need to start from scratch and pave the wave for a new moment to stand out. 

The right time and the right place 🎲

Unfortunately, having the goal to produce viral content doesn't guarantee the content will go viral, and you have to be prepared to roll the dice eventually. Be ready to make tough decisions when crossing the finish line and stick to the plan. While it's the talent's job to ensure they deliver on the brief, it's up to the brand to ensure the content stays on track for success. 

Has your company succeeded at creating a viral campaign? What strategy did you use? 

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