How Viral Marketing can Benefit Your Small Businesses and Non-Profit Organizations

How Viral Marketing Can Benefit Small Businesses and Non-Profit OrganizationsNon profit and small business marketing, LM3 Communications

Viral marketing campaigns are some of the best promotional tools available to small businesses and non-profit organizations. If utilized properly, #viralmarketing videos and content can generate enormous brand awareness, promote positive public/consumer sentiment and increase company sales. While there are many important tactics that bring viral marketing campaigns to fruition, my top “must have” attributes of GREAT viral marketing initiatives are listed – along with some great examples – for your consideration below.

Your Viral Marketing Campaigns Must Drive Emotion

Great viral #marketing campaigns need to contain shareable content that’s so intriguing, interesting and personal for audiences, it creates an emotional trigger that compels viewers to react – in most cases, share the content.  In fact, if your viral marketing campaign – particularly those using videos – resonates well with audiences, they’re even that much more likely to share it! It doesn’t really matter what emotions you create – unless they reflect poorly on your organization – but emotional responses are proven to drive users to take some sort of action. 

Your Viral Marketing Campaign Should Tell A Story

Great viral marketing campaigns should always tell a story. The story can be based on company ideals, mission or vision, or can highlight a cause the company is passionate about. These messages often have very little branding and are created to entertain, inform and engage viewers about measures a company is taking to meet a need or provoke change.  One of my most favorite segments for story-telling is Chipotle‘s “Farmed and Dangerous” – a mini-series that spotlights a local, organic farmer who’s fighting to stay alive against the big factory farms.

A cause close to my own heart, Farmed and Dangerous is a four-episode satire that explores the very real state of our declining and sometimes controversial agricultural food sector. Chipotle’s business model and mission is devoted to providing customers “food with integrity,” so it’s no surprise they’ve elected to create awareness around industrial agriculture that essentially highlights their “food with integrity” premise.

Your Viral Marketing Campaign Must Be Easily Shareable

Successful viral marketing initiatives can flourish depending on how shareable they are. In the social media age, consumers share content they’re passionate about; however, it’s got to be easy for them to do. Don’t make it difficult for them! Don’t require users to fill out contact forms or sign-up for email newsletters just to share your content. DO offer #Twitter and #Facebook “share” buttons within the content so your audience can quickly and easily share it. You want it to spread fast, right? That’s the whole concept of VIRAL MARKETING! 

Viral Marketing Campaigns Capitalize on Trends or Current Events

Viral marketing campaigns that capitalize on current trends and events are great ways to help drive customer interest and brand awareness about your company. Finding a way to infiltrate your brand/service around a current event creates opportunities for companies to engage with consumers without being overly “salesy.” Over-the-top branding is a no-no in viral marketing campaigns. While there should be some indication of company involvement, it can’t be the focus of the campaign.  

One of my most favorite recent examples is WestJet‘s Christmas holiday surprise spectacular! In this example, #WestJet – an airline company based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada – set up a real-time “video Christmas wish line” for customers, where fliers could “tell Santa” what they wanted for Christmas before they got on their flight.

Once wishes were made and the flight took off, the WestJet team and partners went to work to truly make a miracle happen, surprising all the passengers with gifts when they arrived at their destinations! A worldwide spectacle, the touching video was featured in 1,600 unique news stories, received more than 35 million YouTube views and garnered over 328 million media impressions in just over three weeks.
Talk about joyous brand exposure! 


What are your thoughts about what makes a GREAT viral marketing initiatives? Share them below!



2 thoughts on “How Viral Marketing can Benefit Your Small Businesses and Non-Profit Organizations

  1. Laurie, you have clearly expressed some of the characteristics of viral marketing. These are so many various elements that could make a marketing campaign become so popular. Many of the popular campaigns that I have enjoyed definitely evoked emotion, or were humorous. They also told memorable stories that engaged the audience making them want to share the element with friends. Enjoyed your post thoroughly.


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