Everybody who has something to say about content marketing in the digital age swears by social media. It’s a no-brainer; millions of people congregate on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share their stories and read others, and a social media account can be tailored to provide effective content and advertising to those who will be most interested in it.
There are plenty of success stories, but plenty of other examples made of companies that tried to budge their way into the Internet’s party, and rightfully got roasted for it. So how do you use viral marketing or commentary with your brands, without being labeled inauthentic? First, let’s take a look at what makes a company’s social media presence irritating.
It’s easy to be annoying
A good rule of thumb on the Internet is to assume that people won’t like it.
Not everything is meme fodder
A new trend or viral moment sweeping the Internet is not always a sign that your brand must jump on it. In fact, many of the same people you are attempting to court may find it annoying, irrelevant, or even inauthentic. There are a few different things that indicate a brand’s attempt at using viral content will end in disaster.
Among viral marketing faux pas, the “forced meme” can be the most egregious; a prominent example is that of the Minion, from Universal Studios animated film “Despicable Me.” Adweek points out how the Minions were the subject of an intensive social media marketing campaign that by most traditional methods was a rousing success; the Minions became ubiquitous on social media with the side effect of becoming reviled as content for oblivious moms. Put simply, people aren’t interested in content that was artificially inflated to viral status.
Millennials are wary of brands; for good reason
There is a Twitter account called “Brands Saying Bae,” and it has over 41,000 followers. It’s a microcosm of how many millennials justifiably feel about a brand’s social media presence, especially when they seem to be merely mimicking them, or co-opting social movements for the purpose of making a profit. A recent retweet of theirs highlighted a sandwich company seemingly referring to critics of their marketing efforts as misogynists, making an almost perfect example of exactly how not to engage with your consumers. In a landscape full of corporate Twitter accounts saying dumb things, it’s hard not to blame intelligent young people for being quick to criticize. That being said, how do you avoid getting screencapped and posted by ridiculing Tweeters?
Different medium; same rules
Don’t throw away the playbook just yet.
Consistency in style and tone are key
Just like your logo, promotional material, and even public use of language should have a defined style guide and usage, your social media efforts should too. One of the most important pieces of advice for brands using meme content is to ensure what they’re about to post is in line with the brand’s stated message, existing social media presence, and will be appreciated by their consumers. Create an exhaustive guide for your social media profiles, and stick to it in the same way you stick to your other branding; the right meme will show up eventually, and be better for it.
Less can often be more
When using viral content on your social media platforms, avoid the common mistake of doing it too often. Netflix has a pernicious habit of tweeting half-baked jokes several times a day, on multiple associated accounts. Overwhelming ubiquity might be one way to achieve brand recognition, but in Netflix’s case, as a household name, they frequently risk diluting their message in favor of quantity. Much like any other brand on social media, only a handful of Netflix’s tweets actually gain much traction, while most of the others post mediocre engagements for the size of their following.
Tracking the success of a viral marketing effort can also prove to be difficult. While you might have said something funny, and won oodles of likes or retweets, did it actually make a difference to your business? At Genesis Digital, we know that using viral content is an effective method to raise brand awareness and credibility. Using tools like Kartra, you can place links that lead to landing pages, online shops, or anything your heart desires in areas like your social media account’s descriptions, or even in posts themselves. Kartra uses an exhaustive analytics engine to show you where your new customers are coming from, answering the question of whether or not your tweet about how ugly your Crocs are led to an uptick in sales.
Democratizing the process
We’re all online together.
Internet culture is the sum of its users
A perpetual point about viral marketing is the fact that an organization must recognize itself as simply another peer among others on the Internet. That means behaving like a good Internet citizen, and avoiding missteps like the aforementioned sandwich shop misogyny tweet or assuming that as a brand, well-meaning criticism is a personal affront. Slack, a company specializing in virtual collaboration, gave us a great example in their response to the publishing of their rather humorous logo misuse guidelines. When a user tweeted them in response asking how their logo is an “octothorpe,” they replied back, “emotionally.”
A brand seeking authenticity and therefore credibility in their viral marketing efforts will find the task infinitely easier if they’re willing to be just as ironic or off-color as everyone else with a social media account can be.
Consumer interest creates content for you
The popular diner chain Denny’s has a Tumblr account full of strange, seemingly nonsensical posts that play off of popular trends or jokes on Tumblr. It’s a surreal form of Internet humor that spawned loads of content after itself, and led to a cult following of Denny’s bizarre Tumblr persona that included fans submitting their own fanart for posting on the blog, a phenomenon that the Daily Dot detailed as an important component to Denny’s viral branding message that propelled the diner back to prominence as the eatery of choice for goofy netizens (a.k.a.: an internet user, for those of you that don’t speak geek). Whether the choice to eat at Denny’s is ironic or not, the fact remains a robust persona and a small army of laughing bloggers creating content for them gave the diner a much-needed boost in attendance.
After all, there’s not many diners that post your bad jokes on their blog.
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