Once you’ve decided you’d like to create a viral marketing campaign, its easy to become too focused on the details, and miss the forest for the trees, but a good campaign is the integration of a lot of parts. Here’s a quick checklist to make sure you haven’t missed anything.
Goals Have you defined your campaign’s goals? Do you know what you’re trying to do (in an actionable and quantifiable way) and have you identified the metrics you will use to identify success? Keep in mind that certain, identifiable and targetable types of users tend to be more prolific in spreading content, be sure to target these people.
Vector Research Have you identified the demographic you’d like your campaign to “go viral” in and have you researched them to know what types of content they share and where they share it from?
Uniqueness & Novelty Is your campaign truly new? It can be a new take on an old idea, but there must be some kernel of novelty present because otherwise, who cares?
Utility Is your campaign useful, or will it improve user’s lives? If people believe they are helping someone by sending your content to them, it will dramatically increase your chance of going viral.
Incentive Have you provided some way for users to receive some kind of value by spreading your content? Freebies and product samples are an easy way to accomplish this.
Stickiness Have you included the ability for users who love your campaign to become engaged in a more long-term fashion with it? Email or Feed subscriptions are the obvious ways to do this.
Call to Actions Have you included viral calls-to-action that will trigger user’s desire to spread your content (which you should have identified in the research stage)?
Optimization Have you made sure that your content is easy to share? Is the URL short and permanent? Did you include tools for users to share it on social sites? If you’re using some form of video, can users embed the video on their own sites and profiles?
Remixing Have you made sure your content can be remixed by viewers? The process of communal recreation is important to “going viral” and you should make sure your campaign is a platform for users to express themselves with it. Think about things like personalization and customization.
Conversation Does your campaign have mechanisms in place to allow viewers to talk about it (both with you and with their friends)? Comments sections are the most common way to include this.
Seeding Once you’ve created your content, do you have a strategy for seeding it among users who are likely to share it? Don’t succumb to the “if you build it, they will come” trap, you need to place your campaign in the path of your target vectors.
Tracking & Analytics Do you have analytics systems in place so that you can track the spread and growth of your campaign as well as measure its performance against your goals?
Backup Plan Viral marketing success isn’t guaranteed, so typically I recommend clients plan to launch more than one campaign. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you have a plan if your first try doesn’t “go viral.” (Glen reminded me to add this in the comments, thanks!)