For many social media users, the ultimate goal is to "go viral." Whether it's the owner of a YouTube channel or a small business brand manager trying to establish a social presence, people just want their post, tweet, photo or video to be noticed and shared by users with a large number of followers, thereby exponentially increasing their audience reach.
Because of the public nature of social media, any user with the right marketing strategy has the potential to go viral.
"It's a free-for-all," said Shana Starr, managing partner of public relations firm LFPR. "Brands big and small are constantly thinking of creative ways to be part of the conversation, whether or not it relates to their product or company."
Starr cited Oreo's viral tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl blackout as an example:
You don't need a big budget to see social media success, but you do need to be creative and take risks that other companies are not willing to take, Starr said. In order to set yourself apart, Starr and the LFPR team advised keeping these five tips in mind.
- Content (strategy) is key. Highly shareable content evokes emotion and makes a connection with the reader. Once you've made that connection, the next step is initiating virality. Before content is created, it is important to create a social media content strategy. This is one of the most important things you can do to create brand awareness and connect to your audience. Spend time customizing your content, creating powerful images, imparting creativity and crafting catchy headlines that are contagious.
- Take a risk. In order to stand out on social media, small businesses must take charge, think outside the box, and not be afraid of taking risks. Explore alternative social media platforms to get your message and brand out there. Use humor to poke fun at yourself, be transparent about how your company operates, and even take a stance on certain issues, as long as they aren't too controversial. Some of the best social media campaigns have been completely unexpected and a step away from the norm.
- Don't be afraid to be different. To leave your mark on the online world, you have to cut through the established voices of the larger brands and create your own brand identity. If you look at your competition, you will most likely see the same marketing and social media strategies across the leading brands. If they are doing something you like, make a new, improved version of a larger competitor's strategy and give it a unique twist that highlights the benefit of your business. Make a point to create a social strategy that connects to your customers on a level where you are giving them something different, whether it's business tips, coupons or a contest prize.
- Timing is everything. Current trends, breaking news and other unexpected events can be the perfect opportunity to socially emphasize your brand and make a splash. Unforeseen circumstances are golden opportunities to leverage your message on social media and help your brand stand out. Established brands have successfully implemented real-time marketing and created some of the most unforgettable and popular content in social media. To capitalize on calendar events like holidays, be prepared. Before the holiday, create content ideas around it, or offer coupons to customers who tell stories about their own holiday experiences. Publish contextually relevant content that also matters to your customers. This is a good example of ways to explore real-time marketing. Certain opportunities come around only once, so act quickly and help your brand go viral.
- Create a community. Your community can be incredibly influential, and determines whether your message will go viral. If you want to have a spectacularly successful social campaign, you need to issue a call to action and let your community be a part of your strategy. Give your followers a sense of purpose and belonging. You might be surprised at how much your social environment can grow and impact your business's bottom line.
If your follower engagement is low, Starr recommended creating or finding content that is original, fresh and exciting. Followers will be more likely to want to share your content, especially images, if it engages them and appeals to their emotions.
Another way to boost interactions is by hosting chats on either Facebook or Twitter to provide your followers an inside look at your company, Starr said. Host a chat where followers can ask your CEO or product managers specific questions. They will appreciate the transparency, and your rate of engagement will increase along with the impact.
"Keep at it every day and be consistent," Starr told Business News Daily. "Dedicate time to creating a social media plan that reflects your culture and your company. Once you have strategies in place, make sure everyone within the company is aware, understands the purpose and is on-board."
Originally published on Business News Daily.