Viral Campaigns for Multiple CTA's
Updated: May 26
I hear, "going viral is just luck" a lot, but in my experience studying a demographic before creating anything has helped me in creating over 100 pieces of content to go viral (1 million views in the first week) with little to no budget.
First, I think it's important to note that I first focused on going viral because I was paid by views. That's changed and I think it's important to focus on "going viral" in what matters otherwise vanity metrics will ruin your company.
Followers and views aren't as important as they used to be, now I focus on building long term plans that turn traffic into conversions. Here's some campaigns that I've done that have gone viral and a brief summary of the mentality I used to get them there.
Kids are a Gift
Challenge: Getting a shareable message during Christmas time to retarget with ads asking for donations. The topic of pro-life is very controversial making it very difficult to share something to get it to go viral. My hope was that our potential demographic would love and identify the idea of seeing a kid caring more about giving than receiving and that this demographic would not only share the commercial but have a higher propensity to donate.
Demographic: Progressive Christians and conservative females ages 23-45
Strategy: To use the messaging that kids are a gift, something most mothers who would be supporters would agree with, to humanize our ask of loving people who might otherwise be turned off by the pro-life mission immediately.
Result: This video went viral and had a $50:1 return on ad spend. Campaign included landing page, ads, and the following commercial that was used to retarget.
The Best First Date
Challenge: No one likes insurance, and the internet has less trust in non-profits. I needed a commercial that started our branding off on a positive note. I needed leads and an audience that I could retarget that had a positive experience with our brand. I needed an insurance commercial that was highly shareable by our demographic. At the time our call center wasn't fully up and running so I needed to build an audience that I could market to at a later time.
Demographic: Mom's in their 40's present the highest residual for insurance. They are typically signing the policies and have the most to insure in cars, houses, boats, and others. This particular insurance company gave a portion of profits to charities so that was another element to target the demographic with.
Strategy: I watched multiple "guilty pleasures" that this demographic loves to learn how they consume digital data and what makes them tick. I noticed that every show that is popular in this demo had 3 things in common, a man being vulnerable, a man being good with kids, and some kind of plot twist. I used this information to build the campaign.
Results: We received almost 100,000 email addresses for free (gave the song away for free as en email capture). The video itself received 15 million views on YouTube which turned into over $20,000 of ad revenue. The video was also on NBC, ABC, GMA, the Today Show, Steve Harvey Show, and several others. One Facebook page that uploaded the video received over 150 million views. All of this with zero dollar ad spend.
Real Men Sparkle
Challenge: Wanted a campaign to introduce our product to new people by alienating people who are always going to hate our brand and using them to unite people who might never hear of our brand but would support it. Hardcore conservative people hated that the company wasn’t conservative enough, hardcore liberal people were never going to agree with the mission, but I wanted to reach the middle.
Demographic: 20 to 30 year old female progressive conservatives.
Strategy: The internet always has trolls, maybe I could use the divisive messaging to introduce our brand to a whole new market space. Widening the middle by narrowing the extreme left and right.
Results: This campaign received over 7 million views on Facebook and over 300,000 page views on the landing page. It was the first of many viral campaigns that went on to achieve a $29 CPA for sponsorship.
In Your Shoes
Challenge: The software companies main customer was a larger organization and was in desperate need to build out their presence with smaller organizations, mainly churches.
Demographic: 30-50 year old male Pastors of Churches under 300 people.
Strategy: Identify their main pain point in a humorous/shareable way and get leads (9 pieces of information) from these Pastors to enter into the marketing funnel.
Result: The video, used as an ad, brought in 89,000 leads at $1.50 per lead. The video went on to gain over 300,000 views with zero effort on YouTube. The leads were used to launch the small church app for the company.
B-e-a-utiful by Megan Nicole
Challenge: During this time artists were either signed or didn't make any money. The challenge for me was to build up an artists career who started with no following. After a year of using marketing to retain fans and build a following, we were at over 5 million total followers. The challenge in releasing the first original is that every record label is watching to see if you have an engaged fan base. Getting 80 million views on a cover is a lot easier than getting 800,000 on an original. So I had to write and produce a song and music video that would grab the attention of as many labels as possible.
Demographic: Middle school girls primarily.
Strategy: I wanted the entire project to be around a unique but craved message for this demographic. I landed on the concept that girls should strive to be called beautiful, not hot. This drove the song lyrics and production. For the video, I wanted to have the artist feel unseen by the guy that she likes to reveal in the end, he in fact likes her too. This plot twist with the relatability of feeling unseen drove the visual concept. Distribution wise, I ensured the initial launch would hit a minimum of 10 million people through our own distribution while collaborating with multiple other platforms in the industry.
Result: The video rose to over 35 million views and the song sold over 66,000 in the first two weeks. All of this without a single marketing dollar spent or any label or A&R backing. The success of the video lead to a record deal with P Diddy and Jimmy Iovine at Interscope Records.
What Do You Meme
Challenge: To find low hanging fruit that has a very high potential return on very low effort. While writing sometimes 10 blogs per day we needed branding to grow the individual pages as well as the content to drive page views. I started doing 5 memes in 5 minutes every day to start growing the brand and engagement on the facebook page with the goal of growing engagement on content.
Demographic: Single women in their 30's
Strategy: I looked at the demographic and noticed that one common theme that this demographic cared about was being validated in growing older. While watching a movie that had the quote, "pain heals, chicks dig scars, but glory is forever" I had the idea to do something similar but applicable to the demographic. "Wrinkles mean you laughed, grey hair means you cared, and scars mean you lived!"
Result: The post itself received over 1.6 million shares and 437k engagements. Because of this post, the Facebook page grew from 200k followers to 850k followers, a majority being the exact demographic we were trying to attract. More importantly, the meme took me less than 3 minutes to make.
The Lazy Song
Challenge: To grow all social media followings for an unknown artist to be able to launch original content in the future. Also, profit came from views (YouTube ad revenue) so the more views we received the more money that came in.
Demographic: Middle school kids on YouTube
Strategy: While we were never going to release an original with no following to get millions of views my thought was to make unique covers of songs that were getting millions of views. We'd appear in the search, get clicks, and then I was very intense about retention. If you watched a video I wanted you to watch a second video and then like our facebook page and subscribe to our YouTube channel (at the time followers could be translated into views). I picked a song, the Lazy Song by Bruno Mars (someone with a similar demographic and style as the artist) and then made an age appropriate female version of it.
Result: The video itself resulted in over 75 million views (that's roughly $225,000 in ad revenue for one video). I had added annotations for facebook likes and YouTube subscribers which drove 25,000 new likes a day for Facebook and 15,000 subscribers per day for YouTube.