Fred thoughts
What makes a marketing campaign go viral?
Nov 2018

On Tuesday 13 November, retailers in the UK came together for Purple Tuesday, the UK’s first accessible shopping day, established to recognise the needs of disabled consumers and promote inclusive shopping. Its aim was to make retailers and customer-facing businesses much more aware of the opportunities and challenges and inspire them to make changes to improve the disabled customer experience.

When Purple CEO, Mike Adams, approached the We Are Fred team to help put together a three-minute corporate video to be used across the UK. To say we were thrilled to be able to help such a worthwhile initiative would be an understatement. On the day, the corporate video we put together was viewed by over 1.2 million users and played in major retailers up and down the UK including Marks and Spencer, John Lewis, Asda, Sainsbury’s and hundreds of others.

On the 7 day lead up to Purple Tuesday, the website was viewed over 10,000 times. On the day, the website received 5,556 unique users. Looking beyond this, the hashtag #PurpleTuesday appeared over 40,000 times and the reception the campaign received was off the charts. The momentum that Purple Tuesday gained was far greater than anyone could have foreseen – but how does a topic go viral so quickly?

Video is one of the most engaging and shareable forms of digital marketing so it’s probably no surprise to all of us that this achieved such great success. Marketing campaigns can quickly gain traction, largely in part to their societal impact. This is the hook which attracts attention and encourages the audience to engage.

The general public really got behind the concept of Purple Tuesday because it’s an issue so close to everyone’s hearts. It has that emotive human-interest element that resonates with so many of us. It also received a huge amount of support from all the top UK retailers who knew they needed to be part of something so special and this again attracted attention.

But viral content is exceptionally hard to do and achieving it is no easy feat. Having highly shareable content, be it videos or imagery can be a hugely powerful marketing tool for any business, ultimately ‘talking’ to new customers and leading them to your website to increase conversions.

There is no set recipe to making something go viral. But there are a number of elements that can be factored into a campaign to help it along the way. Being informative is one way to get your audience engaged. The Purple Tuesday video listed a number of easy to follow steps that retailers could take to get involved in the initiative, and more importantly, how they could make changes to ensure they could accommodate their disabled shoppers. Audiences crave information and if the video is interesting they will watch and share.

Having an inspiring angle, be it overcoming a struggle, finding success or turning adversity into a positive is hugely beneficial too. In the case of Purple Tuesday and the fact that not all disabilities can be seen, the video really resonated with its audiences. It inspired its viewers to make a change and this again made it very shareable.

Viral videos and other content are conversation starters. Sometimes it’s because the concept is so wonderfully weird and creative that its gets people sharing, or in this case where the subject was a matter close to many hearts it got people talking.

As marketers and designers, the best thing we can do when putting together campaigns for our clients is to create something without the specific intention of it going viral. We need to make sure that the messages we portray hit home with our audiences – at the end of the day we would always rather that 2,000 very carefully selected targets see our client’s message over 10,000 shares to totally irrelevant people who have no interest in buying the product or service.

We work hard to capture all the factors mentioned above in a way that doesn’t appear to be forced. We focus on the messaging and strategy to ensure that any campaign helps our clients to achieve their goals, combining the right combination of the key factors required to reach that level of engagement.

Take a look at the Purple Tuesday video here and let us know what you think.

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