The Two Rules of Viral Marketing: Rule Two

Laura Ferruggia December 3, 2014

This is Part Two of our two-part series on “The Rules of Viral Marketing.” Part One discussed the first rule of viral marketing, the definitions of memes and viral content, and when viral marketing content may be a bad idea. Part Two talks about ways to create content that will be appealing to your target audience.

The Second Rule of Viral Marketing Is to Provide Content People Actually Want to See

While trying to create the next great meme or hilarious YouTube video with millions of views may seem like a wonderful idea, it is important to give your target audience content that is both appealing to them and does not seem forced.

What to do instead: Become the Wikipedia for your area of expertise

Alexis Kumasaka, Online Marketing Specialist at Miles Technologies, says that the best way to build your online presence is to make your website the Wikipedia for whatever your industry is. In this day and age, when your potential clients have problems, they don’t initially seek information from a sales representative. Instead, they turn to internet search engines to figure out a solution, and then they start investigating their options.

When creating written content, you must be very thorough, detailed, and specific. When people are researching a topic to solve a problem, they don’t want the generic, fluffy content that often shows up on the first page of Google. They want real solutions.

Building a database of information may be easy if your industry is more esoteric. For some topics, there is very little information online, and that’s where you can come in and give people what they want. Marcus Sheridan, known as the “Sales Lion,” is a prime example of a marketer who took advantage of this unique opportunity.

He turned the website for River Pools into an extensive repository for information about purchasing pools and spas. He didn’t shy away from providing the most comprehensive information possible. People are always looking for cold hard costs, but many businesses are reluctant to provide them. Sheridan just went all the way and decided the site should contain everything a potential customer could possibly want to know. He also provided reviews for pools that weren’t sold by River Pools. He dedicated himself to providing completely user-focused content.

This kind of selflessness may feel risky, but users are less likely to trust you if your site is all about your own product. You may be reluctant to make information like pricing available to your competitors, so don’t feel pressured: you only have to tell customers what you’re comfortable with sharing. However, a good rule to remember is to put your customers—not your business—first, and you will be able to reap the benefits for your company.

Remember, patience is one of the most important principles of content marketing. If you have the most accurate information, people will come to find it.

So, how do you find out what information people want?

Search engine tools are one way to research what people are searching. For instance, you can use Google Trends to find out how popular certain search terms are and if they are growing in popularity. Google’s data is not always the most reliable. Google has so much data—probably too much—and it doesn’t necessarily know what’s actually relevant.

If you do online research, there are ways to do it that are more personal than analysis tools. The questions that show up as autocompletes in Google’s search bar are things that people have actually typed. When you actually hit “search,” you may find that there are no readily available answers to these questions. You may also find questions people are asking on forums and places like Yahoo Answers. Sometimes, these questions are all over the web, but either no one is answering them, or the answers people do give are undetailed and unhelpful.

Online research isn’t the only way to gather information. Often, one of the best ways to find out what your clients and leads want is to simply ask them. People are way more willing to volunteer this information than you might think. After talking to some real people who would be interested in your products or services, you should have a good idea of what they actually want to know.

Of course, once you’re putting any information on the internet, it is available for the world to see if it is found. There is always the risk that your content really will go viral—for better or for worse. People might be sharing your content to mock it. If it happens, there will be very little you can do to stop the unforgiving machine that is an internet mob. However, it’ll be in your favor to handle it with grace. If you get defensive or try to hide your mistakes, they will only be magnified. If you show the web that you have a sense of humor, people will feel affectionately toward your brand.

Still, it’s most likely that you’ll never go viral enough to make global headlines. Don’t worry. You don’t need to reach the whole world. You just need to reach your customers and provide them with a valuable service—and you can do that once you figure out what they need.

Let us know in the comments section below if you have any comments about our 2 rules of viral content!

Have questions about creating the right type of content for your target audience? Contact us today and speak to an online marketing expert.


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