Why Your Campaign Won’t Go Viral

I was reading The Viral Marketing Cheat Sheet from KISSmetrics, which turns out to be not a bad guide to viral campaigns. Analyzing as I read, I came to the graph of the top ten viral campaigns of 2010, and noticed that the list consists of generally well-known brands. Ones who can afford to drop some coin on a campaign that doesn’t adhere to an age-old formula, and have it flop. They can afford to experiment.

What about the rest of us, the smaller brands with less name recognition? When those brands spend money, they want some assurance of return. They want something tried-and-true, and don’t want to pay the cost of experimentation. As a result, it’s pretty hard to hit it out of the park. It just doesn’t happen.

So what common rule do the successful viral ad campaigns break? It’s clearly implied by the KISSmetrics’ cheat sheet — I’ll wait if you want to go and look. Did you spot it? There’s no clear call to action, one of advertising’s basic rules. Won’t bend on that one? Then you’re thinking like an advertiser, not a marketer.