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One way to draw attention to your business is through a viral marketing campaign. But what makes a successful one? We take you through some of the biggest viral campaigns of the last ten years.

Melbourne’s Metro Trains have received a massive boost in interest over the last month, thanks to their funny animated video “Dumb Ways to Die” (below).

The video has been viewed over 32 million times on YouTube and is still a popular viral production – thanks to its catchy tune, humorous animation and surprise message of safety. As a way to get an important lesson out there, that being safe around trains is crucial, this was a clever viral technique.

Metro Trains aren’t the only clever marketers out there. Viral stories and videos have brought massive attention to many other brands. But why are they so successful? Social media speaker from Bluewire Media, Selina Power, says that the secret is in their ease of sharing. “Content can be easily shared, with either the click of a tweet button or a simple copying and pasting of code into a blog. Viral marketers are quite smart in understanding that the key to viral success is in having others share their content in real time and with an average of 140 friend connections per person on Facebook this should not seem that hard.”

There are pitfalls to watch out for however, says Lauren Brown, managing director of Pulse Marketing. “Many businesses make the mistake of creating a viral video simply for the sake of ‘going viral’ and for gaining the attention of potential customers. If the video doesn’t contribute your business objectives, whether it’s increasing your sales or getting more client inquiries, it is not enough.”

But what makes a good video? Power shares the secrets:

– A good viral video is only one click away. If it’s more than that, then forget about it.
– Less than three minutes because our attentions spans are low when we are online.
– Emotive: if the video makes you laugh or cry, gives you goosebumps then a person will usually share it.
– The theme is universal and usually will never date. It appeals to everyone and not just the company’s target market.

So what have been some of the best?

Will it blend?

The series of videos that tested the theory that Blendtec blenders could blend absolutely anything became a sensation when founder Tom Dickson playfully put everything from iPhones to glow sticks in his company’s blenders to see if it indeed would blend. And mostly, they did.

Subservient Chicken

A website dedicated to someone dressed up in a giant chicken suit? It was a brilliant idea from Burger King who used it as a way to sell their new chicken Tendercrisp Sandwich. Basically, visitors to the site could type in commands for the chicken to do: read a book, spin in a circle etc, and the chicken would do it.

Man in a Jacket

Not all viral campaigns are well received by the public. Witchery’s ‘Man in the jacket’ campaign which included a woman creating a supposedly genuine YouTube video about meeting a man in a cafe, who then left his jacket behind, and being on the hunt to find him, had the air of being disingenuous and was found to be so. Mainstream media and the public weren’t too happy about being duped.

Old Spice

Old Spice’s very clever idea to spruce up their image by using an incredibly attractive man and a tongue in cheek promotion aimed at women turned out to be a massive viral hit. The videos are still live and still garner a giggle, turning the ‘Old Spice guy’ into a worldwide sensation.

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Rhiannon Sawyer

Rhiannon Sawyer

[NB: Rhiannon Sawyer no longer works for Dynamic Business]. Rhiannon Sawyer is the editor for Dynamic Business online. She also looks after online content for Dynamic Export. She loves writing business profiles and is fascinated by the growing world of homegrown online businesses and how so many people can make money in their pyjamas.

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