Here are three successful viral campaigns to take inspiration from
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Here are three successful viral campaigns to take inspiration from

Here are three successful viral campaigns to take inspiration from

Viral campaigns can’t be forced, they happen organically and are the result of connecting with audiences on a personal level

Every marketer’s dream is to have content go viral. Not only does it help increase sales, but it also enables brands to have more recall, visibility and awareness. There are no rules on how to make content go viral, but there are a few tips and tricks that can increase the chances. Viral campaigns can’t be forced, they happen organically and are the result of connecting with audiences on a personal level. If you are timely, relevant and authentic, with a dash of individuality, uniqueness and good storytelling, your chances are much higher on achieving success. Here are three of my favorite campaigns that show us exactly how it’s done.

Apple’s #Shotoniphone campaign
Apple launched its #ShotOniPhone campaign on Instagram in March 2015 and no one could have predicted the endurance and far-reaching success of the campaign. The campaign urges users to show off their iPhone’s camera features via the hashtag and the best images are displayed on Apple’s Instagram account, its website and on billboards around the world. Even now, in 2022, the hashtag remains popular and is going strong, with over 23.4 million posts to-date and no signs of dying down. Apple has also been able to capitalise on the popularity of user-generated content (UGC) through its #ShotOniPhone hashtag and continues to encourage people to share their photos and experiences. It comes on the back of a simple hashtag with an even simpler premise. A good UGC campaign is one of the most cost-effective and strategic ways to secure brand awareness and ensure a continuing roster of content with zero investment in its creation. This is one of the most successful viral campaigns for Apple and demonstrates the longevity of a campaign that has truly connected with audiences.

Weetabix and baked beans
Weetabix caused a national uproar when it suggested that there was a new way to eat breakfast. The post from Weetabix’s Twitter account, featuring an image of Weetabix covered in Heinz Baked Beans, with the caption: “Why should bread have all the fun, when there’s Weetabix? Serving up @HeinzUK Beanz on bix for breakfast with a twist,” set Twitter ablaze with reactions from millions of people, including major brands such as Dominos, Amazon and YouTube, all weighing in with their opinions and trying to insert themselves into a trending debate. The genius of this campaign was the fact that everyone had an opinion and arguably, not since pineapple on pizza has there been such a polarising debate. Even Piers Morgan jumped on the bandwagon and tried it out on live television. With more than 131,000 likes and 68,000 retweets, even people who were not aware of the breakfast cereal became aware of the controversy and as a consequence, the brand itself – demonstrating the tremendous power of a campaign going viral.

KFC tagline campaign
During Covid-19, KFC’s slogan of ‘Finger lickin’ good’ came under scrutiny for being insensitive to the needs of the times. But KFC South Africa’s social media team turned the challenging situation into marketing gold by taking a unique and humourous approach – they decided to “borrow” other brands’ taglines such as using Red Bull’s famous tagline of ‘Gives You Wings’ under a bucket of KFC chicken. By tagging the brands that the team was ‘borrowing’ the taglines from, KFC ensured that it kept the conversation going while engaging in cross-brand promotion. Most importantly, the strategy ensured that the brand was top of mind for its humour, rather than other reasons. KFC also took it further with its hashtag of #UntilWeCanFingerLickAgain, asking followers to suggest which other slogans would work best, leading to a number of fun and ridiculous comments. This created more momentum and added life to an already successful viral campaign.

Zaib Shadani is the founder and managing director of PR and Video production agency Shadani Consulting

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