As we live in a world where most would dubbed it as the information overload era, it can be pretty frustrating for marketers and content providers alike to see their long hardworking hours of brainstorming-cum-releasing-content receiving a disappointing amount of attention - or worst, the distasteful eye-rolling from their audience and becoming the sacrificial lamb for the Internet to mock.
So, what exactly catches our attention - what exactly is the science in making viral content on social media?
While there is no sure cookie-cutter way in ensuring every content one uploads on the Internet will get the desired views, there is this one essential thing that one needs to know before embarking onto the journey of virality - regardless whether the content is for marketing, promotional, educational, entertainment or infortainment purposes.
While I am by no means a professional in marketing content for a target audience, allow me to start of with my utmost favourite video of ALL TIME.
It has been years since I last watched this video and it still brought chills down my spine every time I watch it. Call me a sucker for kids but every anti-smoking campaign before this could not compare, much less have an impact on me. So what makes this video so different?
One of the most important reasons why this video was so impactful to me was because the people behind the video, UNDERSTAND THEIR AUDIENCE. Bolded, underlined, highlighted - I can't stress this enough.
Here's a situation to ponder over:
You're walking over to the bus stop when you see a smoker lighting up a cigarette. As said smoker takes the first puff, you can't help but look over before walking over and sharing what's on your mind.
"You know, it's bad for you. Have you tried quitting?" you urged, all the while assuring yourself that your tone of voice is not in the least bit condescending.
Miraculously, the smoker stubs the cigarette in hand to the nearest trashcan and thanks you for your advice. Your bus arrives and you feel good having saved another life -- and oh, you're early for work! "It pays to be good," you think to yourself as you imagining Karma patting your back.
In all seriousness, try as you might - even at your hardest attempts - , you do sound condescending.
Here's the thing, smokers know it's bad for them but they do it anyways. Why? Two things: Nicotine and self-denial. Nicotine is a powerful drug every smoker tries to deny, but it's that one thing that stops them from quitting. So telling them off, like quit something one has been doing for ages because it's bad, is just as condescending as telling a teenager not to eat ice cream before dinner because they'll ruin their appetite.
I like to think that such PSAs such as anti-smoking campaigns are one of the hardest contents one can make to gain the attention from their targeted audience. It's human nature to defy - the more we're told we can't, the more we will. So, kudos to the creators of this video. The set themselves out to create one of the best anti-smoking campaigns of all time and they did - all just by understanding their audience.
You see, knowing your audience and understanding them are two different things. What sets them apart is anticipating how your viewer will react to the content upon watching it. It's not just about the views, it's about the engagement after. Sure, having the option of sharing the video will help it "spread like wildfire", but that's only coming from the optimistic content creator.
By understanding your target audience, the strategy will come as easily and more naturally. In this case, emotions are a very important trigger that compels their target audience (i.e. the smokers) to do exactly what they want them too.
Emotion is what compels people to take action. By integrating and eliciting such emotions to their video, the message to quit smoking resonates more effectively than the simple redundant overplayed "it's bad for you" message.
Now, I'm not saying every campaign requires those touchy feelings to make it go viral but so often we see marketers thinking they are the dominators of the Internet without actually trying to understand their audience. That is where they set themselves up to fail.
So the PSA here? Before planning any content, hoping to strike lucky with the Internet Virality Gods, ask yourself: Do you know your audience?
I'll end off with another of my favourite videos by a lady who is more than just a youtuber, Anna Akana. (Google her, seriously she's amazing)
PS. With so many girls already being told how and what they should look like, focusing so much on physical appearances, this video is an excellent example of how Understanding Ur Audience can make your message stronger and reaching a wider audience. I remember her video blowing up weeks after she uploaded it and I was just so proud. Packaging the message of body acceptance as well as values that should matter in society through a make-up tutorial is just Uplifting,Unpredictable, Adaptable. Much like the anti-smoking campaign, I believe any social media campaign should be UUA!