It’s no secret social media has opened up a world of opportunity for businesses looking to capture the consumer, with marketing a product and service now as easy as making a Facebook post.
Companies of all sizes can share their story, create a brand, target a demographic and learn engagement data at the click of a button – much more cheaply than using TV or radio.
LinkedIn is often considered the go-to platform for businesses looking to service other businesses, while TikTok’s rapidly growing user base of young people makes it ideal for companies looking to market to Generation Z.
Near ubiquitous on the internet, Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook has the largest active user base and is a natural place for businesses to start with organic and paid marketing, while Instagram is also a wildly popular platform to highlight products.
However, while social media can theoretically deliver a million-strong audience to any advertising business, it’s not always easy to capture a consumer wading through an avalanche of online distractions.
With research speculating that the average person’s attention span is only eight seconds, businesses do not have long to engage a client and keep them interested until the checkout trolley.
What it takes to go viral
According to Social Meteor Head Digital Strategist Luke Whelan, businesses simply can’t afford a flat and boring social media presence.
“The crux of this is defining a business’ core values, creating unique content pillars that reflect these values for their target audience and then creating platform-specific executions that are engaging,” he said.
“If what you are posting is authentic, relevant and engaging – popularity will follow.”
Mr Whelan dipped his toes in the realm of social media with Blake Kelleway when the pair came up with the concept for Perth Is OK! in November 2014, putting the nanny state on the map.
A few years down the track, taking his increased knowledge of digital platforms with him, Mr Whelan formed Social Meteor with Creative Director Ben Hardy to deliver value-based content strategies to businesses far and wide.
It is safe to say he knows a thing or two about how to create the elusive “viral” content on social media.
Breaking down some of the world’s most popular videos, Mr Whelan said there might not be much in common on the surface, but each had an emotional and ensnaring element.
“Kony 2012 was the first time that an Oxfam-style video that plays heavily into people’s emotions and guilt was created purely for social media,” Mr Whelan said.
“It was also given a conspiratorial tone – social media users love a good conspiracy – and was backed heavily by celebrities and influencers of the time, which added fuel to the viral fire.
“All of this social proof, combined with the call to arms for everyday people to join the movement by sharing the content, has led it to be one of the most watched videos on the internet.
“Then you have Gangnam Style, a very cleverly crafted song and dance, directly purposed at children and driven via social media.
“The tune, lyrics and visuals are sensationalised and over the top, with a simple but recognisable dance that’s easy for kids to mimic and get shared on their parents’ social channels.
“Meanwhile, Despacito was a massive hit song within the Latin communities before it got a touch-up from Justin Bieber, catapulting the song and video into the mainstream.”
While creating a video on Ugandan war criminals and catchy pop songs might be unsuitable for business, Mr Whelan said participating in digital trends was a great way to remain relevant and create a viral moment.
Keep up with the trends
According to the internet savvy specialist, TikTok and Instagram Reels content has exploded in popularity over the last 18 months, with brands that were quick to hop on the bandwagon now reaping the rewards.
While keeping an eye on digital trends and creating fun business content was recommended, Mr Whelan urged marketers to be wary of wading into political conversations irrelevant to their companies
He said business owners needed to be wary of virtue signalling – a practice where people publicly expressed their opinions with hopes of getting a pat on the back.
“Social media users and younger audiences are increasingly willing to call out inauthenticity and boycott businesses that are being insincere,” Mr Whelan warned.
“Also remember that trying to force a viral moment will come across as inauthentic nine times out of 10.
“Instead, businesses should be focused on a consistent, long-term content strategy that responds to current trends and platforms while remaining true to the business’s values.
“The road is long – stick with it and the engagement, or ‘virality’, will come.
“We’ve seen countless viral moments on Perth Is OK!, but it’s been a result of sticking to the plan and not looking for a quick win.”