Blog posts from Viral Marketing expert Dr Brent Coker.

4 Ways to Make Your Business Go Viral Using TikTok

These days, it can be very hard to find unique and creative ways to keep your audience engaged.

Flyers, coupons, emails…these forms of marketing have been done to death and can leave people feeling cold, bored, and detached.

Don’t worry.

Today, you will learn 4 insanely actionable ways to make your business go viral by using TikTok and their new ‘TikTok for Business’ platform.

The best part?

These are all quick, easy, and creative ways to engage and convert your audience into keen customers.

Before we dive in, here is a quick rundown of what TikTok is and why you, as a business owner or marketer, should care.

What is TikTok and How Does it Affect My Business?

You probably know TikTok as that app all the kids are using these days to share memes, music and videos. 

While you are correct (to a certain degree), TikTok also has the power to transform your business. Why? Here are some reasons:

  • TikTok has over 500 million active users and over 50% of them are over the age of 34 – this platform isn’t just for kids!
  • TikTok’s average engagement rate is 29% – almost 10% higher than traditional email marketing engagement.
  • Video marketing is all the rage – 86% of people want to see more videos from brands in 2020.
  • Only 4% of marketers are leveraging TikTok to advertise – TikTok is a way to have an edge over your competitors.
TikTok global downloads by quarter

It should be clear now that TikTok is not just a viral video-sharing app for kids. In fact, it might just be the thing that takes your business to the next level. Now let’s dive into the 4 tips to find out how.

Tip #1: Launch a Hashtag Challenge to Drum-Up Excitement

By launching a hashtag challenge, you are encouraging users to perform a certain task or challenge and tag the video with your specific hashtag. 

Hashtag challenges can generate lots of views – Samsung’s #GalaxyA campaign garnered over 30 million views in a matter of days. 

However, not all challenges go viral. For your hashtag challenge to flourish, you must first do your research! Take a look at previous successful hashtag challenges and understand why they have taken-off.

TikTok Star Challenge

Then think of a challenge that both allows for users to show creativity and is tied to your business’ vision. Be sure to keep the focus of the challenge on your brand so that the challenge is always attached to your business!

Finally, keep your hashtag short and sharp. 


Tip #2: Link-Up with TikTok Influencers to Maximise Exposure

TikTok also lets you to collaborate with famous influencers and partnering up with the right influencers can open untapped audience channels for you.

One example is Ralph Lauren’s TikTok partnership with influencer Diana Silver, which has now generated over 8 million views.  What made this even more effective was Ralph Lauren’s use of the hashtag #USOpen, which gave the company exposure to both Diana Silver fans and US Open tennis fans.

Ralph Lauren TikTok

In other words, pairing an influencer partnership with a hashtag could lead to tremendous awareness and ROI for your business.

Before you pick your influencers, be sure to understand who you are partnering up with. Do the influencer’s videos align with your business’ views and values?

Remember – just because a certain influencer has double the followers compared to another, it doesn’t mean your ROI will be doubled by choosing the more followed one. It’s all about choosing the right influencer for your business.

Tip #3: Invest in TikTok Paid Ads to Stay Ahead of the Curve

For a competitive edge over others, you might want to consider investing in TikTok’s paid advertising tools on their ‘TikTok for Business platform’.

There are four marketing tools at your disposal on TikTok for Business. The two that I find most effective are Brand Takeovers and In-Feed Native ads.

Brand Takeovers are short video ads that appear on a user’s TikTok feed before they view any other content – guaranteed impressions. You can link to any landing page and also easily target community segments to reach your desired audience.

In-Feed Native ads are <15 second video ads that appear on the users’ TikTok feed. These ads are a fantastic way to tell your story in a creative way. Unlike Brand Takeovers, In-Feed Native ads can be swiped away so be sure to make every second worthwhile and engaging.

TikTok In-Feed Native ads

These are just two of many different advertising tools at your disposal on TikTok. Consider which tools align best with your vision, budget and audience needs.

Tip #4: Be Authentic & Let Your Business’ Personality Shine

Finally, stick to your business’ (proverbial) guns and be yourself! This is the tip that should guide all that you do on the platform.

The videos that are embraced by the TikTok community are not the ones that look inch perfect or professionally shot. Rather, the ones that make it are original, genuine, and funny.

“With TikTok, advertisers have the opportunity to flip traditional marketing on its head, and place their brand at the forefront of innovative storytelling” -Katie Puris (Managing Director, TikTok)

Let LinkedIn be the platform where you show the professional side of your brand and allow TikTok to be the place where you show the humorous and human side of your business!

Don’t fret if you don’t have the expensive camera equipment or huge marketing budget. What’s more important is staying true to your business’ vision and delivering your message across in a fun and unique way.

After a few posts and interactions, you’ll soon get a feel of what is working and what is not. Let both your knowledge of what your business is about, and user engagement dictate what you post going forward.

At the End of the Day…

You know how awesome your business is.

However, your amazing products and services are likely invisible to many people right now. That’s why the tips from this post – like hashtag challenges and influencer partnerships – are so powerful.

I hope today’s post showed you how you can harness the power of TikTok to boost your business.

Voice Search – Knowing this one thing could save your brand

Voice search is the future, there’s no doubt about that. Perhaps like me you never use a weather app anymore; you just ask Google. Making calls, getting directions, and even sending text messages nowadays increasingly starts with “Okay Google…” Or Siri. Or Alexa…

The Baidu prediction supports this assumption—Andrew Ng estimated that 50% of all search will be voice by 2020 (for a discussion of this prediction see here). The voice search bots we have now are probably just the beginning. In the near future we’ll probably have personalized voice assistants, with personalities and AI engines that match our personalities (I’m waiting patiently for a hologram assistant that talks like Elvis Presley — bots need a personality!).

If you’re a brand, this is something you can’t afford to ignore.

Okay – so what? Why should you care? This: Not reacting to this trend by adjusting your marketing strategy to focus on brand recall will have a potentially catastrophic effect on your sales. You’ll be left behind as those brands who do realign their marketing strategies zoom past.

Here’s why:

The biggest difference between traditional web browser search and voice search is the result that comes back. When consumers search through a web browser, they get 10 organic results, and a few paid search results to choose from (about 80% of clicks are done on the first page). But with Voice search – you get just one result. Or – even if voice search does evolve to list out a variety of different results – chances are consumers don’t want that. They want the result, or brand, or product NOW – they don’t want to spend 10 minutes having a conversation with voice search trying to narrow down a set of options.

Imagine asking Alexa to send you milk and eggs. Unless you specify the brand—chances are you’ll get the in-house Amazon brand of eggs and milk (it will come…), OR the brand that has the highest mark-up, or shortest shelf life, or… You get the picture — you won’t get the same product you would have chosen had you had all the options laid out in front of you.

As a result of this, consumers will adjust their search patterns to regain control, by requesting specific products rather than general product categories. How do consumers conceptualize specific products? By brand.

Instead of saying “send me eggs and milk” the requests will evolve to “send me Happy Eggs Co eggs, and Meadow Lea milk”. The dominant mode of choice selection using “brand recognition” will fade, as choices become predominantly “brand recall” focused.

So what is brand recall, and how can brands ‘get’ brand recall? Brand recall works on slightly different psychological processes to the more common, and predominantly used “brand recognition”.

When consumers use web browsers to search, they scan the results, and brands that are not already in their consideration set (if they have one) have one last chance to persuade the searcher to choose them. This is currently achieved by offering a superior value proposition, or some other enticement to motivate click through rates. This is brand recognition.

Brand recall however requires the consumer to already have your brand in their memory, AND for your brand to dominate their “consideration set” when consumers decide to buy. The only way to build a brand that gets chosen during brand recall is to imprint favorable brand associations.

How do you imprint favorable brand associations? Well, best case scenario is that you have a consumer who has already trialed your product and came away impressed. But obviously this isn’t easy to do when attracting new customers and so we have to rely on memory creation, or activation, that is synergistic with the personality of the consumer. We call this ‘Affinity’.

Once we have a strategy in place to create affinity then we focus on deepening the brand associations using the right mix of emotions in content and experiences using carefully curated influencers (activating multiple sensory modalities works best). Hybrid campaigns that combine offline brand activations with online social activations is one commonly used mechanism to build brand recall. But not that common… Unless brands wake up to the idea that they need to realign their marketing to focus on brand recall, eventually they will start seeing a dramatic slide in sales as those brands who have focused on brand recall take over.

So, to sum up – voice search is here, and it’s going to take over. The main implication for brands is that it will shift the decision-making process from recognition to recall. Brands that don’t know this and don’t have a strategy in place to realign their marketing strategy to focus on brand recall will eventually fail. Those brands who know what they are doing and know how to create campaigns that imprint brand recall will win.

Contact us if you would like to find out more about how we help brands future-proof their marketing strategy and build strong associations and recall.

The 3 most essential elements in Dr Coker’s Going Viral marketing framework

The Going Viral Framework is the culmination of 8 years of research conducted by Dr Brent Coker at the University of Melbourne. Parts of the framework have been published in various sources, with the complete framework documented in the book ‘Going Viral’ (Pearson: UK).

Here are the 3 most essential elements of the framework.

1. Emotion

There are two dimensions of emotion: arousal and valence. Although it is critical to use emotions in your marketing content, it is actually the arousal dimension that evokes sharing tendencies. Arousal seems to affect sharing motives through the amygdala part of the brain—a primitive part of the limbic system that is believed to manage feelings-based (affect) memories. Some research suggests it also controls social behaviour. Valence moderates decisions to share marketing content after appraisal from the pre-frontal cortex, though one way to maximise sharing motives is to combine high arousal stimuli of opposite valence.

Consider for example winning a prize or almost getting hit by a car. Both situations invoke strong arousal (through affect), and both situations lead to strong word of mouth reactions (in both cases you will be telling everyone what happened!).

The science of creating high engagement marketing content using emotions centres on the combination of emotions, and how to maximise the strengths of the emotions to evoke arousal.

Special techniques are used to attach a brand (create branded content) and imprint strong favourable brand associations – both critical parts of the creative process.

2. Self Enhancement

Self enhancement is a biological tendency for humans to behave in ways to boost positive self-opinion. It is believed to be a primary mechanism behind building and sustaining self-esteem. Because self enhancement motives appear to be fixed, it is an extremely powerful tool for motivating content engagement.

People self-enhance in different ways, and for different reasons. Understanding self-enhancement motives in your target audience is a critical step in the initial phases of creating an online marketing campaign. This requires a deep understanding of psychographic preferences—particularly values and ideals. Oftentimes the required information is not obvious, though there are techniques to more accurately identify self enhancement triggers.

There are three general categories of self-enhancement cues used to guide content creation.

(a) Membership cues.   Humans are a group-oriented species. Members of a group are bound by common values or beliefs. If you attend the group’s social meetings you’ll eventually discover what those values and beliefs are—since the topics of conversation give clues about what they might be. For example, motorcycle clubs will mostly talk about the lifestyle of riding a motorcycle, such as near misses with cars, or long-distance adventure tours. These are membership cues—basically things that members in the group think is important and that they all share an interest in. People use membership cues in conversation to confirm, endorse, and legitimise their membership. If membership cues are known, they provide the impetus for content engagement.

(b) Impression management.           People share content to manage other people’s impressions of themselves. The usefulness of content that can shape others’ opinions is that it circumvents ego-inflation needs. Content that enables people to manage impressions includes anything that signals something about a character trait that is revered. For example, a middle-aged man might share a picture of a customised motorcycle to remind his peers about his passion for freedom, rebelliousness against the aging process, and connection to his youth. Note that his reason for sharing might not necessarily be to seek agreement from his network over the beauty of the machine.

(c) Approval cues.  Approval cues are sought to obtain recognition and respect – two extremely powerful social needs. There’s nothing like the feeling of approval from those around you. When people applaud, laugh, or even pat you on the back, it gives you a tremendous boost in self-esteem. The equivalent of this in social media is engagement (Likes, Retweets, Thumbs up etc). Some types of things people share to earn approval cues may include recent purchases made, recent sporting or life achievements, or amusing situations.

3. Affinity

Affinity is a feeling of warmth, respect, and deep appreciation for an activity, idea, or object, that endures over time. Affinity is different from emotion, primarily because emotions are short-term and affinity can be used to evoke strong powerful memories – an extremely useful tool for content marketers.

The most important thing to note about affinity is that it’s a requirement for something to go viral. If you don’t invoke affinity, people most certainly won’t share it. In other words, although emotion might be important when creating marketing content, affinity is critical.

There are several ways to invoke affinity, though two of the most popular include the following:

(a) Youth. People value memories from their youth. Activating time-based affinity from youth-based memories requires identifying a theme that has strong meaning. Youth-based memories don’t have to be specific memories, but rather can be characterised by themes, which widens their appeal. For example, everyone has memories of receiving gifts in their youth. These memories are tied to nostalgic times of being young, which do have importance for a wide range of people.

(2) Relationships. Almost everybody has had relationships in their lives that matter. These memories can be general in nature (mothers vs. a specific person). Using this strategy, the task is usually to identify a likely relationship theme, which usually means romantic or family based but could also be mentor based such as a teacher or leader.

*             *           *

These are the three basic elements of the Going Viral framework. At Wear Cape, the Going Viral framework is our foundation. We use it is all our content creation, including influencer and seeding selection.

If you would like to find out more about the Going Viral framework, please contact us for a free no-obligation consultation.

3 necessary elements for an underdog strategy

The underdog technique is a powerful method for increasing word-of-mouth and maximising affection towards your brand. It’s often used in viral marketing campaigns because of its powerful affects on motives to share.

People have a natural desire to help those who are unfairly disadvantaged. The unlikely contestant in the talent show who blows everyone away, or the kid who defeats a bully at school share the same underlying themes as iconic stories of triumph like Cinderella or David and Goliath. Given the instinctive nature of people’s desire to help the disadvantaged, when marketers successfully recreate it in videos, it very often goes viral.

This is the “underdog” technique. It taps into people’s instinctive desires to support the disadvantaged, and can have an extremely powerful effect on your brand. Here are the three elements necessary to create an underdog effect.

1. Fairness & Justice

The secret to making a successful underdog story is developing a sense of disadvantage combined with fairness and justice. A homeless person is clearly disadvantaged, but people unfortunately won’t necessarily care about them without a sense of fairness and justice. If you frame the homeless person as someone who is beating the odds to fight an injustice, then people will start to take notice. The fundamental requirement for positioning yourself as an underdog is that you’re a weaker entity facing adversity. This is the key.

Let’s compare two video ads that attempt to use a similar underdog technique, but that differ greatly in popularity. One produced by established brand Powerade has a few hundred shares. The other produced by new brand Goldieblox, and has almost half a million shares. It’s safe to say the Goldieblox one went viral, and the Powerade one didn’t.

The Powerade advertisement attempts the underdog strategy. It features the “Powerade Basketball team” in a locker-room being given a pep-talk by their coach just before a game. The coach reminds the team that although their opponents may have better resources, gold uniforms, star players, and the crowd on their side, they can “power through” and triumph.

The Goldieblox theme is: “Little girls are underdogs, and our brand is here to help them triumph by using our toys”. Their Princess Machine video advertisement about young girls claiming their place in a male dominated world currently has close to 3 million views on YouTube.

The Goldieblox ad sets the scene with the unfair revelation that girls begin to lose confidence in maths and science by around age seven. The young girls, when faced with boredom watching TV, decide to demonstrate their analytical and engineering potential by constructing an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine using only their girly toys—demonstrating effort over ability. Most people’s perceptions of young girls are as cute and vulnerable little people. But in the advertisement the girls are intelligent, powerful, and capable human beings, triumphing over adversity by performing an impressive and surprising feat.

2. Unfair Disadvantage

Genuine unfairness creates empathy. But success relies on convincing the viewer that there is injustice in the form of an unfair disadvantage, not simply a disadvantage. Powerade failed at this. The coach made several comparisons between the Powerade team and the competition to create an illusion of disadvantage, but the apparent advantages held by the opposing team did not create the illusion of genuine unfairness.

3. Effort over Ability

Finally, necessary for a successful underdog theme is emphasizing effort over ability. The difference between effort and ability is that effort is perceived to be under someone’s control, –ability is perceived to be not under someone’s control. Effort is directly associated with the task at hand, and people who try hard are generally more respected than those who don’t try hard but have a capable ability.

The Powerade ad failed at this. The key to creating empathy is demonstrating that the antagonist in the story is deserving, and that they’re deserving because of their efforts not just their ability. The Powerade ad doesn’t include any evidence of effort, only several “reminders” by the coach of the team’s abilities.

In comparison to the Powerade ad, the GoldieBlox ad was remarkably successful given they’re an unheard of brand with a limited budget. Using the underdog technique they successfully propelled their brand from obscurity to serious player in the notoriously difficult toy market.

The advertisement is successful at creating an illusion of unfairness. It’s highly believable that young girls are disadvantaged in male dominated professions such as engineering, and statistics pointing to evidence of gender discrimination in the workforce are highly publicised.