Do you think that Internet sensations just explode onto the scene overnight, without any work?
It’s unlikely. As Geoff Livingston recently wrote, even the most creative content needs sound marketing tactics to excel.
The story of Havard Rugland, an amateur-soccer-player-turned-football-place-kicker, is the perfect example.
His astonishing video of him booting balls into moving cars and through field goal posts caught fire only after a series of online news release publicized it.
In fact, most Internet sensations could teach marketers a thing or two – or even five. Take a look.
1. Be persistent and present
Sensation: Cupcakes and Cashmere started as a personal blog in 2008, and as its creator Emily Schuman said, “I wrote for months without any comments or readers (for a while, it was just my parents and husband).”
Emily focused on providing creative content, posting regularly, and improving her skills. The persistence led to a Twitter following of 71,000, a book deal, and collaborations with Coach and Estee Lauder.
Lesson: Though billions of people use the Internet, your social media following and blog audience will start at zero. With all the competition out there, your successes likely won’t happen overnight.
Don’t give up if growth is slow. Provide the content that your target audience wants, engage followers you have, and attempt to make new connections.
2. Find where your audience is, and go there.
Sensation: Without the backing of a record label, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ debut album hit #2 on U.S. Billboard albums chart, selling 78,000 copies in one week last October.
The hip hop duo’s manager credited the success to sharing information directly with fans through Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, every post on their website is also shared on Tumblr, making content more accessible for mobile users.
Lesson: Use the platforms that your target audience uses. Imagine Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ success if they did the same things on LinkedIn. It wouldn’t work. They also saw the importance of better reaching mobile users, a fast growing market.
Also, they don’t use ghost posters, preferring to connect with fans in their own voice. Don’t post to social media like a corporate drone. You’re a person. Post in a way that matches the image you are trying to sell.
3. Demonstrate your product’s value, then sell
Sensation: Statistician Nate Silver took some flack for his prediction that Barack Obama would easily win the 2012 Presidential election. But when the actual results nearly mirrored his prediction, he became a household name.
As the election results came in as he predicted, Nate tweeted a link to his book, which was retweeted about 7,000 times. His book’s sales shot up 850 percent on Amazon and became the second best-selling book on the site.
Lesson: People need a reason to trust you. Gain their trust by sharing your expertise and consistently offering helpful resources. (Nate earned trust with his accurate predictions.) Better yet, offer something that no one else can. That’s when you become a sensation.
4. Make your customers’ lives easier
Sensation: When Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger teamed to form Instagram, there was already a bevy of photo apps. Yet within two years it was their photo-sharing app that Facebook bought for $1 billion.
Though it may seem that Instagram was an overnight success, they put in a lot of work studying their competition, developing apps, scrapping them, and rebuilding toward the goal of making the simplest photo-sharing app around. Then they continued to work to ensure people had a positive user experience.
Lesson: Your product could be perfect, but if it’s difficult for customers to find you in search or engage you on social media, they will abandon you. Keep customers’ lives simply by anticipating their problems and engaging them with solutions.
5. Creativity goes further when it’s timely
Sensation: College baseball doesn’t get as much coverage as football and basketball counterparts, but for several days Harvard University’s baseball team dominated the news.
The team racked up about 18 million YouTube views after it recorded themselves covering Carly Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe” during a road trip. Their dance inspired many other Carly Rae covers.
Lesson: Yes, the team’s success came almost overnight, but there’s a reason for that. Newsjacking, the art of taking a talked about event and applying it to your brand, offers high peaks but little sustainability.
Test your creativity. Look for buzz-worthy topics and see how your business can use them to its advantage.