The idea of having a piece of content “go viral” is uniquely appealing, not just to financial services marketers, but to the broader marketing community at large. But what is it that sets truly viral content apart from your everyday run-of-the-mill content, and what does it take to produce it. For starters, viral content is uniquely “sticky.” It attracts and holds attention, is easily sharable, and taps into the collective consciousness of its target demographic, sometimes spilling over into other channels entirely.
Already, ETF and financial services marketers may be rolling their eyes—can financial services marketing actually generate these kinds of responses? Of course! Read on to learn more about the key characteristics of viral content:
Unfortunately, the printed word just doesn’t grab eyeballs like it used to. Nowadays, a marketer’s best bet for producing a piece of viral content is some kind of video, infographic, or meme-friendly format. Mobile video usage in particular has been skyrocketing in recent years, so it stands to reason that would-be viral financial marketers should keep mobile-friendly videos in mind.
When it comes to videos, it’s important to stick to one main idea, and to ensure the video is no longer than it needs to be. A one-minute video is good, but if you can get the point across in 30 seconds, even better—there’s no need to pad your content with extra length. The longer a video is, the more likely it is that viewers will drop off before reaching the end.
Be sure to also read our guide: Here’s What’s Wrong with your Video Content
Just like the best stories, viral content taps into our emotions to elicit a visceral, powerful response. This emotion can run the gamut, from joy, to sadness, humor to jealousy, although it’s true in most cases that positive emotions tend to work better in marketing. If your audience doesn’t feel something by the time they’ve finished consuming your content, it’s unlikely they’ll be inspired to share that content with others, and if it’s not shareable, it’s highly unlikely it’s going to “go viral.”
To stand any chance at all of resonating with a target audience, viral marketing must be authentic, tapping into the unique values and brand identity of the marketer in question. In the financial services industry, this can be a tricky proposition, because most financial services firms and ETF marketers wish to project an air of reliability and trust, which often results in a somewhat homogenous sea of similar buzzwords (think: “asset allocation solutions”). Finding what “authentic” means to you as a financial services firm may require some outside help to nail down the messaging.
Since viral content by its very definition spreads like a virus, a key component of any viral marketing campaign is the fact that the content must be easily shareable. How do you ensure shareability? For starters, be sure to post content to social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and (often the big one in financial services) LinkedIn. Wherever the content lives on your website, it should also feature social media buttons that enable quick sharing on a viewer’s platform of choice.
The bottom line
Viral content is like lightning in a bottle: it’s tough to catch, since it requires emotional engagement, authenticity, and a high amount of share-ability to boot. In financial services, this can be doubly difficult thanks to regulatory requirements, but with the right ingredients, careful planning, and dedication, it’s unquestionably possible.