How to Make a Viral Boom with Promotional Products

Often we think that if our product is not an exciting and fun one, it doesn't have a potential virality. Let's get rid of this misconception.

It is amazing how very unexpected photos or videos can blow up the Internet. Silly pet youtube videos, or a world-known Gangnam Style, that you just can’t get out of your head. If we talk about products, we all remember yo-yos and fidget spinners, now it is VR and AR.

But seems that it’s just impossible to predict what content will be noticed and shared all over the web and via word of mouth.  

What makes a promotional campaign go viral

How to do viral promotion? Often we think that if our product is not an exciting and fun one, it doesn't have a potential virality. Toothbrushes are not as fun as fidget spinners, office supplies are not as fun as smartphones, and building implements are not as fun as virtual reality content. By the way, remember that ‘Satisfaction’ video? Controversial, but imagine if it belonged to an electric tools company. You see the point.

So, it’s not a matter of a product really, it is about how you present it. Interesting things get shared because people feel excited, entertained and are generally passionate about a company or a product. But it is up to you to make a product interesting. If you are looking for proof and inspiration - a great case that shows you can make a viral content out of anything is Will It Blend TV series, made by BlendTech. Who would’ve thought that something as ordinary as blenders could go viral? And yet, this idea for videos made a drastic impact on the company’s sales volume.

The bottom line is any product can be presented as exciting and fun.

Trends in the world
There are two main aspects when we talk about virality: word of mouth and the world wide web. More specifically - social media.
The word of mouth has been there forever. It is normal to want to share things that excite you, interest you or make you look knowledgeable and smart in front of others. And the word of mouth should not be underestimated.

Compare the two:
Situation #1
John sees a TV commercial that states that a certain wash powder is amazing, super-economic and easily removes obstinate stains.
Situation #2
John chats with a colleague over the coffee. She says her son has nosebleeds from time to time. And, oh, by the way, she’s found this amazing wash powder - totally saves the day for a busy mom. All son’s T-shirts are clean as new!

That’s an example of a word of mouth in action - people are more likely to believe people around them than trust an actress from a commercial.

But when it comes to social media, we need to follow trends and adapt. We all know that millions of people use social media, but seeing stats helps us make things more tangible. According to the latest research, 2.2 billion people use Facebook and 1.5 billion use youtube.

Most popular social media portals (in millions) by Statista.

And now, Instagram has added the ability to upload longer videos to be more competitive with the most popular media portal for all the bloggers and influencers - youtube.

According to prognosis, the amount of social media users will reach 3,2 billion people (!) by 2021.

Existing and predicted numbers help us understand how important it is to show our product in social media, engage with social media users and spread our promo campaigns with their help.

Instagram also shared the news that now about 200 billion people use Instagram Stories every single day! Imagine if they shared your promo product - just how fast will the campaign spread and how big will the impact be.

What does psychology say?  

To cover this element we should ask ourselves two key questions: 
- Why people spread the news (whether talking to each other or via social media)?
- Why use promotional products to get them to share the news?

To answer the first question we have to keep in mind that people are social beings. So, everything connected to our emotions influences the shareability of the content or the news. Usually, when we share something, we seek:
- Understanding;
- Recognition;
- Status gain;
- Self-image improvement;

‘Have you seen that crazy video about a guy crashing an iPhone in the blender? It’s totally rad!’ - excitement and desire show that we stick to trends. We hear the news first and we post it first. People also share what they believe in - make a statement. They might want to receive appreciation - likes, comments, shares, etc. So whenever you want to make a viral promo campaign - start with what will trigger your target audience. What emotion do you want to arouse and what result do you want to achieve.

Why use a promotional product to create a viral promo campaign?

Because you’ll achieve two goals with one campaign. You make your potential customer your brand ambassador, and your brand awareness grows exponentially with shares, likes, and tweets about the amazing gift a person got from your company. And, of course, word of mouth will be spread as well.

We can turn to psychology to back up the fact that people generally like receiving promotional products. They are free items. Gifts. At the core of the psychological influence of free, lies the reciprocity principle. What it states is basically that when someone receives something for free, a person feels like giving something back - a payback for good, done to us, a thing given to us, an effort made for us. Dr. Robert Cialdini includes the reciprocity principle in his ‘6 Principles of Persuasion’.

So when you give a free promotional product to a person, he/she will be triggered to give something back, repay with good for a present. Become your client, buy your product, tell others about your thoughtfulness. Keep in mind that a gift should be unusual, unexpected, fun, trendy or really personalized.

What about viral potential?
As previously stated - you can make just about anything go viral. But to boost your creativity and provide options for starters, let’s look at viral promotion ideas and promotional items that possess viral potential.

This is not something absolutely new - virtual reality technology has been around for some time, but it still is trendy. Many people haven’t tried it yet, many companies haven’t used VR content yet. The industry is growing and so are your possibilities. Check out McDonald’s campaign for inspiration.


AR swag
Just like VR, augmented reality becomes part of our daily lives. Using this technology to promote your company is a guaranteed way to increase shareability. T-shirts, hats, tote bags with your prints are useful already. And then imagine there are AR markers in it. People download specially created app and enjoy taking fun selfies and videos, sharing them on all social networks. To better understand how it works - see the video below.

Augmented reality T-shirt by Aiia  

Even if you are a bit conservative about what a promo gift should look like, today all-time classics get a second chance in the digital era. For example, instead of a usual notepad and a pen, present a Digital notebook. It will provide unbelievable experience, it is very useful, and it allows you to share on the Internet everything you create on paper.

Photo from top100under100

Read more: Popular Swag Revisited: Cool Changes You Should Know About

All of them have things in common:
- Trends - these items follow the latest trends, the result - emotions of surprise and excitement;
- Fun - bringing people positive emotions is the best background for a viral campaign;
- Useful - the more people use the item - the more exposure it gets, and the more people appreciate your gift.

Landing pages, QR-codes, and hashtags will do you good, so think of possibilities to use them in your campaign.

Getting the right product

To understand what product will sweep your customers off their feet, it is absolutely necessary to answer the following questions:
Who is your target audience?
What are their interests/wants/needs/pains?
What is the precise goal you want to achieve?
How much are you willing to pay for a mind-blowing campaign?
Would you use the present you give to your audience?

Don’t forget that there is always an option to create a specific product from scratch. There are producers, who can provide you with a proper service, and follow your idea from the first draft to mass production.

Read more: How to Make the Most Out of Promo Product Customization

Virality is an important factor for a 21st-century marketing. Many are still wondering, how to make a viral marketing campaign? It is much easier than one might first think. The word of mouth and the social media are two aspects to keep in mind. The word of mouth has been around forever, but the social media sphere grows tremendously. Engaging your customers and prospects through the sphere of social is a must. Especially if you focus on Millennials and Gen Z. It is possible to make almost any product go viral, and it is up to you to make it interesting. People are always glad to share content if they are passionate about it.

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