Social Media & Advertising Done Right; Viral Marketing Campaigns of Cronuts, ALSA Ice Bucket Challenges & More

Global brands will often put out a slogan, heart-felt campaign, or a hilarious skit regarding their products and it’s no surprise when it goes viral. What does take some consumers by surprise is when the small brands get their 15 minutes of viral fame without the use of big advertising firms. Today, we at Lucid Blue Media would like to relate a few examples of how the little guys got their brand to go viral to inspire.

1) Dominique Ansel Bakery – The Cronut
The French-born, New York-based bakery owner, Pastry chef Dominique Ansel had limited indulgence with donuts, preferring the familiarity of the croissants he had grown up eating. But when a patron pointed out that he didn’t have a donut on the menu, Ansel decided to invent a new kind of pastry that was inspired by roots and the Cronut was born. After a food blogger tried a Cronut and published the experience, traffic to the bakery website rose by more than 300 percent, and hundreds would line up every day to get their hands on the hottest pastry trend.
Viral Best Practice – Focus on Quality, Not Quantity
To ensure quality of the tasty new treat, numbers were limited. Ansel’s team takes three days to prepare each batch of Cronuts, creating just 350 Cronuts a day in their bakery. Ansel created a controlled demand that he could meet without sacrificing quality by managing the output of his pastries and avoiding the draw of producing more than his team and facility could manage. After four years, there is still a line before opening for those who flock to indulge in his delicious treat.

2) ALSA – The Ice Bucket Challenge
The Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association launched one of the most successful viral campaigns of all time in 2014. To raise funds and awareness for ALS research, celebrities like Justin Bieber, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill Gates, just to name a few, took on the challenge and dumped buckets of ice over their heads. The campaign went viral and had raised more than $220 million for ALS organizations worldwide by the time the videos had stopped filling newsfeeds around the world. Reaching the fifth most popular Google search for all of 2014, awareness of the disease rose. Just a year after the ice bucket challenge went viral, research that identified a new gene, NEK1, contributing to the disease was funded by the money earned in the viral challenge.
Viral Best Practice: Look Outside the Target Audience
Though most of those who made a donation during the craze never made a second, the overall A.L.S. contributions have stayed inflated and sustained a 25% increase than the year before the challenge, and the average donor age has dropped from above 50 to 35. Not only did they boldly reach out to those outside of their target demographic, but they opted for alternative marketing tactics using video, and A.L.S.A. was able to bring in millions in one-time donations, raise brand awareness, and gain an overall contribution baseline of 25%.

3) Niantic Inc. – Pokemon Go
When Pokemon Go became a global obsession, you weren’t the only ones surprised, but so was Niantic Inc. With a worst case estimate of five times the normal volume, the company had prepared their server load for game launch. But what they got was 50 times the expected volume and all within the first 24 hours of the game’s launch. Downed servers and frustrated players would eventually dissipate the 2016’s hottest trend.
Viral Best Practice: Focus on Quality and Innovation
The creators of Pokemon Go ironed out those kinks and continued to innovate their product following the launch. Leading to a 1.3 billion increase in Pokemon caught by players, and a user spike of 13.2 percent globally, they released specials, and limited-time offerings. For example, their ghost-themed Halloween event. Niantic resisted the urge to monetize things too soon on a large scale. Instead of acting on impulse, they focused on core game mechanics, learning things on the technical side, the ops and customer support side, the community and marketing side of the game. The company was able to create, not only a global sensation, but a lasting one. With Pokemon Go being a success story of something that wasn’t expecting it, the moral is focusing on creating a quality product and resisting the urge to monetize too soon.

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