“Viral is not a strategy, it’s a lottery,’ says Geoffrey Hantson. If you’ve ever had a client ask you to “make it go viral” then you will want advice from this man. Speaking at the recent Loeries International Seminar of Creativity in Cape Town, Hantson is the brains behind the hugely successful TNT “Push to add drama” campaign as well as outstanding work for Smirnoff.
The executive creative director of Duval Guillaume Modem in Belgium, he was out to judge the Loeries entries as well as share inspiration — and sound advice — with over 800 delegates packed into the City Hall.
Most of what marketers used to control is diminishing. “Accepting that you have no control means that your role is mainly influencing, directing and or starting conversations.”
But how do you start a conversation? The challenge with viral is that it is unpredictable. You can’t force people into tweets and shares. “Views are like sex: only the losers pay for it,” he quipped to loud laughter.
But you can increase your chances of success by following advice gleaned from years of experience.
This is important — you have to provoke a conversation. But that doesn’t mean provoking for the wrong reason. “Be provocative on insights.”
2. “Surprise me”
People want to be entertained. They want to see something they haven’t seen before.
3. Make it relevant
If you’re only out to surprise people but it has no link with the point you’re trying to make, it will fall flat.
4. Make it credible
This is why Hantson’s teams uses ordinary people in their social videos. “Online, it is very important that people can relate. And they relate more easily to other people.”
5. Make it wow!
Watch any of the social videos produced for Hantson’s clients and you can’t help but be enthralled by the work and planning that goes into them.
You can do all of this and you won’t succeed, because advertising is not a science. But invest in the right ingredients and you will see a return. “The great thing about social currency,” as he points out, “is that you can keep building it.”
But ultimately, “It takes bravery to provoke conversation.”