The very first second of your content marketing campaign is everything. People will choose to click or not to click on your site in less time than that, and if nobody opens the door, nobody will see what’s inside, so to speak.

Research shows that it takes us roughly 250 milliseconds to lose interest in something, so if your campaign doesn’t pop, it’ll flop and very, very quickly. We don’t know exactly how to “go viral” at will, but we have a few good ideas. What follows is a series of tips for converting your content marketing into viral marketing.

1) Harness Human Fear

A healthy knowledge of human fear is good for you. When fear is pulled to light and subdued, the subsequent feeling of elation has universal appeal. Look to the viral “Demon Baby” campaign for the horror film Devil’s Due. The fear is the hook, but the resolution generates the interest. It’s a joke, after all. This genius marketing maneuver from creative minds at Thinkmodo trumps the quality of the film it’s promoting, in this writer’s opinion.

2) Questions = Clicks

To go viral, you have to ask BIG questions, questions that are impossible to answer. If your campaign has a simple solution, then the curiosity that drives its virality will peter out. Tech chip company Nvidia successfully piqued the state of California’s curiosity with a vast, otherworldly crop circle. It looked pretty legit:

Later, it was revealed to be another prime example of viral content marketing to ramp up the company’s brand for CES 2014. When the news broke, the world was listening to Nvidia. The best part: it was simple! The whole project required wooden boards, some rope, an understanding of basic geometry and some media and online sharing.

3) It Takes Two to Tango

Don’t pitch people; talk with them and let them talk back. There’s more than one way to interact. The upcoming Godzilla movie launched a viral content marketing campaign under the moniker M.U.T.O., which is presumably an organization in the Godzilla mythos. The site is presented as a command-line interface, where the right combination of commands rewards the user with teasers for the film. It brilliantly asks that you sync it with your social media and requires that you share the page in order to see all of the videos.

This puts the power in the hands of the consumer and it worked like a charm on this writer. If you want the glory, you have to share it. I thought it was brilliant and I don’t even care about Godzilla.

You may see a trend developing here. The theme is reaction. In all three of these tips, marketing action inspires public reaction. In viral marketing, the ideal first reaction is not a sale; you can worry about sales later.

You won’t generate a sale in 250 milliseconds. You can generate interest and interest is the currency of the Digital Age. This is how you make long-lasting relationships with the consumer. If we love a single product, we’ll buy it- end of transaction. But if we love a company, we trust in everything it does. Viral marketing can be a gateway to showcasing your brand to a different audience.

What viral marketing campaign(s) made the biggest impact on you? Tell us about it in the comments section or on Facebook and Twitter.

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