Social media has migrated from just being a platform for socialization to being a game changer for businesses. Social media is a rapidly changing environment that’s replete with ever-emerging trends. The past few years have seen the emergence of an interesting trend – viral content. Viral content comes in many forms & mostly becomes viral unexpectedly. It comes in the form of news, photos, or videos; its virility is made possible by people’s predisposition to spread juicy content on social media. For a while this has been happening without any businesses getting interested in such – however, times seem to have changed & businesses are now keen to leverage on viral content.

Why The Sudden Interest?

As I have repeatedly underscored, social media is now a pivotal aspect if you are to do effective brand marketing nowadays. Once a business establishes a social media presence, the continual endeavour becomes to lure as many people as possible to become associated with & loyal to the brand. Businesses have now realized that it’s not wise to let viral content go to waste. I like to call it “riding on viral content” & this is exactly what most companies are now doing. Viral content entails large numbers of people therefore, once you ride on it you tap into those large numbers. The subsequent pay-off is increased brand visibility & ultimate surges in product conversions.

Offer Assistance/Support & Brand Gets Recognition

People are naturally wired to acknowledge and reward heroism or any semblance of altruism. I’m mentioning about this because it’s an angle that most companies have used to leverage on viral content on social media. I’ll highlight two examples herein that enunciate this aspect. The crux is for a company to chip in as an entity offering assistance or support in some form – this really appeals to the public. The end result becomes more brand visibility & conversions. This doesn’t take away from the fact that the angles used can be quite varied though.

Let’s look at some fresh & recent examples:

Lorraine “Ndinyengeyiwo” Guyo

This is the young lady who posted a video of herself pleading for any guy to ask her out so that she would have someone for Valentine’s Day. The video initially got mixed feelings and got negative reactions. So negative were the reactions that she actually got reportedly fired from her workplace (Meikles Hotel in Harare). However, the tables turned when Acie Lumumba invited her to be featured on his 6th episode of #TLFDrive (The Lumumba Files Drive show) on Facebook Live. It went on to garner more than 100 000 views. That’s where Lorraine bared it all and narrated how she had been so victimised because of her video. She cleared the air on why she did the video – which was purely just for laughs. A nude video also surfaced just after and it was being purported that it was of her – she also cleared the air on that; it wasn’t her. She mentioned that her WhatsApp number had received at least 7000 messages. She pointed out that it got so traumatising to a point that she thought of committing suicide. She also indicated that she had only been suspended from work & was reinstated later.

How Companies Rode On That Wave

Quite a number of companies came on-board in a bid to offer assistance to someone who had been victimized because of the two misinterpreted video clips. #TLFDrive is sponsored by Premier Auto & also Nash Paints among others, thus, those brands associated themselves in helping the lady speak her story. Several other brands also took her up, namely, Mambo’s Chicken (for which she is now brand ambassador). She even did an advertising skit with Comic Pastor at Mambo’s Chicken. Jan Jam (clothing business), Avion (specializing in mobile phones) & Steward are other brands that also ended up coming forward to associate themselves with her.

The Chicken Inn Couple

On 26 December 2018 in Chicken Inn at ZITF Bulawayo, Makhosana Mguni proposed to Belinda Nyoni. Pictures of the proposal emerged & went viral on social media. The initial reactions again were quite negative – most people ridiculed the guy for proposing to a lady in such an ordinary setting. However, their fortunes changed when several brands started coming forward to sponsor the couple with respect to their wedding plans and so on. The couple got a paid-for air trip (from Bulawayo to Harare) to be featured on Acie Lumumba’s #TLFDrive show. Acie interviewed them separately about their relationship. It also emerged from that show that the reason Makhosana proposed to Belinda at that particular place was because that’s where they had first met several years back.

How Companies Rode On That Wave

Chicken Inn leveraged on the fact that the couple were at a Chicken Inn outlet when the proposal occurred. Again the crux was to offer assistance & support to a couple that had been initially ridiculed for having a proposal at a place deemed too ordinary and inappropriate. They got a paid ambassadorship (i.e. they are now brand ambassadors for Chicken Inn). Chicken Inn also pledged to provide meals for their bride price & wedding ceremonies. They are also getting a fully paid for honeymoon i.e. air tickets, accommodation & spending money. The couple went to be interviewed on Star FM & were also treated to a fitting by the clothing company Jan Jam. I earlier indicated that they were also were featured on #TLFDrive. Other brands pledged make-up, building material etc, upon their subsequent decision to get married.

Definitely, congratulations are in order for Lorraine (I heard she actually left her previous job) & the Chicken Inn couple, things turned around for their favour in unexpected ways. As businesses, riding on viral content on social media is now a powerful emerging trend in Zimbabwe. So be on the look-out for viral content and leap on it – the ROIs can be remarkable.