Lessons on viral marketing from the Content Marketer of the Year


Growth Hacking India hosted an ‘Ask Me Anything’ on Facebook with Aashish Chopra from Ixigo. Aashish won Content Marketer of the Year for creating videos that reached over 120 million views. Some of the questions and insights shared on his AMA have been encapsulated below.

How did you get into content marketing?

Content marketing was a natural evolution after years in social media and website development. I realised that everything revolves around remarkable content.

What kind of content do you most enjoy creating?

For me content marketing helps change the world, one piece at a time. I enjoy creating content that solves user’s pain points and celebrates happiness.

How do you know what content to curate and if it will work? What KPIs do you use to measure this content?

I've created a five-point checklist to come up with topics

  1. Inspirational
  2. Useful
  3. Topical
  4. Celebrate the viewer’s life
  5. Change the world

If the content falls in these buckets it's a go, otherwise I trash it.

The magical metric I use is to track its shares and then reach. Success is decided by these two factors. Also, the game just got tougher; now if a video hits a million it’s a hit, last year it was only 100,000 for us.

For viral marketing on social media, would you suggest video or image content?

I prefer videos, it's a more immersive experience. It depends on your resources; if you can make a video, great, otherwise stick to memes and images. Your top priority should be storytelling.

Content marketing is like a rocket ship, you need fuel every day for it to go further and sometimes you need nuclear fuel to take it light years ahead! Start with images as everyday content and invest time and resources for the nuclear video once in a while.

Can you describe some metrics you’ve observed from your videos going viral that have driven traffic to your website?

In January, Ixigo launched an innocent little content experiment. This experimental video hit 50 million views organically and sky-rocketed our app installs on both iOS and Android. The CTA to use the app on the Ixigo Facebook page drove app downloads too. If you have powerful content your brand gets noticed and the ROI baby starts to dance!

Is uploading a video more effective on YouTube or Facebook?

For the success of YouTube videos you will require a solid subscriber base, which will take up to months or years to build. Many brands already have their presence on Facebook. Facebook currently wants to dominate the video space and its distribution. Its algorithm is favouring more video content on the news feed. All the more, Facebook has sharing in its DNA, unlike YouTube. Shares is an integral metric that can make or break a video.

Describe some tools and processes to be followed for effective video marketing.

1. Pick kick-ass topics

2. Find a video from around the world, which comes close to what you want in terms of sensibility

3. Get your video guys or film-making students (Keeps costs low. They are a passionate and skilled bunch! I love them) to shoot it.

Do you think virality happens only for market niches?

I believe virality can happen as long as there’s compelling share-worthy content.

As a very small percentage of content goes viral, do you think it’s a good idea to incentivise viewers to make it viral?

First, the content should be compelling enough for people to share it. Incentivising hasn't worked for me in my experience. The real goal must be to have you 'share' out of choice, not by a mail from your boss or arm-twisting by a friend. What’s crucial is when you release the content, ensure you get the initial benchmark shares, like a 100 shares in the first 10 minutes. Seeding that is very important. It gives the content a jump start. Outreach to blogs, news sites for them to pick it up.

Do you think it’s a good practice to piggyback on Internet trends?

Absolutely! News jacking gets your content super fast reach and engagement when done right.

Your video has been virally shared on WhatsApp, but how did you track and measure that?

WhatsApp is an enigma! The only (old school) way to track WhatsApp is to share something in a user group first, say your company group. If it comes back to you from your family or peers then consider it a hit. Until we get analytics for WhatsApp, this is what I do.

Is it better to have a lengthy blog or 4-5 short corresponding videos?

Blogs remain the king of long-form content. Videos dominate short form quick and easy 'snackable' content. The attention span of your consumer is very short, so if you have a long blog, compress the key points and make a video out of it.

Can you share some tips on how to get YourStory, Mashable etc., to pick up your content and spread it?

It is important to cultivate relationships with blogs. Having said that, if you focus on creating kick-ass content they will come after you. Stick to a schedule to create industry-leading content. “Be so good that they can't ignore you.”

How can I be an influencer on LinkedIn and make my content more engaging to gain traction from new clients?

Super value content with actionable insights gets widely shared on pulse, LinkedIn’s version of newsfeed. At the bottom of your article, create an option for people to subscribe for more via email. This way you’re collecting users from LinkedIn only. As you start building that list and distributing content to them, your content starts getting shared in the LinkedIn ecospace, and it attracts more views and shares.

What is the best way to measure performance of digital ad spending across different ad platforms?

To be honest, we have two teams in our office, one which spends money and gets results and then there's us who get results without spends. To me spending is easy, but getting there organically is startup swag!

For an app called WiFire that lets you connect to free WiFi hotspots in India, which three marketing channels would you recommend we focus on to get to 100,000 downloads?

For an app that provides Internet, which has become a general need for the public, I would suggest that you pick channels where your users spend most amount of time, like Facebook and WhatsApp.

Can I distribute the same content in different platforms? For a fintech startup, I had created content on my blog titled, 'How to become a millionaire by 30.' Would you advise I make a Slideshare, FaceBook video, and infographic of the same?

Definitely. The more you can re-package and distribute your content the better. Blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Slideshare, mailers etc. Wherever you can build an audience base.

I have a startup called DoPartTime.com that caters to a niche audience looking for part-time jobs in India. Do you think a video on 'rare part-time jobs in India' or one on 'confessions of part-timers' would take off?

Great, you've come up with two topics. Create 20 more and then finalise it to five and execute those five.One ought to work. Personally, I like 'Confessions of part-timers'. Keep in mind you have 3-6 seconds to hold their attention on their newsfeed and 1-2 minutes to tell a story.

Here are more ideas - 'Things part-timers hate about full-timers', memes around 'Living part time in a full-time world', 'World's greatest part-time jobs', 'Part-time jobs of greatest people who ever lived', 'What if…' (Create a list of ‘what if’ scenarios).

Are there any offline strategies to promote online content?

In the offline world you can create more personal impact and have users connect with you. But in terms of scale, a video that can reach 50 million would be restricted in a room full of only hundred people. It’s only when your content goes online and gets organic shares that the magic happens.

What is your no.1 hack ever?

Hacks to me are happy accidents that occur out of tons of experimentation. My number one hack is to focus on the user! Make their life easy and they will come in millions looking for you, downloading your apps and becoming your evangelists.

(Copy credits: Anisha Abraham – Growth Hack India)

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)