Towin-300x149There is no magic formula for making your branded content go viral – but some marketers, like Procter & Gamble and their “Thank you, Mom” campaign, make going viral look easy.

The company’s “Thank You, Mom” video has over 18 million YouTube video views to date, and it’s no lucky accident. P&G had a solid plan in place months before Sochi. So what can we learn from leading sponsorship marketing campaigns to apply to our own media strategies? Here are three tips.

1. Content: Consider the three “E”s.
To get users to take action, branded content should provide value to the consumer by way of entertainment, education or emotion.

P&G’s video is less of a commercial and more of a storyline, showing how moms help their kids get back on their feet time and again. In an era where quick hits and six-second videos reign, P&G actually does the opposite. They use a full two minutes to show – not tell – a complete story, from the first time the child puts on a pair of ice-skates to winning a global title, all with mom cheering alongside. P&G sidelines a product focus in favor of a strong emotional hook, creating a connection to its audience on a personal level and building trust.

2. Strategy: Play a long game.
Months before the competition even started, the video had millions of views on YouTube. P&G started early with promotion, ranging from press releases, pre-roll campaigns, targeted display ads and promoted social posts. They used a 30-second version of the ad in broadcast buys to spike interest, driving users online to view the full form version. The company used targeted banner ads throughout the campaign with the call-to-action “Click to Watch Film,” implying that it’s more than just an ad.

P&G also used the video as the foundation for a social media campaign across several channels in order to drive video views. P&G created Facebook and Twitter pages during the London event titled “Thank You, Mom by P&G” for the first campaign. For the Sochi, it leveraged its current fans and used targeted social posts to garner video views for the newest installment.

P&G also created vignettes of athletes like Gracie Gold, highlighting their road to first place and thanking their moms. These were posted to the P&G social channels and also aired during broadcast. The vignettes supported the overall campaign and directed the audience to view the full-length video. The hashtag #ThankYouMom was used throughout the campaign to tie together the content across social media.

3. Media: Really “get” your audience.
P&G’s portfolio boasts household brands like Tide, Pampers and Bounty. While laundry detergent may not evoke emotion, the storytelling in the ad spoke directly to the people who buy it.  The video is clearly directed at moms, who make the majority of household purchase decisions. P&G tugs at parents’ heartstrings by illustrating the basic emotion of wanting to care for and help your children, and suggests how “moms like you” can raise children who fulfill dreams. Evoking this emotion creates a connection between the brand and its audience, without having to mention any of its actual products.