Your Best Viral PR Tool: Kindness

Travis SheridanThe rule in journalism used to be: if it bleeds, it leads. But lately, the internet has turned that into: if it’s mean, it trends.

The internet is a world of trolls, nasty memes and words taken out of context. And your brand still has to play in the digital sandbox that, at times, seems more like a digital litter box. But you don’t have to play nasty games. The internet is waiting for a bit more humanity and your brand can provide it…and it can go viral. You can become kindtagious.

Kindtagious is a made up word that I define as warm-heartedness likely to spread and affect others through direct or indirect contact. When kindness is used strategically as a key aspect of reputation management, brands are able to deploy a brand and specific campaigns with the least amount of friction. Kindness makes buy-in, adoption, propagation and engagement easier for a chosen audience.

A brand can foster this type of feeling and experience online and help create a refreshing new reality that can overcome environment of viral stupidity.

Below are five things that make your brand’s kindtagiousness go viral:

  1. Kindtagious is a gift without obligation. When brands use gifting as a mechanism to increase affinity, it must be done without the expectation of reciprocity. This flies in the face of a pay-it-forward campaign and has a much stronger impact. Your brand will be positioned as having no hidden agenda. This leverages peoples’ need to return to homeostasis or a place of balance. Let them just receive the gift. It will make them feel good, and they will genuinely reciprocate in novel ways.
  1. Kindtagious is inclusive in nature. If the goal is to spread kindness, it requires reaching out to an inclusive audience. An inclusive approach positions the brand as interested in diverse perspectives. Additionally, modeling this behavior sets the example for others. Remember, the internet tends to divide people. Work on campaigns that unite and connect.
  1. Kindtagious should focus on healing. Why would anyone want to kill someone with kindness? Kindness is not a weapon and passive aggression is not an attribute most brand managers want associated with their company. In an effort to make a campaign or brand go viral, healing is a much better tactic. There is a cool level of authenticity that comes from building a brand that is additive and supportive instead of damaging or hostile. Very few in branding work to establish a brand as a healing salve. The word will spread when a brand intervenes at the point of discomfort.
  1. Kindtagious is about small improvements in life. Be better. Be incrementally better. The internet is full of shortcuts. Your brand does not need sweeping kindness – just a measure goes a long way. Small things can change a person’s life and perspective. When people believe a brand has the power to create positive change in a person’s life, they suddenly start trusting the brand. Allow the internet to help tell that story of Kindhacks that are aligned with the brand.
  1. Kindtagious is purposeful and strategic. Dismiss the idea that random acts of kindness are somehow superior. They really aren’t and brands generally don’t grow and flourish based on random implementation. While some viral items are the subject of pure chance, brands should focus on using kindness in a targeted and meaningful manner. The best part about purposeful and strategic kindness is that it can be replicated. Reach and frequency still apply in marketing. Make kindness work for you.

And kintagiousness is more than a theory. The examples of kind brands are abounding: Tom’s with their successful #adaywithoutshoes campaign and Dan Price from Gravity Payments raising the minimum wage of employees to $70,000 by cutting his own salary. Both of these campaigns were generous without obligation, and they had strategy. And they both spread like wildfire across the internet creating increased loyalty and engagement from followers and nonfollowers alike.

Being kindtagious isn’t just about warm feelings and fluffy kitties. It is about creating brand affinity that spreads. Kindness is a PR and reputation management strategy that can help the best parts of a brand spread and affect others through direct or indirect contact.

About Travis:

Travis Sheridan is the founding Executive Director of Venture Café – St. Louis. Travis has spent the past decade working with more than 400 startups in California and St. Louis. He believes innovation is a process to improve the human condition. Read more about him on Travis Sheridan’s website.

Tags: , ,