The Making Of Viral Music

Quick confession – this piece was written with Korede Bello’s #Godwin blasting in the background. LOL! Music is addictive, especially when you don’t discriminate against any genre.  That said, this piece is not just about music, it is about how the love affair between music and digital is birthing a whole new world of excitement and opportunities.

Now that you have an idea about where this piece is coming from, let’s dig in straight away.

Of course it is no more news that the rise of digital technology has changed every industry. Think about it for a second and you will realize just how true this is. Checkout the entertainment industry, especially the music sector and you would realize just how fast it has evolved since digital became ubiquitous. Everything has changed and is still changing – from the music label’s business models to how music is consumed by fans. Just in case you are in doubt, you only need to remember that Justin Bieber became a YouTube sensation before he became the hot shot that he is today. From internet sensation to international super star. WAOW!

Okay let’s focus. The concern here is not Justin Bieber. The concern is about how some songs go viral and some songs don’t. Haven’t you ever wondered? Pause and think about it for a second. How many hit songs go viral? Viral here doesn’t mean the mere popularity and acceptance of a song, rather, it means the total experience of the audience, more or less hijacking a musical piece and owning it in such a manner that it attains a new life of its own. To put this in perspective, Kukere by Iyanya was a hit monster track, but Surulere by Mavins was a viral beast. Another example, Gobe by Davido was a super hit track but Dorobucci by Mavins was a super viral hit.

Before you begin to wonder if this is a Mavin promotional piece, be sure to know that it is not. However, it would appear that some people have realized the importance of (and mastered) the art of going beyond making hit music, to making viral music. Here in Nigeria, Don Jazzy and the Mavin are the most consistent case-studies available. Oh well, I stand corrected.

To define the concept of viral music, “they infect us so much that we don’t only want to share them with our friends; we also want to customize and use them as tools to tell our stories before passing them on to others”. Think Oliver Twist and the exciting viral dance competition that revolved around it or Surulere and the viral “before and after” picture contest that revolved around it or even Olamide’s ‘gunman’ pose and the viral trend of gunman pose that spun out of it. This is about taking music to the level where your audience can enjoy it, own it, customize it and share it. But you must lead the way and this is how.

Tips For Making Viral Music

Whether you are an artist or a producer or a record label, these tips will work for you:

(1)    Know your audience: To achieve success selling your product, you must know what your people want and give it to them. Sometimes the audience can’t articulate what they want, so your ability to study them discover and leverage their desire and aspirations to make your music, is gold.

(2)    Understand Trends: What’s the latest? What’s happening in town now? Things are evolving at a pace never seen before.  Get on the trend wagon and if you can go a step forward to either create new trends or predict one with your music, then you are closer to making a viral song than you know.

(3)    It starts from the writing: A viral song is not just about using social media to promote your song and making it trend on twitter. Nah bruh! A viral song starts from when you start stringing the lyrics together. What’s the keyword in the song? How often do you repeat it for memorability sakes? Are you creating a new slang or leveraging an existing one? How simple are the lyrics and melody? These are some of the elements to be considered.

(4)    Strike an emotional chord: If your music is not making me cry, laugh, mad or feeling some emotional high, then why are you even in the game?

(5)    Tell a clear simple story: This is key. Your verses must tell a story that your hook can sit on. Don’t just sing; tell a story with your music.

(6)    Make a sick beat: Do I even need to talk this?

(7)    Go beyond music: Now when all the above is done, then it’s time to go beyond music to develop engagement ideas around the song. This goes beyond PR and Twitter questions. This is the #Surulere picture idea epicness. What ideas can you come up with here that will go beyond the song to connect with your audience with such profoundness that your song becomes evergreen in their hearts and minds? This is why (5) above is critical.

(8)    Crowd source: Whatever the idea you come up with, ensure it has a crowdsourcing twist to it…and maybe a juicy reward as incentive.

(9)    Consult a digital expert: Who will help you better understand your online audience and digital trends? Who will help you search out keywords and trending conversations among your online audience? Digital experts are penetrating every industry at all levels fast. So embracing us early enough might be the difference between a hit track and a viral track.

Welcome to the era of viral music! Now its your turn to tell me what you think about the idea of viral music. Waiting to hear from you in the comment section.


Don’t Forget To Hashtag

The power of hashtag lies in its accessibility. A hashtag is a word or phrase without spaces preceded with the # symbol and can be easily searched for based on individual interests on a social media platform1. As a brand running a digital marketing campaign on social media, the hashtag is a crucial part of the success of the campaign.


A typical example is the recent Valentine #iLoveMeToo contest we conducted on Instagram for the Dark and Lovely brand. The contest was centered on promoting self-love using #ILoveMeToo to share self-appreciation stories. The primary purpose of the contest was to increase brand awareness, engagement and reward the Dark and Lovely fans. Fans qualified to enter for the contest by mentioning 10 things they loved about themselves and using the hashtag #ILoveMeToo.




  • To Generate Buzz

When running contests or giveaways on social media, it is important to use a general hashtag whenever the contest is mentioned2. The hashtag will engage  followers and increase the post reach beyond current followers to their friends and people who search the hashtag directly or stumble on the post.


  • For Brand Awareness

Developing a unique hashtag for your brand can increase brand awareness, especially when it’s used consistently. Hashtags are a great way to promote and bring together updates across your brand’s social media pages .

For example, when sponsoring live events and sharing real time updates, followers and people interested in the event can easily follow the hashtag on social platforms. This could increase the brand’s fan base as more people are likely to see your pages and follow your brand online.3

Instagram and twitter are central to the success of your campaigns when you use hashtags. However, Facebook posts should have fewer hashtags as the fewer the hashtag, the better the post performs4.


  • To build conversations

Hashtags may also serve as conversation starters where they may become trends that are popular for a period of time. #ElloBae by FalzTheBahdGuy is an example of a conversation starting hashtag. Also, jumping on popular trending hashtags may be a good way to push your message and joining in on the conversation to engage your followers. This however may not be the case if the trending hashtag topic is in direct conflict with your brand values. 


  • To monitor the success of your campaign

Adding consistent hashtags to your social media updates particularly on Twitter and Instagram can allow you monitor how well your content is performing5.  It is important to use a hashtag that other brands aren’t using, something fairly unique to your brand. This would increase the likelihood of you seeing what people are saying about your brand and when. It will enable you to tailor your content better and consequently build a larger audience of loyal fans. According to BufferSocial, tweets with one or more hashtag are 55 percent more likely to be retweeted and consequently would enhance the performance of your campaigns6.



  • Be Unique

Hashtags are used to raise brand awareness with a unique brand tag or to promote a specific event or campaign. The more unique a hashtag is, the easier it is to monitor and the more likely it is that your brand is found on social media. Analyzing your hashtag is key to monitoring its success. You need to know how many impressions it’s getting, how many tweets it’s being used in, how many people are using it and more. To make sure you can attribute all these statistics to your campaign, you need to make sure nobody else is using it. This is the only way to ensure the figures you’re seeing are exclusively derived by your campaign.  Sometimes it is ok to hijack an existing hashtag as long as you are adding value to the conversation. Don’t pick a hashtag that is too vague or common, it would dilute the essence of the hashtag7.


  • Less is more

Keeping your hashtags short is more often than not, easier said than done. Once you start to see that your hashtags are yielding results, it can be tempting to overdo. Be warned though, while social media is notorious for moving on quickly, this is only true to a point8. No one should hold a new hashtag campaign every week. It’s fine to use them with every post, but give people a chance to take one idea at a time.


  • Make it relevant

It is ideal that your hashtags should be relevant to your brand, your brand essence and your campaign messaging. This gives it more visibility and increases the chances of your hashtag been useful even in the future. If you choose a hashtag that is versatile it will serve its purpose and still have a shelf life without getting redundant because it’s not in use9.


  • Make it conversational

Whenever you can make your hashtags conversational, do so. You can fit it into sentences especially on twitter and Instagram. It would definitely widen your reach


Six Two Digital – Choosing a Hashtag for your campaign (1,2,3)
TinTup – How to pick a good Hashtag (4,6)
Ink Digital Agency – Your next marketing campaign – Why it should feature Hashtags (5)
ITC Marketing Blog – The Power of the Hashtag (7,8)
BufferApp – A scientific guide to Hashtags – Which ones work when and how many (9)

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