You post it, a few seconds later likes & shares spiral out of control. Next thing you know, you have gone viral! But, what was it, what did you do?
The Million Dollar Question
What makes something go viral? Ask different people and the answers are sure to vary. Emotional connection. The LOL factor. Shock and awe. Crazy headlines. Unbelievable news. As more people become “connected” within the Internet of Things companies have begun to turn away from typical internet advertising tactics such as SEO, and SEM. Instead, they have begun to turn towards social media in an attempt to reach customers in an engaging way that captures their attention and delivers a meaningful message.
Going viral, in terms of the internet refers to content that can spread just like a virus. People become “infected” when they see it, and like any good friend would do they compulsively pass it on, like a brotherly handshake after a good sneeze. This “infection” usually comes from emotions that induce people to share it so they can later discuss the content.
Many companies would kill to know what the secret recipe to going viral is. The sad reality in my opinion is that there is no magic formula that works overall. Your website content, photos, or a video you’ve created can “go viral”, your marketing can turn viral and in the case of social media, a blog, a Facebook page or group, or a tweet can turn viral. However, before getting too excited, you can hope for it, you can position your content to be at its best and most interesting with the underlying wish that it will catch on, but you cannot make it go viral. At the most, as Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman explain in their book Content Rules, you can “nudge, poke, and pray for it … [but] the truth is that viral is largely a happy accident(1).
Just about anything can go viral!
Ultimately, going viral is all about being in touch with the people around you and if you are a company of course, your consumer base. Don’t create technical and difficult content, create content that flows and vibes with your segment. It does not always need to be funny or loud, but it should definitely be useful in some way. Whether it is cheering someone’s day up or creating interesting and extremely relevant content.
Here is some of my favorite content that has gone viral, some of these are hilarious, I prefer to stay on the funny side of things. :)
Kmart Ship My Pants
“Carrie” Movie Promo Stunt
TNT Add Drama
(1) Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman, Content Rules, p. 113, (2011), ISBN978-0-470-64828-5