These days, any marketer is sure to get one request above all else regularly. “I want you to make me go viral” they say. It is the dream of every small or even large business to go viral. Unfortunately, very few understand what ‘going viral’ is. If one could just magically add a cat to a video of people eating pizza from your restaurant, it will be shared millions of times, and my restaurant will be famous, and I will never have to pay a penny for marketing again. If this were true, marketers would be out of a job. If there were a magical formula for going viral, and any marketer had it, you can be sure it would be treated as a cure for cancer. A closely guarded secret we would charge a million dollars or more to have access to. The practical realization is there is no magic formula for going viral, and if there were, it would be so common, viral videos would be as common as catching a cold.
The reality is while certain traits are more massively appealing than others, there is no magic, guaranteed way to go viral. The best that can be done is to add the elements of what makes content go viral and hope for the best. However, we can give you some tips on what makes something go viral. If your content has at least one of these factors, it has the potential to go viral, but remember, at the end of the day, the most significant factor is luck. Or at least a lot of money boosting your content. So, without further ado, here is the handy, straightforward guide to making viral content according to Jonah Berger, author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On:
1) Social currency
The first factor in going viral is social currency. People want to be cool. They want to be the first one to share a meme. They want to be in on the new hip lingo, they want to like a band before it was cool. If you can convince the customer they are in on something secret not everyone knows, you spread your social currency. This is the trick behind naming items after customers or having secret menu items.
Triggers are the things in your life that remind you of the product. Geiko scored a big win with Hump Day. They had two mascots at the time, the caveman and gecko. In fact, overall, Geiko is fantastic at viral content. With the camel, they made shouting out Geiko slogans and commercials and posting them on social media a weekly thing. Every Wednesday, people voluntarily talked about the Geiko commercial and shared photos of camels. Rebecca Blacks video, as horrible as it can be explained in large part to the song title. People shared that song every Friday. Even I have done it, and I hate that stupid song in its fat face.
See above. I mentioned Rebecca Black. Why? Because I hate that stupid song in its fat face. It brings out an emotional response in me. This is the key to Donald Trump’s success. Love him? You talk about him. Hate him? You talk about him even more. Trump has mastered the viral game either on purpose or by accident, it does not matter, that is how he won an election spending less money.
See above, I mentioned Donald Trump. What is everyone else doing? Why, they are talking about Donald Trump, of course. Recently, Nike went viral with the Colin Kaepernick ad. Viral marketing genius. Not only did they get the brand out there, but they also triggered emotions, both positive and negative at once, and even had a bonus of getting the public to go on a marketing mission of creating hundreds of images to share making fun of the original ad. People who don’t even care about football or the issue got on the marketing bandwagon with their own Nike memes. It was brilliant, and Nike not only knew it would cause controversy, but they were also counting on it.
5) Practical Value
Is it helpful? I am giving you 6 simple rules for creating viral content. Is it helpful? Yes, it is, or I would not bother telling you. People do not search for things that are not helpful. We share lunch hacks, car saving fuel hacks, 3 tips for doing this or that. People love sharing tips.
People love to tell stories. So much so, 95% of people share content by word of mouth. Most people heard about the hump day commercial at the water cooler from their friend before they saw it online. Who asked their friends what day it was on Wednesday? Did any of you in the 90’s answer the phone with a “WAZUUUUUPPPPPPPP?” Telling the story even in some way’s circles back to number one, social currency, you are in the know of the new joke. Or even better, you were in the know before it became a commercial and you get to brag you did it before it was on television!
There you have it, all the critical factors for going viral. Now, this is no guarantee you will ever go viral, but if you want to create content that goes viral, you need to have at least one of these elements. Remember, in marketing, you do not want ONLY to create viral content, you add viral content to your kit, and if you get lucky, one of them goes viral. Your marketing team should always keep these factors in mind when creating your marketing plan. If your company is not doing this for you, be sure to give Zilker a call, because we will.