So, You Think You’ve Got A Viral Idea? Now What…

You’ve come up with an awesome content marketing idea. In fact, it’s so good, that you reckon it’s got the potential to go viral. Stop (hammertime!?)

In this post we’re going to go over some of the fundamental characteristics. The things that content that does go viral tend to have. 

Unfortunately there’s no 100% formula to guarantee virality, but if your idea isn’t at least ticking some of the ideas in this box, then it might be time to go back to the drawing board.

Let’s start with what I’m talking about when it comes to virality.

  • I’m specifically talking about creating viral content for marketing purposes. I’m not talking about building virality into a product, or making an idea viral.
  • My definition of viral content is content that is circulated rapidly on the internet. It should have a viral coefficient higher than 1. A viral coefficient can be thought of as the total number of new viewers generated by one existing viewer. A viral coefficient above 1 means the content has viral growth and is growing, and a coefficient below 1 means that sharing growth is diminishing.
So, what are the characteristics of content that goes viral?

1. Does it create social value 
In his excellent book, ‘Contagion, The Science of Ideas’, Jonah Berger lays down this fundamental rule of virality

Will sharing this make me look good to others
One of the fundamental reasons why people share online is to make themselves look good. Why? Because the choices we make (anbd share) signal our identity – it’s who we are as people. That’s why we share all the good stuff (cool parties, holidays) but don’t share losing our job, or failing an exam…
So what can we do to make people look good and create social value for them?
  • Make your content remarkable. This is a bit of a no-brainer, but the more remarkable (unusual, interesting, extraordinary, worthy of attention) your content is, the more likely people are to share it.
Pro Tip: There are a few different ways to do this
  • Can you break a pattern that people have come to expect? At Distilled London office at the moment, we’re regularly chatting about Norweigan Air. They’re a low cost carrier (like Ryanair) but their service levels are really high (great legroom, great customer service). It’s new, it’s different, it’s a change from what we were expecting, and therefore it’s remarkable.
  • Can you make people feel like insiders. If you can provide people with something that is totally new or unique to them, then they are more likely to share that knowledge, as they’re the firs to know about it. You only have to look at the success of membership only sites e.g. Achica, Gilt Group to know that exclusivity has incredible power to motivate people. So how can we get this to work for us as content marketers?  Launch content to a few select people. Giving people the opportunity to have inside knowledge is massive social currency. Not convinced, read how Disney turned 7 outreach emails into 350m impressions.
  • Leverage game mechanics. It’s a fact that people like to look good. More interestingly, people like to look good relative to others.
Spot test: Would you rather earn A – £100k if your peer group was earning £200k? Or B- would you rather earn £50k if your peer group was earning £25k?

If you chose option B, then you chose with the majority. People would rather earn less money ut be relatively richer. Basically people like to look good relative to other people.
So how can we build this virality into our content. A great example of this is from UsVsthem, a content marketing startup backed by The Daily Mail. Their ‘How Northern Are You?’ game was hugely successful. 3.8m people have played so far, and at one point 20k people were playing it at the same time!

So what has this got to do with game mechanics?

via Distilled http://www.distilled.net/blog/test/

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