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An interesting thing that has happened in the years since computers became a household item and the internet became a daily part of our lives is the phenomenon of “going viral” on the internet. Videos, articles, ideas, can all spread faster and wider than ever, and it’s something that businesses can leverage to their advantage, if they’re savvy and a little (or a lot) lucky.
The first thing to know about “going viral” though is that it IS dependent on a large degree of luck; there’s simply no way to make your content or idea go viral, and certainly not to guarantee it. It depends on what issues are hot, how people are feeling at any given moment, and a number of other factors that aren’t in your control.
However, there are some things you can think about when distributing your idea or content to make it at least a little more possible that it could really catch on. Here are a few:
1. Strive to Stir the Emotions
People who are sparked are more likely to cause a flame. That can be in good ways or bad – if they’re ecstatic or incensed about a news story, they’ll share it. If it amazes them or makes them laugh or answers a question they’ve always had, they’ll feel something and want to share that feeling. It’s important to focus on strong feelings and use them as the driving force behind whatever idea, message, or product you want to send out. Positive emotions generally tend to do best.
2. Make Sharing the Point
Along with the previous point about tapping into emotions, another thing you can do is to do something that makes them feel emotion ABOUT sharing your idea. For example, the “Share a Coke with…” campaign: the idea is for a person to see a can that says “Share a Coke with…David” and that person will be filled with emotion about their friend Dave and will want to buy it for Dave to share with him that they were thinking of him.
3. Provide Practical Value
If it’s useful, it’s shareable. Unique tips, ideas, hacks, insider’s info, interesting articles to help you plan your next vacation in ways or to places you wouldn’t have otherwise thought of are the types of things that are likely to be passed around.
4. Use Conversational Triggers to Your Advantage
Sports, weather, breakfast, political elections and other current events – these are all things people talk about on a regular basis. Link your content to conversation topics that are commonly discussed to trigger mention of your idea or product in regular social conversations.
5. Promote, Don’t Hard-Sell
You want your idea or product to be catchy, and if it catches, you want it to be associated with your brand, image or personality, etc. But don’t be in-your-face about it or overly promotional about it with a pushy, hard-sell tactic. Viral ideas, videos, and posts get passed around naturally – remember, you can’t force it and the more you have to try to force people to love it, the less likely they will be to pass it on.
6. Be Ready: If It Catches, Be Prepared
It’s not going to do you a whole lot of good to get your idea to catch and go viral if you don’t have the resources in place to handle the good fortune. If you’re selling a product or service, make sure you have the infrastructure to capture the potential business that comes in – a good website landing page to make it an easy process for the increased potential interest to become increased clients, have adequate fulfillment and shipping capability at the ready, etc.
And of course: have a great idea to begin with!