Business owners, marketers and clients ask me “what about going viral? How do I do it?”
This is a great question, there is so much hype about going viral. In today’s connected world it has become a key measure of success, the new media equivalent of having your commercial in the Super Bowl or Academy Awards.
Founders are rightly enthusiastic about their new product or service and earnestly wish for their marketing efforts to go stratospherically viral and with it, their product. But goingviral is no accident. Success depends on something worth spreading. Something that provokes a desire in people to share it. And that’s the first challenge.
Virality is powered by people spending their social capital recommending, linking or posting your product for free, so make it easy for them. Modern takes on tried and true methods such as ‘friend get friend’ are still valuable tools to encourage virality but you must go further than just encouraging sharing or referring a friend. You have to create a very powerful incentive to act. If your promotion isn’t doing that why would anyone bother to share it?
You also need your value proposition baked into the message as part of the viral formula. If it’s not baked in, you will waste that golden moment when a new sign-up is just a click away. There isn’t a second chance.
Another powerful tactic is leverage. Leverage can come in all sorts of guises, and the best form of leverage is hanging onto the coat-tails of someone with incredible following and reach. Best-selling author Tim Ferriss bypassed the “big six” publishers, signed with Amazon and partnered with BitTorrent to help promote his new book, The 4-Hour Chef. With BitTorrent, Ferris had access to hundreds of thousands of potential customers in one hit.
Spotify’s original success was due in part to Sean Parker being a board member of both Spotify and Facebook and using this leverage to market Spotify through Facebook.
Not everybody has access to that sort of leverage, but if you consider that the average Facebook user has around 150 friends it doesn’t take long for an attractive offer to gain significant momentum when shared.
Authenticity also helps products go viral. To have your profile built and your proposition amplified through the voices and presence of your customers, instead of expensive commercials or sponsorships, speaks volumes about your products potential.
This is where analytics play a huge role. Being able to track the virality of your product and identify the protagonists, makes it easier further leverage those people who are clearly fans.
So understand that going viral is engineered rather than accidental in most cases. Create something compelling that is easy and desirable to share. Use leverage by linking up with someone that has far wider reach and enjoy the benefits of their audience. And remember, your message must have the value proposition baked in, making it possible for anyone you reach to easily join up or buy your product or service. It’s not just viral, it’s success you are after.