Why ‘Going Viral’ is Not as Organic as You Think

Why ‘Going Viral’ is Not as Organic as You Think

Going Viral, We’ve all seen it before: A parent posts a video of his or her adorable kid, or a pet owner posts a video of their adorable cat, and it goes viral. We’re talking going viral with millions of views over a period of a few days, all to the parent or owner’s great surprise.

Most would argue that what gains mass popularity on the Internet is completely organic. But is it? New research suggests there is a group or “crowd” mentality when it comes to what becomes popular. If a peer “likes” something or gives a high rating, others are likely to respond positively as well—regardless of quality.



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This gives even more weight to third-party endorsements of products. If you can get one person to “like” or “share” your product’s message with their friends, same as word-of-mouth marketing, you will get that much more visibility.

After witnessing the capacity of the Internet to attract mass attention through viral marketing, every company now wants content with “viral” appeal. In truth, this is difficult to achieve, but not impossible.



Besides spending money on an expensive campaign or event that is naturally awe-inspiring (such as Red Bull spending $65 million to drop a human from space or WestJet’s moving “Christmas Miracle” video with almost 35 million views on YouTube) There are a few things you can do to ensure that your content will be considered valuable enough to be shared.

1- Identify key influencers:

Research the communities, media sites and influential people that are able to reach your target audience.  Then, partner with them by offering something they could use in exchange for their time and views.

2- Use advertising to reach your audience:

Determine what audience you want to reach and how much it will take to reach them. With Facebook ads, for example, you can pay per click of your content up to a set maximum of people.

3- Offer an incentive to share:

Most people are motivated to share content if it serves a purpose. Is the content useful? Entertaining? Moving? Unique? Use this as the barometer when creating your content. Or, offer a helpful discount or coupon within the content.

4- Make sure it’s easy to share:

Whether it’s a blog post, video or infographic, be sure that it can be easily shared, embedded or downloaded via email or social media.

5- Consider content that is “evergreen”:

Content focused on current event topics and themes have potential to go viral quickly, but also die quickly. Try choosing an angle that is timeless, so that it has potential to gather views well after its first posting.

If nothing else, engineering your content for greater success might help your next campaign. Otherwise, doing nothing and just waiting to be noticed isn’t a great way to gain attention for your products or services.

What are your favorite videos that went viral in 2013? Are they organic or are they through corporate campaigns?

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