Nearly every single day on the internet a piece of content – such as a youtube video, a picture, a blog post, etc – goes viral. Viral content comes in many different forms whether it’s a video of a talking dog, a cute picture of some kittens, an amazing invention, accidents, a newsreader fluffing his auto queue lines, an inspiring speech, etc. In only a matter of hours – or even minutes – viral content can spread like wild fire across the internet via Facebook, Twitter, forums, blogs, etc.
Many people – and businesses – would like to have their content go viral. Whether it’s a new song by a band, a new product by a business, a fundraising campaign by a charity, etc – having your content being seen by millions of people can bring many benefits such as brand awareness, increased sales, etc. Another potential benefit of having content that goes viral is that you are effectively getting millions of pounds worth of advertising for free – often worldwide, which would normally be beyond your budget.
So, it’s no surprise that many people want their content to go viral. However, this is easier said than done. How do you get your content to go viral, to spread across the internet, to become contagious? One person who thinks he can answer this is Marketing Professor Jonah Berger, who has provided a strategy for making your content contagious in his new book: Contagious: Why Things Catch On.
Berger claims the first step to making your content go viral is to make sure that it has emotion. If your content is not able to generate a strong response from people e.g. happiness, anger, envy, curiosity, astonishment, awe, etc – then it has no chance of going viral.
Furthermore, Berger lists 5 fundamentals required for your content, to make other people want to share it: social currency, triggers, public observability, practical value, and storytelling. When these elements are combined then people are likely to want to share your content. When people see it – on a psychological level – they are encouraged to share the content, as they want to appear intelligent, helpful and receive credibility from their peers by being seen sharing valuable content. This combination of factors often gives people an urge to hit the “share” button on e.g. Facebook or re-tweet on Twitter, etc.
You don’t need to be a brain surgeon to create viral content, but being able to understand human psychology – what makes people tick – can increase your chances of creating content that goes viral. Just make sure your website can cope with the surge in traffic if your content ever does become the latest hot trend.
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