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View Full Version : What Makes Something Viral?



KristineS
09-09-2008, 09:51 AM
Viral marketing is one of the latest buzzwords in the Marketing community. Having something go "viral" basically means that you put a piece of information or advertising out on the web and then people who are independent from your organization pick it up and publicize it. The "Leave Britney Alone" video would be an example of something that went viral. It was put out there by one person but then other people picked it up and started showing it and talking about it.

Viral marketing can be a very effective tool, the problem is figuring out what makes something worthy of being spread around and how to tap into the viral community. What would make you want to pass on a link or a video? Does the person or company who originally made it influence your decision at all?

vangogh
09-09-2008, 02:22 PM
I'm not sure anyone's figured out the exact answer yet to what makes something go viral.

Two good books I'd recommend for understanding viral marketing are Seth Godin's Unleashing the Idea Virus (http://www.sethgodin.com/ideavirus/01-getit.html). There's a link to get the PDF of the book for free on the page.

I'd also recommend Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point (http://www.amazon.com/Tipping-Point-Little-Things-Difference/dp/0316346624/). This one's not free, but it's only $10 and change from Amazon and was a NY Times bestseller.

In general you have to have the right idea, get it in front of the right people, and have them want to spread the word further. You can build certain things into your product or marketing to help all of the above along.

KristineS
09-09-2008, 04:33 PM
I have The Tipping Point and I think it is a great book. It made me think a lot about not only getting our products in front of people but about getting them in front of the right people. There is a difference.

I also have Gladwell's Blink. It's a very interesting study about how people for impressions and make decisions.

vangogh
09-09-2008, 08:25 PM
I haven't read Blink yet, but I want to. I read the first chapter in a bookstore, but had so many other books to read at the time that I didn't bring it home with me. Eventually I will.

Marcomguy
09-10-2008, 12:04 PM
Two ways to make something viral. One is to hit all the key requirements - funny, musical, weird, short, etc.

The other is to work behind the scenes and drive the viral spread of your video or blog or site or whatever.

One of the first viral marketing success stories, the movie The Blair Witch Project, had a marketing budget of $11 million. All that money helped build and sustain the word-of-mouth campaign.

Dan Furman
09-17-2008, 05:36 PM
One thing with viral marketing - you can't fake it. It has to be *good*, or that's it. And something that makes for good viral is really hard to force.

I think most go about it backwards - people say "let's get something to go viral... c'mon everyone... THINK". I think it should be more of "wow, that's a really good thing you came up with - maybe we can make that go viral."

Maybe a company should let their most creative people just "play" for a day every other week with the computer / video / writing / etc - just let the nuts goof around and see what they come up with.

vangogh
09-18-2008, 03:37 AM
Dan I agree. For something to go viral it really needs to have viral components built in from the start. It needs to be something people want, want to tell others about, and be easy to tell others about. Another idea is something that becomes more useful as more people use it.

A classic example is hotmail. This was the early days of email. It was free and a good service. It was the kind of thing you wanted (an email address) and the kind of thing you wanted to tell other people about (Here's my new email address)

Every email you sent had a link back to hotmail so the recipient could sign up making it easy to spread.

I think in most cases you can't always make something go viral. What you can do is understand why things generally go viral and do as many of those things as you can.

I'll put in another recommendation for Seth Godin's book Unleading the Idea Virus. The link to it is in my post above. The book is a free PDF, though you can also buy the print version if you prefer. It's all about viral marketing and why some ideas go viral while others don't. It describes all the different components so you can understand what they are and build them into your own products and marketing.

Paul Elliott
09-19-2008, 04:38 PM
I'll put in another recommendation for Seth Godin's book Unleading the Idea Virus. The link to it is in my post above. The book is a free PDF, though you can also buy the print version if you prefer. It's all about viral marketing and why some ideas go viral while others don't. It describes all the different components so you can understand what they are and build them into your own products and marketing.

Thanks for the link, Steve. This is an excellent resource.

Paul

vangogh
09-19-2008, 07:03 PM
Glad to provide it Paul. Someone pointed me to it a couple years ago and from there I went on to several more of Seth's books.

KristineS
09-19-2008, 09:55 PM
I think in most cases you can't always make something go viral. What you can do is understand why things generally go viral and do as many of those things as you can.



I think this is so true! What astonishes is me is Marketers who think they can make something go viral just because they want it to do so. Most things that someone sets out to make viral, don't happen. Whatever it is has to have the right combination of factors. If all the stars don't align properly, it won't happen.

XACconsultant
11-07-2008, 10:01 PM
I agree.. thank you for the link!

Harold Mansfield
12-30-2008, 08:35 PM
Believe it or not, people do actually pay others to make something go viral. There are "experts" out there that say they have the team to make something go viral.

I don't see how, but again that is why I am not an expert.