6 Characteristics of Viral Marketing

Viral marketing isn’t something you can exactly plan for – getting a content marketing piece to go viral on social media is like striking gold. But it’s not impossible.

If your first efforts at viral marketing don’t get traction on social media, keep at it. Just make sure you determine why your viral marketing efforts fall short and improve each time out.

Getting your brand noticed via social media grows more difficult with each passing day. Users upload 100 hours of video to YouTube every 60 seconds and share more than 4.75 billion pieces of content on Facebook every 24 hours. Add to that 500 million new tweets per day, and the chances of breaking through to a wider audience can seem virtually nonexistent.


But smart, savvy companies of all sizes are still exploding into the mainstream consciousness by creating campaigns that compel consumers to share content with their social graphs. Some campaigns are hilarious; others are heartbreaking. But all contain triggers that get people talking, says Jonah Berger, marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the bestseller Contagious: Why Things Catch On.


“Emotion is one factor that drives sharing. We see lots of funny stuff go viral on YouTube, but we also see angry political rants get shared,” Berger says. “Any emotion that fires us up–humor, awe and excitement, but also anger and anxiety–drives us to share.”


Social media is also the great equalizer: Any company can cut through the clutter, regardless of brand awareness or marketing budget. All it takes is a clever idea and skillful execution.


Jason Ankeny

1) Genuine

Social media rejects hype, so skip the self-serving corporate line. There’s only one way people will share something with their family and friends – if it’s genuine.

2) Free

Simply put, it has to be free.

3) Easy

Make your message short and easy to pass on.

4) Scalable

Don’t let demand outstrip supply by attaching your messaging to limited offerings or short-term sales – you run the risk of running out and disappointing customers.

5) Plugged-In

Use existing networks and social media groups.

6) Loyalty-Inspiring

Create messaging that engages current customers and attracts new ones, even if that means incentives.

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