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The Art and Science of Viral Content

How does a piece of web content go viral? What's the secret? Turns out, there are 4 elements to vitality. Diane Thieke explains. 

By
Diane S. Thieke,

 

Every marketer wants viral content. That is, content that is quickly and widely shared through social networks and social sharing sites like Reddit. 

For brands and companies, developing a piece of content that goes viral can be highly valuable. It can be a great way to build awareness of your brand and your product offerings. Old Spice, for example, has successfully increased brand awareness with its digital campaigns. 

So it’s useful for digital media marketers to understand both the art and the science behind developing viral content. Here are 4 factors to consider:

  • Who You Share With. With 48 hours of video uploaded every minute, competition is tough on the world’s second largest search engine. In this TED Talk, YouTube's Trends Manager, Kevin Allocca, says catching the attention of a Tastemaker – that is, someone with a large following who is highly influential – is one factor in virality.
  • Where You Share. This infographic from AddThis shows the sharing trends of 2012. The social network where the most sharing happens? Facebook –at 51% of all shares. But others may be nipping at its heels, with Twitter, Reddit, and Pinterest all growing in users. In fact, Pinterest grew almost 380,000%. By contrast, MySpace and Delicious have shrunk.
  • What You Share. People respond to content if it raises their emotions in some way, either positively or negatively. Content that is funny and unexpected seems to work very well. The BlendTec campaign, which asked “Does it blend?” and then proceeded to put everything from iPods to Justin Bieber action figures in an industrial strength blender, is still popular six years after its introduction.
  • How You Share. The ability to personalize content or make it your own is also another factor in virality, as Allocca notes. The ease with which your audience can participate increases the likelihood that your campaign will spread. Carly Jae Jepson’s single “Call Me Maybe” was parodied and lip dubbed endlessly over the last year. This certainly helped Jepson’s sales a bit, as well as the brand awareness of others, including the US Olympic swim team.

Diane S. Thieke is the president and founder of Simply Talk Media, a digital media marketing consultancy. With more than 25 years in digital media and technology, she helps clients build stronger relationships with their customers and communities, using both social and traditional channels. Follow her on Twitter at @thiekeds or visit her blog at www.simplytalkmedia.com/blog

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

About the Author

Diane S. Thieke
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