Nowadays, it’s nigh on impossible to have gotten to this point in your life and not experienced some form of viral marketing. Even if you do your darnedest to stay on task online, viral marketing catches up with you eventually. Whether it’s a secretive campaign to get you curious about a movie, a shocking TV commercial, or a friend handing you a self-recorded VHS tape in the 90s, chances are you’ve been exposed. Viral marketing works for the same reason we can’t cure the common cold – it’s always changing, always waiting to get you, and there’s always a ton of it all around us.
Given the lucrative nature of a successful viral marketing campaign, it’s no wonder people are trying to identify the science of viral. And it’s easy to see what viral videos have in common. The latest feline feat may seem worlds away from 2009’s most famous kid, but they share some common denominators that separate them from the rest of the pack. While it’s impossible to predict what, exactly, will go viral, there are definitely some things you can learn from the “science of viral” that will amp up your content and get your thinker ticking.
Make ‘Em Laugh, Make ‘Em Cry
But whatever you do, make them feel. It’s been shown that content which elicits a high emotional response has a much greater chance of being shared. The Super Bowl is famous for airing the kinds of ads you don’t normally see, and there’s a reason we’re still talking about Budweiser’s 2014 commercial about a puppy. The next time you’re having trouble brainstorming ideas for your content, try taking a few moments to consider what moves you. Be sure to keep it mostly positive. There’s enough bad news out there as it is, and we all want to see the silver lining. If you experience symptoms of warm fuzziness in the chest or slight watering of the tear ducts, you’re on the right track – and remember, those feelings are contagious in the best way possible.
Use This One Weird Trick to Make Your Content Go Viral
If the top five tips for keeping a green lawn in summer were the sort of thing to go viral, well, we’d all have fairly lush yards. And while these kinds of articles are absolutely helpful, when you’re looking for inspiration for your own content, there’s just not much there to draw from. Think about it: how many times have you been mesmerized by an article title that ends with “…And You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!”? In all our days of wise and careful Internet-ing, few of us can say we haven’t fallen prey to a catchy title. Anybody can come up with gardening advice, but who’s going to ignore a headline like “Not Your Grandma’s Margarita: Why Your Lawn Needs Lime, Not Salt?” By putting a (mildly) controversial spin on your everyday topics, you’ll draw attention, invite shares, and be one step closer to going viral.
When you’re stumped, don’t be afraid to break out tools that are normally forbidden. When your content creates a discussion, raises questions, and provokes thought, it keeps you in the forefront of people’s minds. Even if your subject isn’t the most controversial, you can find ways to make it interesting. For instance, “Be Safe Around Trains” is a rather mundane message, but with their Dumb Ways to Die video, Melbourne’s Metro train system used both humor and questionable subject matter to skyrocket into the spotlight. While you should never try to tackle complex social issues through the discerning lens of, say, a local window-washing business, you can absolutely take advantage of the things people aren’t talking about to grab their attention. Write an exposé on the secrets an unassuming window washer could be privy to. Tell a story. Consider the “ugly truth,” and twist it to your advantage. Give yourself freedom to delve into the taboo, and watch as the popularity of your content expands.
The next time you find yourself feeling as though you’ve exhausted all your idea options, take a break and visit the popular list on Youtube. Google “viral videos” and spend thirty minutes doing some quality, ahem, “research.” Take out some scratch paper, grab a pen, and list all the words related to your subject. List the emotions they could attach to, the jokes and the pop culture references and what you may be afraid to discuss – and use it! Wring your subject for all it’s worth. And if even this foolproof plan fails you, try out our idea generator to help you along your way.