Beauty & Brains in Branding & Web

How to Go Viral in 2015

blog_02_300x120“Viral” is a term frequently used today to refer to a piece of content that has gained widespread attention online through social sharing. Because of the tremendous value and ROI of viral content, producing it has become a major goal for marketers. The key to creating viral content lies in understanding what factors generate interest and sharing at a large scale.

Let’s take a look at what makes content go viral:

Metcalfe’s Law

The value of a network can be calculated using a method known as “Metcalfe’s Law”. A component of this law, known as the “Network Effect” states that the value of each sharer is proportional to the number of connections in their networks. The more interconnections and ways to share, the more easily, rapidly, and broadly information can be distributed.

Viral Content Anatomy

Not every piece of content has the potential to go viral. People need to first be interested enough to share the content. This means that it needs to be relevant and worthy of their attention. Once relevancy is achieved and sharing behavior begins, the number of shares needs to be significant enough to leverage the benefits of the network they are shared on. For example, once something has been shared enough to become trending on Twitter, it’s status as a trending item maximizes it’s visibility within that network.

Sharing Motivation

Many types of content can trigger sharing behaviour. On the positive side, funny, emotional, agreeable or unbelievable content tends to make people happy and promote sharing. On the other side of the coin, controversial, embarrassing, provocative or dramatic content fuels discussion and voyeurism, which in turn catalyzes engagement and sharing behaviour.

Ultimately, the goal of marketers attempting to create viral content is to get value that exceeds the costs. Through the network effect, viral content can obtain far more value for it’s cost. Cost is often limited or constant, but the value generated from viral content undergoes exponential growth once it achieves critical mass. With a stronger understanding of what makes content go viral, you can do more to ensure that your work gets the attention it deserves.

What strategies do you employ when creating shareable content? Let us know in the comments below.

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