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What Makes Viral Content?

From what we’ve learned on how social media affects our self-esteem, we all want validation that people are hearing (eh, reading) what we have to say. So, too, do marketers and businesses. So let’s dive in to how content spreads (and give you a head start on next semester’s learning ;) )!

6 STEPPS to Viral Content

Jonah Berger, an Associate Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, in his book, Contagious: Why Things Catch On, explains 6 STEPPS (No, it’s not misspelled. Yes, it’s an acronym.) on how to create viral content.

1. Social Currency
Sharable information has a “social currency”, that is, it makes us look good to people around us. What can you do that would make a your followers look or feel good by passing along your post?

2. Triggers
A “trigger” is something that reminds the person of the post. You want to keep your post, picture, video on the top of your followers’ minds. What in your post can achieve that?

3. Emotion
“I feel good” (du nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh). Make what you’re sharing emotional. Make your audience laugh or cry.  If your followers feel like your posts are all about you, they’ll tune you out.

4. Public
Berger says shareable content is “built to show, built to grow.” How will you make sure your followers see it?

viral content scarecrow

5. Practical Value (aka Relevance)
Is your post useful? If it isn’t, why would it go viral? Make a top ten list, a “how to”, a PSA… Make your post’s content relevant for your followers.

6. Stories
Make it memorable. Think of the latest viral video, the Chipotle scarecrow. It’s the story behind the message that has gotten it passed along (and it can be a tear-jerker for animal lovers). Tell a story that your followers will want to remember and have others remember, too.

For a bit more in-depth look at viral content, check out the blurb below.

Viral Content panel at Social Data Week 

A few weeks ago Mark Josephson, CEO of bitly, and Eric Harris, EVP of Business Operations at BuzzFeed, spoke on a Social Data Week panel where they chatted about how content spreads online.

They discussed -at length- the possibility of using data to help content go viral and whether it’s possible to predict what content will go viral next. But it’s all about experimenting.

Grab some tea/coffee/Red Bull/water, cozy up next to your computer, and watch the entire panel above.



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Carson was born in Columbus, raised in Columbus, went to college in Columbus, is now a MBA/MSA graduate student in Athens, and he appreciates you reading his posts. He is completely different from those who are not quite the same as he is.
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