Promotion…what it means to ‘go viral.’

The concept of ‘viral media’ is hot for researchers right now. Everyone wants to know why Joe Blow’s youtube video of his cat becomes a must-see overnight, and the ten billion other cat videos don’t. It’s almost mind-blowing, when you stop to think about it.

Well, marketers don’t really give a damn about Joe Blow’s cat…what they care about is the behemoth of potential marketing power that is ‘viral media.’ They want to be able to break it down into a formula and make it repeatable. We all do. Who wouldn’t want to put some nonsense on the internet at have it spread to 2 million consumers who are eager to buy the newest meme-based T-shirt?

The problem is that there is no formula…not yet. I did, however, come across a really informative book that discusses the idea of things going viral. To date, this is the best material I’ve read on the subject and it’s backed with research and case-study data.


Contagious: Why Things Catch On

There’s a ton of useful information in this book, but I’ll go ahead and key you in on one of the major things you’ll learn; Going viral is all about feelings. Big surprise, right? If you’ve been following me, you know that my mantra is: “Writing is about feelings. It’s about making the reader feel what you want them to feel.” Well, to expand upon that, almost everything you do that has anything to do with human beings is about feelings. Marketing is no exception…not by a long shot. Marketing and promoting is all about making people feel what you want them to feel.

Sometimes, though, the trick is knowing what you want them feel. In the case of viral marketing (according to this book) you will want the reader/viewer to feel like they’ve found some privileged information. You see, in this mile-a-minute world of information exchange, it’s hard to be the cool guy who ‘discovered’ the new funny video, the hilarious website, etc. So part of getting people to spread your media at viral speeds is to make everyone want to be the first to say “HEY! Look what I found!”

It’s social-need validation thing, and it really has more to do with things going viral than you might believe. Marketers and self-promoters need to know this stuff. I highly recommend that you read this book “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” by Jonah Berger.


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About jpaulroe

Freelance writer and content producer.

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