August 7, 2018

5.6 : What makes content to go Viral?

5.6 : What makes content to go Viral?

Dr. Gordon Fletcher, Senior Lecturer, Salford Business School, UK

When we hear the word “viral”, we often think of cat videos in relation to social media. Viral also makes us think of virus. And while viruses might not be a good thing, we want our content to go viral. We want people to share our content, we want people to talk about our content, we want them to put it on to other locations across the Internet, we want them to perhaps open a debate with us about it.

Because if they’re doing that, they’re talking about us, they’re talking about our brand, and they’re talking about our products.

Viral marketing is one of the most effective ways to positively affect the ZMOT

The ideal viral content motivates the sharing of a positive message relating to your organization – talking about your brand, products and services facilitates engagement with the buyer persona

If we’ve got that happening, then we’ve got engagement and we’ve got the ability have further conversations and to develop our relationship even more deeply through more content, through different types of content, through different platforms, and ultimately pushing people through to our website and to our blog.

How to create something that’s viral? It is not an easy, single shot. There’s lots of different models but it’s got to relate to the buyer persona, that’s the golden rule.

Colin Telford, Managing Partner, The Candidate Ltd, UK

Viral marketing for us is when someone picks up a piece of our PR, or piece of our content or research, and shares that. And it’s most likely to happen through Twitter, where somebody would comment on a statement or a fact or an outcome from the research that we actually produced and therefore, when they reply to that or they share it or they favorite it then it goes viral across their network and that is probably the most powerful way.

Viral marketing means that content about The Candidate Ltd is shared by the buyer personas – good networks for this areTwitter

Facebook obviously does that as well in terms of the shares that you get but it doesn’t seem to be as big a reach in terms of viral for us. On LinkedIn there is a consultant with thousands connections and content can go viral there as well but not in the same effectiveness or the same manner as it would on Twitter.

In terms of have we used viral marketing, we haven’t set out to produce a viral marketing campaign before but obviously in terms of the research, and PR, and content that we do release through our digital marketing activities, we want the desired effect to be viral, for people to share this and people to interact with it and maximize the reach it actually produces so yes, viral is an outcome of our digital marketing activities, but we don’t set out specifically to create sophisticated viral campaigns.


What do you think?

Think about the last time you shared online content with your friends on social media. Now consider:

What type of content was it – was it a video, an image, a link, text, email or something else?

What do you think made you share this content? How did the authors of the content influence you to share it?

Additional material

Viral content

There are some general rules of persuasion which work online and offline. Viral marketing uses some of these tactics to encourage the buyer persona to engage with your content

Science of persuasion

Let’s have a look at the six basic principles of the science of persuasion: Reciprocity, Scarcity, Authority, Consistency, Liking and Consensus


How marketers use 20 cognitive biases that screw up your decisions…

The future of brands: as technology proliferates, humanity prevails…

Why Some Videos Go Viral…

Seeding Viral Content The Role of Message and Network Factors…

Viral marketing: Motivations to forward online content…

For chapter 5 related sections, follow:

5.0 Choosing the right digital profiles for the right audience
5.1 Facebook
5.2 YouTube
5.3 Twitter
5.4 LinkedIn
5.5 PPC optimisation
5.7 How to create content viral?