August 7, 2018

5.7 : How to create viral content?

5.7 : How to create viral content?

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

While there are many models out there that discuss what viral content is and how to create it, for this particular unit, we’ll make use of Jonah Berger’s six point STEPPS model. There are other models, but the STEPPS model identifies six potential elements that should be in viral content for it to have the potential, not the guarantee, of becoming viral.

STEPPS model:

  1. Social Currency
  2. Triggers
  3. Emotion
  4. Public
  5. Practical Value
  6. Stories

The first, Social Currency, really is about the value of discovering something and sharing it – so it could be a piece of content which you’ve been able to discover which gives you some value – and by sharing it, and sharing it with friends, it creates a value with them.

The second, Triggers, is an external trigger which is able to provoke emotion and feeds into a particular response.

Emotion appeals to your inner beliefs and to the inner beliefs of the buyer persona.

Public means that your content is publicly available. If you put the material onto a social media site, hopefully you’ve set it as public.

Colin Telford, Managing Partner, The Candidate Ltd, UK

In terms of content that goes viral, I think anything that is relevant to your online buyer persona, your customer base, has the most chance of being shared. The more relevant that it actually is, the more likely that people are going to want to engage with it and share it amongst their networks, networks that would be relevant to you.

The content that goes viral has to be relevant to your buyer persona and the ultimate challenge is getting that content right for them

So it is all about the content and the messages that you produce for your customers, and give that some serious thought. Make sure it is relevant, important, and topical, and then hopefully it goes viral for you.


Please see 5 MOOC filming guide

Please see example of a shot list for the Digital and Social Media Marketing MOOC – you can see how the idea evolved from this plan to the actual video.

Creating a viral video for the next MOOC

We want you to take part in the development of our next MOOC promotional video concept

You will have seen the current course introductory video for our Digital and Social Media Marketing Fundamentals MOOC –

This video Shot List (see above) was used to plan the above video and is a type of storyboard which helps to plan the story told in the video.

We are currently planning the development of our next course which will focus on the more advanced aspects of Digital and Social Media Marketing operations.

Advanced Digital Marketing MOOC

The specific focus of the Advanced Digital Marketing course will be the processes of designing, implementing and evaluating a digital marketing campaign. The four chapters of the advanced MOOC will go into the detail of:

1) Planning the digital marketing campaign
2) Developing multiple content types and implementing the campaign
3) Tracking and monitoring campaign impact
4) Evaluating the campaign and learning for future campaigns

The key difference between the current and the advanced MOOC is that in the advanced MOOC we are going to apply academic theory to real life case studies developed by leading digital marketing agencies rather than in-house marketing teams. The advanced MOOC will offer templates and industry best practice check lists helping with the practical aspects of digital marketing campaigns.

Buyer persona for the MOOC

Our buyer persona for the advanced MOOC is a small florist shop owner – Pawel Kwiat in Poland who is currently at Level 1 of the digital business maturity model. Pawel’s shop has some basic website presence and wants to increase the use of digital channels to benefit its business sustainability and growth.

JEMSS MOOC branding

As with any other communications the next MOOC video has to be informative but should also have elements of virality. The video has to follow the style guide for the JEMSS MOOC

We would like you to help us to find a creative concept which could engage the target audience of this advanced MOOC.

Share your idea

Share your creative idea – the more detailed the better – see Shot List example above.

Introduce your video concept and then discuss it using the STEPPS model if relevant. We will review the ideas at the end of the course and if your idea is selected for the video development you will be acknowledged in the video credits and the JEMSS project website as a advisory board member

Before posting your comments below, see if the same idea has been proposed by others and if so reply to their idea and refine it, if you can see a way to do so. Once you have posted your idea, comment on at least three contributions of your peers.

Additional material

Making your content viral

Wouldn’t it be great for any organisation to publish content and then have their buyer personas amplifying that content for them?

Jonah Berger has suggested a formulae for viral content:


7 Copywriting Tips That Will Instantly Lower Your Bounce Rates…

The New Science of Customer Emotions…

How to Produce Better Content Ideas…

Creative Strategies in Viral Advertising: An Application of Taylor’s Six-Segment Message Strategy Wheel…

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
5.6 What makes content to go Viral?

For chapter 6 relations sections, follow:

6.0 The importance of ongoing monitoring and learning from your engagement
6.1 Understanding of Social Capital and its importance case study
6.2 Accessing data in Google Analytics
6.3 Accessing data from Facebook
6.4 Accessing data from Twitter
6.5 Using spreadsheets to analyse and populate reports
6.6 Learning from digital results
6.7 PPC report