Going viral; harder than it looks

Caitrina van Veen maart 28, 2019 1 Comment

Cute animals, yodelling, and Superbowl adverts

If you’ve been anywhere near the internet this year you probably have seen Cardi B voicing Alexa, loads of people convincing their dogs that they have disappeared using only a blanket and a doorway, and a small child yodelling. What do these seemingly random subjects have in common? They all went viral!

The vagueness of going viral

Let me break it down for you. The term going viral was coined in 2004 but really picked up steam in 2007. The definition of the word being a form of online content (such as videos, tweets, or images) that becomes popular through a viral process of sharing via the internet.
The content spreads in an organic way, almost like an online version of a bacteria or virus. Content that goes viral is often funny (what the fluff challenge), recognizable (memes) or impressive (corgi riding a horse) and is thus deemed shareable.

The way to see if something has truly gone viral is buzz, parody, longevity, and view numbers. There is no real cut off point but we do consider content to have gone viral if it rakes in over 5 million views in 3.5 days.
The online marketing community has grappled for ages with the question: what makes content go viral? The answer being…we don’t really know? Virality needs good content but it also depends on good timing, and most of all it depends on luck.

How to go viral

There are a few points that have been proven to up the chances of content going viral:

Emotional response – viral posts often incite intense emotions. Emotions such as awe, anxiety, anger, and happiness. An example of this is videos of soldiers coming home after serving, only to receive an incredible welcome from the four-legged pals they left at home. This generates high levels of happiness and awe.   

Practical use – People tend to share content that they think might be useful for their friends and family. For instance, if you know a friend is cooking Christmas dinner for his entire family this year, you might tag him in a video explaining the magic of cooking a turkey on Facebook.

Timing – this is a slightly more abstract measure. However, the content is more likely to be shared if it is current and up to date. A great example of timely content is a specific tweet that Burger King made in response to Kanye West. During one of his twitter rants, Kanye exclaimed that not only was he a Trump supporter, but McDonald’s was also his favourite restaurant. Within 3 minutes the marketing agency Coolr had thought up a response, contacted Burger King HQ, gotten approval, and tweeted the three word diss.



Be prepared to work hard

A three word diss may seem like nothing but in marketing terms, this was a fast-paced and very important move. And this goes for all the viral content. It’s not as easy as it seems, and the effortless appeal of viral content often doesn’t reflect the humongous effort it takes companies to create it.
Our advice? Don’t try to go viral unless you can fully commit to it. Know your audience and don’t hesitate to be a bit cheeky or forward in your communication; a good meme was never polite.

Want to know more?

Online marketing is a ficle business, but we are more than happy to guide and help you through it! Contact us with any remaining questions, we are happy to help out.

Let’s chat

AboutCaitrina van Veen

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