Three ways to go viral.

No, I’m not talking about the swine flu. I’m talking about marketing messages and how you can get them to go viral. Viral marketing has become a hip, low-cost way to reach a lot of people quickly. While its not easy to do, following a few rules can help, according to Dan and Chip Heath, in the May issue of Fast Company.

An idea that is likely to catch on virally has to be emotional — very emotional. The kind of “emotional” that people can’t help but pass on to their friends. The emotion can be either positive or negative. But the more intense the emotion, the more likely it is that people will talk about it. 

If the message can be a warning or public service in some way, all the better. That’s the second trait of a viral idea. Its often a small favor like “free breakfast at Denny’s” or “did you see the kid on YouTube drugged up on nitrous from the dentist?”

The third trait is the “trigger” — a physical reminder of some sort to prompt talk about the idea, like an ad, a billboard, a product, a kid. If you can link your viral message to a common physical trigger, you can increase its ability to be talked about. 

Dan and Chip Heath say ” Viral doesn’t have to be a crazy YouTube video. But you can start thinking about emotion, public service and triggers.” It may take some creative thinking. And it may not be easy. But it can work.

–Chris

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1 Response to “Three ways to go viral.”


  1. 1 Ben Cogan May 6, 2009 at 2:33 am

    Very interesting article, the trigger and emotional engale are very wise and also very important!
    es it as to be implemented in any viral marketing campaign!


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