Let’s Get Viral! (Week 8 Readings)

Viral Content—we’ve all heard of it, we all love it, we all want it—but how do we create it? Well let’s first start out by noting, it’s NOT easy! Viral content spreads fast, it creates a sensation for people who begin to share it to people who share it, and that basically keeps continuing until a mass audience has viewed it. Content that goes viral needs to have that special something that gives it that certain “viral edge.” Popular themes for viral content are: humor, controversy, surprises, interesting, practically useful etc.

Courtesy: Ivelin Radkov

According to Digital Strategist Mark Smiciklas, the five key elements of viral content are: share buttons scarcity, skimability, practical utility, and consistency.

Share Buttons: share buttons are links below or above content that easily lets viewers share the content to other people on the net

Scarcity: when content isn’t common and people feel the urge to make it common.

Skimability: people don’t have time to read everything nowadays; there must be something that quickly catches the viewers’ attention.

Practical Utility: a viral theme that approaches a strategy for completing something so users can easily follow along and put into practice.

Consistency: content that is consistent builds trust and credibility. This keeps viewers intrigued into your content.

Viral content really is like a virus, it has to spread to people and trigger some sort of effect. Derek Halpern talks about getting “contagious” in relation to creating viral content, and that is exactly what it is. For instance, Coca Cola created a viral video and you can see how quickly emotions played into it for those involved and those viewing.

So it all comes down to the original question, how do we create this viral content? According to Dorie Clark, there is a specific “science” to it. The best way to go about it is to try and hit the trigger effects that actually impacts viewers enough into spreading the video. Viral content has to make that separation between normality and incredibleness. Remember, it’s all about attracting an audience, and you have to ensure whatever you create will have enough effect for people to spread it on amass scale, thus making it viral.

What specific theme or emotion do you feel is the most important when creating a viral video?

What is your favorite viral video, and why do you think it was so successful?


8 thoughts on “Let’s Get Viral! (Week 8 Readings)

  1. Gavin, I don’t think any one emotion is more important than another. Although some are more powerful than others, a brand may want to focus on a particular emotion because it is more inline with their brand. For example, GoPro would most likely want to elicit awe because of the unbelievable things you can do with a GoPro.

    I don’t think I can pick just one viral video. I will say that I tend to share more comedy when I come across it. If it literally gets me to “LOL” I will repost it and send it to family. All of the videos I’ve shared are ones that I’ve thought about well after viewing it. They’re ones that make me smile or laugh just when I think about them. That’s powerful!

    • Understandable, Erin. I agree with the emotional appeal should have some relevance to the audience your attracting to your brand. It’s tough to pick a viral video, it’s crazy right? We’ve seen so many over the years and they all have had some sort of emotional impact on us. As you said, anything that can make you smile or laugh when thinking about it, is powerful! That’s why these viral videos are so amazing.

  2. I’ll agree with Erin on this one. I don’t think any emotion is more important than the other. It all goes back to the brand. For example, the insurance industry is big on creating negative emotions to encourage people to buy policies. Someone who went above and beyond recently was Nationwide Insurance. Their “Mr. Mayhem” campaign made very serious events come off as comical. The character has over a million and a half fans on Facebook. This well thought-out campaign (from an insurance company no less) shows that brands are creatively appeal to multiple emotions and be successful.

    Nice post by the way!

  3. I think one emotion can be, not necessarily more important, certainly carry a heavier weight than another, on a personal basis. My reaction to specific types of humor can differ from yours, or my emotion triggers can be more easily reached. If that makes sense? What I am trying to say is that different people put different weight on different emotions, and that has to be factored in to target audience and goal when creating a viral campaign based on emotion.

    • That is very true, Lesley. I’m glad I posed that question on what emotion is most important. I knew there really wasn’t one that was valued over another based off of the campaign you or your business is running. I absolutely agree that there is a different weight pushed on each emotion by whom you are pushing content to.
      Thanks for your reply!

  4. I completely agree with Lesley on this one. Everyone places different levels of importance on emotions and has different emotional triggers. When it comes to viral content creators should just try to make the audience feel something because chances are that something will be different for different people. Currently the viral video that is constantly repaying in my head is What does the Fox say from Ylvis because the kids that I work with won’t stop singing the song. I remember Ellen DeGeneres showing the video on her show a while back, but the video is continuing to gain momentum with the band behind it most recently appearing in Jimmy Fallon and the Today show.

    • That’s interesting, Emily. I see how people have different viral content that stands out to them. I also understand the emotional element depends on what you are targeting, there really isn’t one better than the other, just depends on the circumstances of which emotion you chose to target.
      Thanks for you reply!

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