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There is no doubt that almost every one of us has witnessed a case of a viral video phenomenon first hand. There have been numerous ads from the cats playing a piano to the latest ads on Cars all of which have attained the viral status. We also know that there is great potential in having content that is viewed by an astonishing number of people and even better if those people are interested in your content. It is important to note that video is not the only content that has the potential to go viral; in the recent past there have been quite a number of forum comments, blog posts, images, and infographics that have reached that acclaimed status of viral. Any marketer that is worth his salt has some sense of understanding of the potential that lies in marketing via the internet. However, comprehending that and coming up with content that disseminates like wild fire are two separate things - the latter being a tad bit of a challenging feat. The underlying principle here is that for content to go viral it is completely dependent on having a large number of people who have a similar emotional reaction to that content that you have shared. There have been a number of skeptical marketers that have categorically proclaimed that is virtually impossible to come up with content that will go viral and the characteristic of being viral is not a product that is independent but it is more of an effect. This means that there can be a viral reaction to a given post be it a blog post or an image but the content in itself does not have the attribute of being viral.
Can you really create content that is viral?
In this guide you are going to learn a number of things concerning making viral content. The aim is to give you a comprehensive knowledge on the subject matter that will help you come up with content that will go viral. The guide will cover the following:
1. What is the definition of viral content and why do people share it?
2. Understanding the customer and then charming the viewers with your content
3. Reviews of case studies of the past
4. An outline of the processes for coming up with the content that will be shared.
There will be use of some academic studies that will encompass a number of real life examples together with a couple of innovative ideas in order to offer you the best possible guidance. Remember, this is in no way a step by step guide that will enable you to make your content go viral. The objective here is to uncover the possibility of planning and designing a content that will be able to go viral and then give you some direction on where to begin. It would not be possible to offer you a step by step guide given that creating an excellent content needs to be approached to from a number of different perspectives for each business. It is not a one size fits all type of thing, because let us be honest there is a strong correlation between viral content and emotional response. After reading the guide the outcome that you should expect is that you will indeed have a clearer direction as to the path that your digital marketing plan needs to take in order to achieve higher levels of engagement.
What is a Viral Content and why are they usually Shared?
It is quite difficult to foretell what content is going to go viral; there are so many excellent contents that have achieved this status of viral and similarly there are those that have never really taken off. What makes these differences? And what similar attributes, if there are any, exist between the content that have gone viral? There was a research study that was carried out by Jonah Berger and Katherine Milkman to find out what causes content to go viral online. This research entailed countless hours of studying over 7000 articles in The New York Times over a 3 month period. Additionally, a control experiment was performed in a laboratory with a number of participants. The aim of this research was to unearth the underlying emotional component or sentiment that was in the articles that received the most number of shares to understand if there were any discernible patterns. After doing this, the scientists performed the controlled lab experiments to recreate and measure the levels of arousal in the participants in order to understand how this affected to sharing of content. It would be worth your while to read the research paper by the two scientists if you are fascinated by the workings of the psychology of social sharing and the corresponding sentiments that result in a viral blog. The findings of Berger and Milkman were as follows:
• There is a higher likelihood that positive content will become viral as compared to negative content, but the workings of this are not so binary.
• The vital component in social sharing comes down to the overall level of arousal in the reader or viewer. Basically the more highly aroused an individual is whether positively or negatively the more their activity is going to be in sharing the content in question; this is regardless of whether the content they are sharing has a relation to the cause of their mood.
• Content that is positive that is characteristically amusing, surprising or awe-inspiring is likely to be shared more often.
• Content that is negative but causes feelings of anxiety or anger is likely to be shared more often.
• Content that is not emotive or does not arouse is naturally not going to be viral
• One of the reason that people share content is because they hope that the content will result in the same social standing in others or will generate reciprocity or simply to be of benefit to others.
In their control experiment, Berger and Milkman attempted to control a number of factors such as the length of exposure, the page published, the notoriety of the writer, and other factors in order to make sure that it was only the content and its overall emotiveness that caused the reader to share the content.
What can Marketers learn from this?
If the characteristic of being viral can be comprehended via the prevailing emotional state of the person sharing, and the level of arousal, then it is possible to prepare the video content or the written content to generate the relevant emotional response. Basically, what you can learn here is that there is no need to play this in a very conservative manner. In order to provoke the necessary levels of arousal like surprise, awe, amusement anxiety or anger, then you need to be prepare to push the boundaries and come up with something that is original.
Understanding your Customers and then Charming Them
Now that we have given you some insight on why people chose to share content like they do, in a bid to make this guide as useful as possible, you should now look into creating content that is fascinating and capable of arousing your customers in a manner that it will cause them to share it. Scholars have come up with a number of personality triggers that are capable of captivating and persuading your readers. Sally Hogshead wrote in her book about the 7 personality triggers that have the potential of persuasiveness. This was written following years of research on fascination. This book is very insightful and if you are interested you should look into reading it. The following are the triggers of fascination as they were listed in the book:
1. Passion or Lust
It was noted that the companies and individuals that have this trigger for passion are capable of making connections with others and develop a close relationship with their customers. Can you think of the first time that you strutted into an Apple store and almost instantaneously you started to salivate over the latest iPhone? Well, that is called lust. Human beings often get a similar level of psychological effect when they think of food, sex, cars, and many other products or services that are capable of evoking some anticipation of a pleasurable experience.
Alarm can be defined as the instinct that is within all of us and we use it in order to stay alive in those stressful moments – it is often referred to as the fight or flight instinct. Your body will go into a state of alarm during an event such as losing your child or when you are walking in an unsafe area late in the night. Naturally people will tend to avoid situations that are not pleasant or dangerous, therefore the alarm trigger is used to warn your body of the unpleasant possibilities that would come to be if you remain inactive thereby causing your body to have a rapid reaction. Here we can take an example of the FedEx company that has amalgamated to trust (which is another kind of trigger) and Alarm to come up with a very successful business. Here as a marketer you can clearly outline the consequences that exist and then come up with deadlines. This is simply a case of leveraging fear.
This can be defined as the action of withholding something and refusing to reveal it. Naturally, humans will develop a sense of curiosity when there is a lack of fulfilment. The author of the book posits that there are 4 distinct ways in which you can cause mystique. First you cause curiosity, then you ensure that you with hold information about it, then develop some mythology around it, and lastly ensure that access to it is limited.
The key to mystique is in the narration of stories and not in the actual facts. Take the case of Coca-Cola, it is known that the secret ingredient to their drink is well kept in a vault somewhere, and the mythology here is that there are only 2 people in the world that have a list of the ingredients.
There are some cases in the social interactions of human beings in which they do not wish to be in control; they would prefer to give the reigns of control to other people. One good example of such a situation is with the personal trainer at the local gym or with a digital marketer. A great majority of the small business owners prefer to focus their energy and attention to the core business and have the digital marketing done by someone else like an agency so that they do not have to ponder over it.
Prestige can be described as a perceived sense of respect by others. Naturally, individuals will tend to obsess over the symbols of respect or rank. People will strive hard to attain high standards and the physical evidence of their so called success; this could be in the form of a simple thank you, gift card, or even a high salary. You can find a diverse array of prestige on the supermarket shelves today. Why would you prefer to pay significantly more for a product that is branded as compared to the brand of the supermarket? Why is it that an iPhone will cost so much more than a similar phone of another brand? If you intend to leverage the fascination trigger of prestige then you will need to limit the overall availability and access of your product, you can start hiking the price so that the accessibility of the product is limited. However, you need to be able to live up to the expectation created by the higher price. You should note that this strategy requires a leap of faith, patience and willingness to invest for the long term.