Virality. Is it a Science?

Posted on April 23, 2013 by Danielle Faber

viral

Virality. What we marketers strive for. The elusive hope that we will post something that millions of people will love and they will share it, discuss it, post it on Twitter and Facebook, and create our exposure for us. The question is, how do we achieve this coveted virality?

Many in the social media world attribute ‘going viral’ to chance. It’s widely believed that with enough followers and the right content, your video or article can make it to number one on HackerNews, or to the top of Reddit’s homepage. But if you have spent any time working in social media, you know that it’s a lot harder than that.

Jonah Berger, the author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On , attributes virality to a number of factors. In today’s saturated online world, reading and sharing content must provide value to the reader/sharer. Berger outlines 6 factors that contribute to that value: Social Currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value, and Stories.

The science behind virality is intriguing because it will guide marketing practices in the future. Our online personas have become a part of our offline identities. This means that everything we share on our personal social media accounts contributes to how we portray ourselves, and in turn how people perceive us. The creators of content always aim for virality, but content must prove to be worthy of sharing, and Berger has created a skeleton on which to base worthiness. Studying virality will come in close contact with studying psychology as we continue to delve deeper, and this will create true marketing practices rather than continuous shots in the dark.

Danielle is a Social Media Coordinator at 88 Creative. Follow her on Twitter at @DFabes

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