How to Go Viral: The Science and Social Media Behind Creating Online Epidemics

How to Go Viral


It hits you when you least expect it. There you were, picking up your annual report from the printer when you notice a few of your coworkers crowded around Bob-from-accounting’s smartphone. Intrigued, you peer over their shoulders.

“What are you all watching?”

“Wait, you haven’t seen this yet?”, a coworker jeeringly asks, “It’s SodaStream’s new ad campaign with Paris Hilton.”

Oh yes, you had seen it. How could you not? In a matter of days, every one of your social feeds was inundated that ridiculous video, featuring a reality star trying to vaguely sell you that odd contraption you pass by at the superstore. Despite the video’s vague, soft sell of the actual product, it worked–they gained your curiosity and your attention.

The video in question is quite perplexing. One drop of a miracle liquid is said to have the hydrating effect of one full glass of water, putting an end to the disastrous environmental effects of plastic bottles. The claim is preposterous, but you are thirsty for more information and follow the link to purchase a SodaStream, the in-home soda and sparkling water maker.

The question is, how did a campaign that was intentionally misleading and only tangentially related to the actual product become so pervasive on social media? Why do some campaigns go viral and others never seem to reach the ever-important untapped target audience? There really is no one-size-fits-all solution that will tell you how to go viral. However, successful viral marketing campaigns have a few commonalities that can be replicated and turn ripples into waves. Viral marketing campaigns act very similarly to their etymological counterparts, viruses.

The bottom line is, the question should NOT be how to go viral, but how to produce beneficial and relevant content that appeals to your target audience.  If you do it right, the audience will do the work for you!

About Anthony Charmforoush

Anthony brings a keen attention to detail, positive attitude, and constant drive to his role as client services coordinator at Findsome & Winmore.

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