Points to consider when trying to make something go viral:
- Provide value – people only pass on good/relevant stuff.
- Be unexpected or unusual – if what you offer is just the same as everything else out there, why would people be interested enough to pass it on?
- Small Changes Matter – compounding means small changes make massive differences. Therefore you need to test measure and improve like mad and keep adding extra elements that will help your feature go viral.
- Make it easy to pass on / lots of opportunities to pass on.
- Make passing on the info part of the process/experience/interaction.
- Provide good reasons for the person to pass on the information.
- Have good reasons for the person to receive it.
- Increase frequency of use. Repeated engagement creates more opportunity for the user to pass on infomation, this will improve viral spread.
- Leverage systems. For instance on YouTube individuals with large subscriber lists are far more likely to appear featured on the home page.
- Harness the power of opinion makers. Some individuals have massive Twitter or Youtube followings getting them to give you some attention will give you a massive publicity boost.
- Let users participate in the process. The activity users generate with participation will help attract attention. For instance parody videos help draw attention back to the original video.
- Seed system – drive some people into the system to get it going. Facebook was started when the founders copied the yearbook photos of all the graduates at Harvard into the system. You will need to get enough people into the system to prevent the viral effect being killed off by random variance in user activity.
- Smaller populations go viral faster. For instance if someone you don’t know in a foreign country joins facebook you probably don’t care. But if someone you work with joins you do care. The more tightly linked the recievers of the information are the more likely it is to go viral. This is why facebook started tightly focused on University campuses.
- Piggy back on someone else’s viral. For instance paypal piggy backed on the growth of Ebay.
- Your viral does not have to be totally self sustaining to be of value. As this requires that on average every new user generates at least one new user. This is extremely hard and very few people will be able to develop a viral like this. If you do then you have the new Hotmail, Myspace or Facebook on your hands. However using viral techniques can still help you, if you simply treat them as a magnifying factor for your other traffic sources.
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