GUEST AUTHOR BLOG: Hitting the Viral Trifecta, by John Hlinko, author of “Share, Retweet, Repeat: Get Your Message Read and Spread.”
The term “viral marketing” has been around so long that it’s become clichéd. However, the deeper penetration of the Internet combined with the advent of hyper-viral social-media platforms mean that the ability to go viral is now greater than ever – as is the potential reward.
The key is hitting the “Viral Trifecta:” 1) Crafting spread-worthy content; 2) Finding those most likely to spread it, and 3) Giving it to them in “spread-friendly” places.
All too often people obsess on just one of these three things, to the exclusion of the others. But if you want to increase your odds of going viral, all three are critical.
Crafting Spread-Worthy Content
Think of your message recipients as if they were news reporters. You’re not just trying to inform them, you’re trying to “pitch” them, so they will spread your message to their readers. It’s not just about giving them information; it’s about giving them something that will make them look good if they spread it.
Whatever you do, make sure to test. Try sending different messages to subgroups of your email list, and see which ones spread the most. Keep track of which types of Facebook and Twitter messages generate the most shares and retweets. Get creative, but get the data, and use it.
Finding the Spreaders
Nearly everyone can spread a message to many others, but not everyone actually does it. Fewer still do it effectively.
How can you find and engage these effective spreaders, the “multipliers?”
The reality is, 5% of your supporters will likely do 95% of the spreading. Sometimes, it’s even more extreme. In one campaign, while scanning click totals, I found one multiplier whose spreading had resulted in over 1,100 clicks! It turns out he was a very prominent blogger. In another instance, I discovered one of the multipliers was actually a major Hollywood director – a very powerful ally to have well above and beyond email.
Once you’ve found your spreaders, you can make them even more “spread-willing” by doing things like skewing your messages towards them, and engaging them at a deeper level (inviting them to special events, giving them sneak peaks at new products or compelling news, etc.)
Using Viral Communications Platforms
While you may have eminently valid reasons to use television, radio, print, and other mediums to get a message seen and heard, if you want to get it spread, you should focus on the Internet. Your message may be equally compelling and spread-worthy in print as in an email, but it’s a heck of a lot easier for someone to click a “forward” button than to rip out the print piece, photocopy it and distribute it by hand.
Social media platforms in particular lend themselves to viral spreading, since, again, the “tell a friend” process is basically automated. That’s the whole point of social media – and that’s what makes it so spread-friendly.
Work, But Worth It
No approach can guarantee that your message will go viral, but if you craft spread-worthy content, get it into the hands of eager and able spreaders, and do it via the mediums that lend themselves most to spreading, your odds for viral success are much, much greater.
John Hlinko is the author of “Share, Retweet, Repeat: Get Your Message Read and Spread.” As one of five finalists for PRWeek’s “PR Professional of the Year” award, Hlinko has helped rally millions of supporters for causes, companies and products. Visit his website at www.shareretweetrepeat.com.
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