Ever wondered why some social media posts get shared over a million times, while others
barely get a few meagre likes? What’s the kind of content that will set off a storm for your brand,
be the talk of town for weeks to come, and be relentlessly viraled on social media like Facebook
and Youtube, and mobile apps, like Whatsapp and Wechat?
Well, you can stop scratching your head. We posted this question to Roger Wong, our Shock
Head of Digital, and he shared with us these 6 kickass steps in the world of viral marketing,
taken from the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller book, Contagious: Why
Things Catch On, written by Dr. Jonah Berger.
But first… Why is it so important to craft viralable content for your business?
Well, that’s because people don’t heed advertisements, they listen to their peers, people whom
they know and trust. You might spend tons of money on advertisements, yet just one word from
their friends or family carries more weight than any advertisement would. Plus, when your
content gets viraled, you get free publicity from all the shares, and free air time when people talk
and gossip about it to their friends in the mamak shop, their families at home and their
colleagues in the workplace (oops, sorry, boss!). And it is much more effective this way, coming
from people that they are familiar with, they are more likely to pay attention to the content, and
further share it with their circle of influence.
Research by Nielsen shows that consumers trust word of mouth more than any other medium.
According to some statistics by McKinsey, word of mouth recommendations are 50 times
more likely to trigger a purchase.
Well, that’s reason enough for you to invest time and effort into crafting viralable content. It will
certainly give your business a big boost in sales and marketing, as it gives your brand credibility!
And not only that, it makes your brand memorable too, having been associated with the
infectious content. (Well, hopefully in a positive way. :D)
6 Steps to Contagious Marketing
So what makes certain posts and content more popular than others? Why do some stories and
rumours spread faster online?
Dr. Jonah Berger, the marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of
Pennsylvania, spent over 15 years studying how to get more word of mouth, how social
influence works and how it drives products and ideas to become viral, and discovered these 6
basic principles that drive all sorts of things to become contagious instantly.
1) Social Currency: Peer popularity of the idea
People will share a content if it will give them street cred – like posting leaked photos of a new
phone if they’re known to be a tech nerd. People want to look cool and appear smart in front of
their peers, and sharing cool, techie stuff, will make them seem like they are in the know.
So, the content you craft, will need to make people feel like insiders, or a privy group of people.
You need to create content that accord status symbols that people can show off to others.
2) Triggers: Daily reminders of the idea or product
By linking a content to a person’s everyday topic, it’s a lot easier for a person to share the
content if it had something to do with their day. Like when you say Nike, people think about
exercising. Or when you say McDonalds, people think of burgers, or for moms with kids, they
will think of the Happy Meal with toys. These brands have successfully edged their way into
people’s daily lives.
You have to design content that are linked to people’s lives, and associate it to your brand.
These frequent triggers will ensure that your brand dominates the top of mind of consumers,
and is consistently on the tip of their tongues.
3) Emotion: How much you inspire a deep emotional reaction
Producing content that evokes positive emotions like “amusement”, or even negative ones like
“anger”, is better than one that does none. Content that evokes some kind of emotional
response will get shared. For example, evoking the shock emotion, such as throwing your
iPhone into the blender, and see what happens!
So when crafting your content, focus on feelings, rather than function. It is people’s feelings that
make your brand memorable and relatable.
4) Public (Observability): High visibility of a product essentially sells itself
People want to be hip, or “in”. They want to keep up with the Kardashians (or the Joneses). So,
take some time to reflect if your marketing is influencing behaviour in an obvious manner. If the
content is of other people doing the same thing then people are more likely to consume and
engage the same content. They can only imitate if they see others doing the same thing.
For example, the Gangnam Style dance, the PPAP, Pen Pineapple Apple Pen song, or the more
recently hip “dab” dance move that has become a cultural sensation and highly viralled internet
meme. It is easy to imitate, hence making them very popular and a big hit the world over.
Design products and marketing initiatives that advertise themselves, and create the desired
behaviour that sticks around even after people have bought the product.
5) Practical Value (Usefulness): We want to share useful information
People love educational stuff that will make them that little bit smarter. And people like to help
others by sharing information that they find useful. For example, “Did you know 80% of
Malaysians are on FB?”
However, you need to make your information stand out from the crowd. You need to package
the info so that people can easily pass it on, such as putting them into formats like infographics,
or a short video. Show them how your products or ideas will save time, improve health, or save
money, they’ll spread the news.
6) Storytelling: A narrative surrounding the idea or product provides stickiness
Create a story around your idea or product. It’s a lot easier for people to relate and engage with
a story than just basic keywords. People love stories. Wrap your information around attractive
context, and people will tell and retell the stories. Embed your products and ideas in stories that
people would love to share.
For example, the Petronas video ads, made popular by the late director Yasmin Ahmad, drew
record views, as it melted the hearts of Malaysians, young and old alike.
And there you have it, the 6 infectious principles: content that contain Social Currency, and are
Triggered, Emotional, Public, Practically Valuable, and wrapped into Stories. Essentially,
Well, now that you know what makes content go viral, it’s time to implement it into your
business. And if you need any help at all, always remember that we are just a phone call away.
Remember to claim your Free Professional Consultation with our Digital Strategist by calling us
at 03- 58827008.