The reality of virality comes down to understand which type of virality you want your audience to develop and engage in. Over time, we’ve seen quite a few videos, products and even documents go viral, but have you ever wondered the components, or structure, required to ID what is going on and how people are sharing it?
Things just do ‘go’ viral. They are aided by content, promotions, offers, demos etc (one way even ‘infects’ the other user)
To understand this a bit better, check out these 5 secrets on the type of virality for different approaches by greylockpartners…
This one is straightforward: It’s simply a product being so good that people can’t help telling their friends about it. For example, when Google was just taking off, people would notice you searching on Alta Vista or Infoseek or another search engine and they’d tell you “use Google, the search is so much better.” So the next time you did a search, you’d try it, and pretty soon you’d be telling others about it too.
A couple of years ago, when we got our first iPhone apps, geeks like me were telling everyone they knew about Evernote, because it lets you sync notes between your computer and your smartphone. It often happened when you’d see someone taking notes on their phone, and they’d tell you they were using Evernote and how simple it was to keep one copy of the notes everywhere.
One other key to word of mouth virality is making sure your product is easy to find later. Having a name that is easy to remember, *and to spell* certainly helps (Google is easier than Googol — the number it was named after). Missing vowels and doubled letters, not having the right domain name or app store name always make it trickier. One test I like to do when trying out new company names is check the typeahead in the App Store. If you are calling your application InstaGreatCoolThing, you might realize users typing ahead will see Instagram and similar apps before yours (until you are as big as Instagram).
Incentivized word-of-mouth virality
This is similar to word-of-mouth, but with a little added incentive for people to refer their friends. For instance, 15 years ago, Paypal would give you $10 if you referred a friend and they created an account. Similarly, Dropbox and Uber have used incentives to great effect. Refer a friend and they’ll get more free storage (and you too), or a discount on their first ride.
It helps when the incentive works both ways, as a coupon for the new users as well as an reward for the referring user when the recipient creates a new account. Because you are paying for it and discounting your service, it’s not quite as clean or pure as word-of-mouth, but it can be very effective.
Demonstration virality is when the nature of a product is such that, simply by using it, people are showing it off. One great example is Instagram: In 2010 it was fairly difficult to get photos off your phone and into some useful place, so Instagram added tools for people to easily share their photos out to Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr. Instagram’s filters naturally caught people’s attention on those networks. It provoked an instant “How did you do that?” reaction.
You can see Prisma blowing up this summer in the same way. You can create these incredible, stained-glass-like artworks with it, and then share them on Instagram or wherever. Of course people want to know how did you did that, so they’ll ask you — or they can see the little Prisma logo on the image, and then go get the app themselves.
Another example is Pinterest. If I create a pinboard of fun GIFs or wedding ideas or recipes, and I share it, the act of sharing is a built-in advertisement for Pinterest’s awesomeness.
Even Uber benefited from demonstration virality early on. You’d show up to a meeting in a black car and people would be like, “Dude, where did you get the limo?” Or you’d be leaving a party and you’d just press the Uber button and a car showed up for you. Meanwhile, your friends were trying to hail cabs or call for rides. Just by using Uber, you were a walking advertisement for the product and how much better it was.
Infectious virality is when a product is designed in a way that people will work to get other people using it because it will make it better for both of them. It’s when one user is “infecting” another with the virus, I mean the product so that they are both hooked. For example, Snapchat users have a big incentive to encourage their friends to download Snapchat so they can send photos back and forth in a more authentic and safe way. Twitter works the same way: If you follow me on Twitter I’ll have more followers, and you can see what I’m doing and tweeting, and it’ll be great for both of us. Nextdoor is a really interesting example where even though people might not know their neighbors, they can send them postcards to invite them and make the neighborhood community larger and more productive for everyone. And of course LinkedIn and Facebook are the canonical examples of infectious virality where people invited you to be their colleagues or friends on the service.
Invitations are the key to spreading infectious virality. However — false invitations or overly spammy invitations often have a deleterious effect on virality. When someone invites you to a service only because they invited their entire address book, it doesn’t feel personal or connected. And if you sign up and the person doesn’t even use the product, then the likelihood for the next person to become active diminishes greatly.
This is what most people think of as classic virality, because it’s how we’ve seen social networks and communication networks spread. And who doesn’t love the special feeling of being “invited” to a product by their friend? But infectious virality doesn’t and shouldn’t apply to all products. Being invited into a product that isn’t naturally social doesn’t really work. So use this method carefully and make sure it really applies to your product.
Finally, some things just spread because they’re fun to share, or because they’ve got a lot of popular momentum and people want to look cool by sharing them. YouTube videos blow up because they’re funny, or addictive, and it’s just fun to share them with your friends.
In a similar way, Pokémon Go took off this summer in part because everyone was doing it, and it was just fun to tell your friends about it and to participate yourself. Of course, there are other aspects to this game’s success, such as the fact that it was leveraging a very established, beloved brand, but it also benefited from this virtuous circle of fun, popularity, and sharing.
Discuss what fits naturally into your organization or business when approaching your shift towards viral marketing. These core 5 tactical secrets are a definite core to helping your product, service or content go viral. If you want to check out the full article, check it out here –> www.greylock.com
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