Going Viral: Creating Contagious Content

Have you ever wondering what makes something go viral? Is there a secret? What do viral-video makers know that you don’t? Learn the what and how of going viral and a few tips for what you can do to make your content more contagious.

Going Viral: The What and How of Creating Contagious Content

It was my niece’s first birthday and her mother threw a party, inviting the whole family to join in on the celebration. Everyone was excited to share in the festivities but the morning before the party, people began cancelling saying they weren’t feeling well.

But this was my niece’s first birthday! A big O-N-E!

With much pressure on, the family came together to save the party. Those who were feeling sort of better were encouraged to show up anyway and give my niece the party she deserved.

So they came.

And it was a lovely time. Good food, good conversations, good feelings all around.

Later that evening…

I haven’t vomited from being ill since I was a child. But vomit I did, from midnight till 8 a.m. the next morning. Who was the culprit? No real idea, since there were a few people at the party who weren’t feeling 100 per cent and we spent the day switching children, changing seats, and grabbing snacks from the same bowls.

And I learned I wasn’t the only one—most of the other non-sick party-goers spent the next day beside the toilet.

It all happened so fast. One moment we were minding our own business, living life like normal, and the next we were swept up into a wave of vomit-filled illness by no fault of our own except for attending the party and enjoying ourselves.

What happened? Our party went viral.


What does “going viral” mean?

Sans vomiting, going viral in Internet terms is seen as a good thing. It’s what happens when a piece of content (article, photo, video, etc.) is shared, copied, and otherwise spread across social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

How many shares does it take before something is considered viral?

I’m sorry to say, there isn’t an exact number. Viral status is achieved when the proportion of people seeing the content and then sharing it increases over what’s usual.

I know, could it be more vague?

Think of viral sharing like a secret. If you share a secret with someone, and that person shares it with someone else and then another, and another, then pretty soon everyone knows your secret. But if the person keeps your secret, that’s where the sharing ends. It’s safe, and no one knows about it.

The simple math of virality

Viral content is relative. When you share a piece of content on social media, how many shares is normal? If you see your shares go up from normal on a couple posts, you can consider those viral. However, if your shares go up and stay up—then it’s the new normal. Not viral anymore.

The more complicated math of true viral content

Of course, a few extra shares here and there doesn’t make a big impact. We want to know about the life-changing kind of viral content like Chewbacca Mom’s laughing video or Mandy Harey’s deaf singing audition for America’s Got Talent. How do you get those?

The next level of viral content

When you level up on going viral this is where stuff happens. On day one a piece of content is shared and you receive your regular likes, shares, and website visits, plus a few extras. This (according to ShareProgress) is called “first generation.” From there, a few of these first generation people share your content on their social channels and some of their friends check it out. They’re called “second generation.” By the second generation there should be more likes, shares, and website visits. Now it’s on the second generation of visitors to share your content. If a few more than the first round do this, then the third generation of visitors should be seeing your content. If this continues then you’ll see exponential likes, shares, and website visits. This is where things get crazy.

In the simple viral example, you’ll have a bump of activity and then things will go back to normal. In the next level of going viral, the momentum grows and keeps growing and, if you’re prepared for it, sends your life in a new direction.


How do I make something go viral?

Yeah, sorry. I don’t know how. Actually, I don’t think anyone does. No matter how many terms I Google, all I come up with is “there’s no formula, there’s no secret.”

But here are a few things you can do to help your content be ready for going viral.

People are more likely to share something if…

  • they have a strong reaction to it
  • they have a positive emotional response to it
  • they feel inspired by it
  • they are surprised by it
  • they find it practical and useful
  • they think it will help someone

Where to go from here

Before you write an article don’t think about what will or won’t make it go viral, instead think about what will help and inspire your audience. Think about what they’d like to read/watch/hear and then create it. Be genuine, be real, and be positive.

Here’s how Derek Halpern says it.

Positive uplifting content always gets shared. Remember, there’s a lot of unhappy people in the world, and while there are different reasons for being unhappy, content that is uplifting and inspirational helps people get out of their rut…even if it’s only for a few seconds.

I don’t know about you, but I’d sure like to help someone out of their rut today.

Going Viral: The What and How of Creating Contagious Content. Have you ever wondering what makes something go viral? Is there a secret? What do viral-video makers know that you don't? Learn the what and how of viral content and a few tips for what you can do to make your content more contagious.

If you need help coming up with content ideas or don’t know who you’re audience is, that’s where I come in. Drop me a line and let’s start a conversation. I’m here to help!

A Tip of the Hat, Hairy Anglers, and Last Day of Voting

If I was like most people, I would’ve watched Planet Earth and Blue Planet years ago. But me being me (AKA slightly behind every trend ever) I watched Blue Planet last year and am currently mid-way through Planet Earth.

Anyway, I didn’t want to let Stupid Animal Battles end without tipping my hat to some of the most amazing animal battles and behaviours I’ve ever seen.

Here are my top three moments from The Blue Planet

  • Learning just how mean and nasty killer whales are (sorry Vancouverites, I can’t be nice about Orcas, they’re MEAN to baby whales and especially to seals)
  • Getting a front row seat for intense feeding frenzy’s. I think my favourite was marlin zipping around rounding up tuna bait balls
  • Seeing real images of the amazingly terrifying anglerfish, made famous by Finding Nemo (well actually Finding Nemo came out after The Blue Planet so I don’t know who made what famous)

Of all the episodes I was especially mesmerized by The Deep. It featured so many amazing creatures (and monsters) I’ve never even imagined let alone knew existed. The battles happening in the deep oceans are unlike anything else. If you haven’t seen this episode, you should make it a point to.

In the pitch black nothing of the deepest parts of the ocean species use every trick in the book to find, fool, lure, and eat enough to survive another day. It’s unlike anything I can imagine, even though I’ve seen the film. It doesn’t make any sense! Why are these animals down there? Don’t they know there’s much better feeding elsewhere? Why stick to the dangerous depths where there is no law and chaos threatens to take over each and every second?

Gives me shivers.

The Hairy Angler was actually discovered while the BBC was filming this series. They found her when filming The Deep and know nearly nothing about it.

Five things we know about the Hairy Angler fish

  • Lives in the Dark Zone 1,000 metres below the sea’s surface
  • Has red skin but in the Dark Zone this skin makes the hairy angler invisible
  • The female is about the size of a football while the male is about the size of a ping pong ball
  • It’s covered in sensitive antennae, which can sense prey’s vibrations
  • Has an expanding stomach. This means it can eat fish larger than it (comes in handy when you don’t know when your next meal will be)

I do hope you’ve enjoyed this month of Stupid Animal Battles. I tried really hard. And now we’re done. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s new blog topic!

learn to Draw 200 Animals

Paws & Tales DVD for $5

I never do this.

Really. But I will this time for three reasons:

  1. It’s a really, really good deal
  2. I think it’s a good product
  3. It completely fits the blog topic

In this episode of Great gifts for under $5, I’m going to direct you to my work website.

What is it? A new Paws & Tales DVD for $5. Yup, and that includes shipping.

Why? Well that’s a deep question. Why is it so cheap? Or why am I telling you about it? Or why don’t I link my work website more often?

Happy to tell you more.

  1. It’s so cheap because it’s the first release of the new Paws & Tales DVDs, thanks to Tyndale. However, (also thanks to Tyndale) both of the episodes on this 45 minute DVD have been released before so it’s new, but it’s not
  2. I’m telling you about this because I was a bit incensed the other day looking around the blogosphere/Twitterama seeing that Tyndale had given out a whole whack of promotional DVDs for review and the reviewers were saying the cost of the DVD is $12. THERE IS A BETTER DEAL FOR PAWS & TALES! HERE!
  3. I don’t want to over link my work stuff because I would like to keep my personal blog separate from my work life. Although there are obviously crossovers and in those times I’ll link away. Also, I don’t want people to feel tricked or manipulated into clicking/reading/buying/listening/etc. If you want to check it out, go for it, my work blogs are linked on my sidebar.

Anyway, so these stories are really cute and great for kids aged 3-8. They’re about a bunch of animal-kids living in a forest called Wildwood and the adventures and life lessons they encounter every day.

Irony in the Fullness of Time

A small part of my job involves writing radio scripts for some 90 second spots and back in mid-October I had to write some advent and Christmas reflections.

And I thought to myself…piece of cake.

On a side note, that reminds me of the Mardi Gras “Three Kings Cake,” which is a gaudy sparkly cinnamony type cake thing with a plastic baby Jesus doll hidden inside. The thought kind of makes me cringe.

Anyway, so I wrote up the scripts and thought no big deal. Really, no big deal.

I remember some of the words still:

When I say the words, “Christmas is coming,” what comes to mind?

For some I’m sure the thought of Christmas rapidly approaching fills you with dread, reminding you of all the gifts left to buy and the decorations to be hung.

For others, however, the anticipation of the coming celebration warms your heart…

Actually I can’t remember any farther than that. Mostly because it’s too ironic.

All that to say last night I ate my words, not my cake.

On a side note that reminds me of another time I ate my words.

For you see, I was relaxing and enjoying my first breath of what I believe I used to call “down time,” when a Christmas commercial came on.

That’s not the weird part. If I saw a commercial NOT mentioning the holidays I would fall over in shock. No, it was the wording of this commercial, which got to me.

OK I will admit what the word was, but you can’t make fun of me. I don’t fully understand why I had such a huge physical reaction but, honestly, the “feeling of dread” was alive and well on my couch last night.

Sanatabulous

There, I said it.

I heard the word and I completely freaked out. My stomach twisted and I honestly felt a moment of panic because I was reminded that I was not, in fact, shopping for Christmas, and I only had two weeks in which to gather the most fabulous gifts for all my family and friends with basically zero budget.

I said basically. I’m afraid to look at what the actual numbers are.

I’m in need of a Santamiracle.

Doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Anyway, the larger campaign I’m afraid of is Sears: Be the Santa you want to be.

It is so stupid. So very, very stupid (and yes I mean the campaign and my fear). And yet, I. am. terrified.

And honestly, I’m wondering just what I was thinking writing a script like that. IS it actually possible to focus on why we celebrate Christmas when there are only two weeks left until Christmas?

Reality-based Robyn knows it is but maybe it’s a bit harder to focus when you’re fighting to park at the mall on a Saturday afternoon days before the big day.

Dreading-on-the-couch Robyn wants to knit all her gifts this Christmas. Do you think there’s still time?