The concept of “going viral” is mostly related to digital content published and shared across social networks, but the viral effect can also be applied to companies, products and services.
For a startup business, going viral is something that can help to catapult the company in its early stages. Recent examples of the viral effect being embraced by startups include the Snapchat social network and Internet media giant BuzzFeed.
Achieving the Viral Effect
Going viral requires equal parts of luck and effort; the latter is the only one that can be controlled by a startup company or by an entrepreneur.
A startup business seeking to achieve a viral effect should start by associating their products and/or services with ideas that have the power to transcend the norm. To do this, a persuasive message must be crafted around an idea that audiences can easily identify with. For example, the social network Ello had its viral moment when the founders declared that their philosophy would be the opposite of Facebook. The powerful statement of no data mining and no advertising resulted in journalist labeling Ello as the “anti-Facebook.”
Once the powerful idea has been associated with a company’s goods and services, the next step involves creating content that conveys the powerful idea into a persuasive message. This means that the content should be crafted for the purpose of being shared on social media, which is essentially the modern equivalent of “word of mouth” advertising.
Maximizing the Value of Sharing
Whenever possible, the business principals should focus on sharing from various angles. To begin with, content creators should ask themselves if what they are promoting has benefit in sharing. For example, a company can sponsor a giveaway on social networks with a requirement to share an update so that friends and relatives can also participate.
Emotional value is an important aspect of sharing, particularly when it also requests users to weigh in on certain issues. For example, swimwear retailer Bikini Luxe owes its success to a LinkedIn campaign that asked members whether pictures of beautiful models wearing bikinis were appropriate for the world’s largest business social network. That polling of opinions generated a lot of interest in the young company and stroke a chord among LinkedIn members who felt very strongly about the issue.
In the end, any product or service that has a potential to be shared with others could have the potential of going viral.