Thursday, October 3, 2013

Secret to Making Viral Content

I have been in online marketing for many, many years now and have watched as others have made the oddest content go viral. Viral content is like the Loch Ness Monster, few have seen it, some swear it exists, but it is ever so elusive, and only shows up on random occasions. I was there when JibJab released their funny animation in 2004 titled "This Land is Your Land" spoofing the Presidential Election between George W. Bush and John Kerry to the tune originally by Woodie Guthrie. Gregg Spiridellis (co-creator of the famous viral video) said it himself that the video required 4 key points:
1) First and foremost, it was the right piece of content at the right time. The political dialogue was totally asinine and we seemed to capture that spirit. The writing and enhanced production values made it something people wanted to watch.
2) Broadband penetration has skyrocketed since our 2000 election parody making our work accessible to a much larger audience.
3) Processor speeds have also increased making it more enjoyable to watch video/animation on a computer.
4) Everyday people are more comfortable with technology. I can't tell you how many times we heard "my grandmother sent it to me". Grandmas were not emailing in 2000.
 Remember this is coming from 2004 - and viral content is now easier than ever to generate. I was in such awe of what they had accomplished that I have been trying to recreate the same affect for years now.

So you have to understand how amazed I am that one simple Google search for "Car Funny" brought me to the cutest baby pic with a statement that would spark a debate among car enthusiasts. Now, it's not some unique meme I knew immediately would go viral, it was among hundreds I gathered and scheduled to post on my fun Facebook Page called "POS Cars" that supports my even more fun website EmbraceYourPOS.com. The website was created for the sole purpose to make me feel better about owning a 95 Toyota Corolla with over 320k miles, shakes when I go above 65, doesn't unlock from the driver's side, has tape player that doesn't work, zip ties holding the bumper on, and the list goes on...

That photo was posted on September 7, 2013 nearly one month before the photo truly went viral. I hadn't spent a dime on promoting the post, nor did I spend anything on the Facebook page to encourage 'like's.

Yesterday I noticed the post had hundred of shares - and a lot of comments. This afternoon I checked again and the photo has officially gone viral with over 21k 'like's, over 10k shares, and 1,348 comments.

The funny thing is I didn't realize the photo has a misspelling, which seems to be one of the points commented about almost as much as the smack talking among the Mustang and Duramax owners.

So what is it that made the photo go viral suddenly?

To be honest, I can't tell you why, so asking me to do the same thing for your Facebook page isn't going to work. I wouldn't feel comfortable taking your money for the consulting fees, and you probably won't get results from it anyways.

What I do look for when posting content is something controversial that can spark a debate. This clearly fit that bill. A photo that is cute or just in the right context is funny. What I also think played a part in the photo going viral is that there is no hidden agenda to the post or the page. I run the advertising for UsedCars.com and you could probably tie this page to that website somehow and start making money, but that wasn't the point. I have scheduled posts going to the page daily that link to specific years of cars on the site, but it doesn't generate a lot of revenue from them. Nothing near what the SEO for the site does anyways.

You can spend money on sponsored posts, I have often thrown $15-$20 here and there to try and get something going, but it won't guarantee anything other than people seeing your post. If you are still chasing the viral Loch Ness Monster thinking that if you get one it will make you a ton of money, think again. No matter how hard you try to recreate or even just create, something that will go viral the odds are a million to one. If you do hit that viral moment, there is an even slimmer chance that the virality will generate revenue.

But by all means - keep posting that controversial, cute, and funny stuff for your fans, They will love you for it, and when it comes to asking them to give you money for something in return, they just might be more likely to do it.

Want to try one of the baby pics for your site? Here's a Google search for you with plenty to choose from - enjoy