Monday, January 20, 2014
3 Key Ingredients for Going Viral
That means going viral. As viral as possible. Infect to the north star! Okay, sorry, I'll stop. But seriously. None of us would say no to that kind of wildfire word-of-mouth spread that happens sometimes, right?
Clearly there is no, like, secret formula or anything for making something go viral or we would all be doing it. However, in his awesome TED talk, YouTube's trend manager Ken Allocca talks about three common traits in viral YouTube videos. And yeah, even though he's talking about YouTube video's specifically, we can apply these three ingredients to everything from direct book marketing to any social media we might do. Because everything helps, right?
So, without further ado, here are the three key ingredients for going viral:
1. Trend-setters: It's no secret, going viral can be a bit of a catch-22: you go viral by being viral. Celebrities and big names get the types of hits on all their content that we mere mortals only dream of. If you're Justin Beiber, every thing you say goes viral. What I'm saying is this: one of the quickest ways to go viral is to get a nod from one of these big-name trend-setters. Rebecca Black's 'Friday' video didn't go big until some big newscaster tweeted it.
How does this apply to writers directly? This strategy includes stuff like getting big-name reviews of your book or a big-name twitter mention. Obviously there's no guaranteed way to do that, and the worst thing you can do is become obnoxious about it (we've all seen what that looks like). So really I guess this one comes down to creating good (or otherwise noteworthy) content and praying for some luck.
2. Trend participation: Going back to the 'Friday' video. There were quite a number of people who got some big numbers by making parody videos. I'm sure you've seen a handful of them. Now, I am definitely not saying you should write to trends. There have been innumerable posts around the blogosphere about why that is a terrible idea, and I wholeheartedly agree. What I am saying is that you should find all the niches your books fit in and participate fully. This strategy also comes heavily into play as you do your social media marketing. Use appropriate Twitter hashtags and write blog posts about relevant news and trends. In short, find applicable discussions and find a way to join in. The higher quality your contribution to the discussion, the more attention it is going to get. In other words, this also comes down to creating quality content and praying for some luck.
3. Unexpectedness and remarkability: In another wonderful TED Talk by Seth Godin he uses the example of a purple cow. We see cows fairly often, while we're driving down the road, right? We don't particularly notice--or remark--them. However, if one of those cows were purple, we would stop and do a double-take. But then, if all the cows became purple, purple cows would cease to be remarkable. See what I'm (he's) saying?
You know those horrible videos where there's a peaceful scene, like a truck driving down a lush country road, and it goes on for a minute or so and then a terrifying witch face comes screaming onto the screen? So, those are obnoxious examples, but we need to do our best to be something like that. We need to create content that people remark on--that they remember, and talk about with there friends. That's how you get the ball rolling in the first place. This applies to both our book marketing and our books themselves. Make tweets and blog posts and YouTube videos and paid advertisements and interviews and, most of all, books, that are remarkable. Meaning this comes down to--you guessed it--creating quality content and praying for a bit of luck.
So yeah, if there were a secret ingredient to all this, it would be luck. My grandpa used to say luck is when preparation meets opportunity, and these three ingredients will help us take best advantage of all opportunities.
What are ways can you think of to use these three ingredients in your book marketing? Can you think of any great examples of people who have done this?