10 Apr 2018

Questions to Ask Yourself About Viral Marketing

Why do we suffer? Does life have a purpose? Should we fear the future? Is there a god? Life’s big questions can seem a bit overwhelming, but none is more all-consuming and existential than the five questions one has to ask oneself if you desire to go viral! Generally speaking, viral marketing is considered a very viable method of attracting traffic to your site or app through a particular piece of popular or ‘viral’ content. However, more than the content, it is the platform itself that is undergoing viral growth, while the content acts as a catalyst to further increase traffic to the site.

Well, let’s say you see a trending video on YouTube (like one of those Epic Mealtimes or Hot Sauce Challenge videos) and decide to share it with your friends. The more that people share content from the site, the more it grows, because as the content spreads, so does the popularity of the site. Now, YouTube specifically uses the handy ‘recommended for you’ feature to lure you and your friends into watching more of their content, and pretty soon you become a regular subscriber and user on the platform. The content featured on YouTube is basically an instrument to help spread the application’s reach and increase the general audience. Content creators, on the other hand, view YouTube as a platform to help market their own brands, and most content creators are not really aiming for viral growth but rather recognition to promote and solidify their individual brand for marketing purposes.

However, it is important to note that YouTube has grown exponentially over the years, and nowadays the platform has set itself apart by offering ‘channels’ where content creators can showcase and store their unique content for repeated viewing. This user-generated model from YouTube enables creators to grow their individual channels by gaining more subscribers who will be loyal viewers of their content. But this is still just a feature within YouTube, and it works to grow the platform even more while attracting more users and viewers to their app every day. So, it’s a win-win situation (except YouTube wins more).

What is Viral Marketing?

As you may have probably guessed from the sound of the word ‘viral’, the term viral marketing was inspired by the understanding of what happens during the spread of disease. You see, a viral infection spreads quickly and easily from one person to the other, and it can usually be passed on through a simple touch. This is basically how epidemics develop and are created.

Web content can be likened to a viral ‘disease’ because it spreads in very much the same way. Through viral marketing, you use content as a means to convince your users or your audience to share your app or website with friends and family, thus passing it on indefinitely. You basically leverage your users to propel your message to the next person, be it a friend, acquaintance or a family member.

That way, your user base and/ or audience grows, and because they also share your content, you’ll get more users on your app or website, and so on and so forth. So it’s a sort of ‘each one; teach one’ direct response marketing that leads to the exponential growth and exposure for your platform and message.

Do you want your app or website to go viral? Then ask yourself the following 5 questions:

Why would my users want to share this?

This question helps you explore the level of value that you’re providing to your users- if any- because the perceived value of your content is what will motivate them to share it in the first place. What’s in it for them? What intrinsic value does the content provide that makes it worth sharing? Also ask yourself if your users will be seen as funny or smart or compassionate when sharing your content, because people love to look smart and knowledgeable, and at the time they want to be seen as having a sense of humor, and with a bit of compassion to show their human side. So, make sure that your content has one or a combination of these elements to encourage users to share.

What will my users get for sharing the content?

There has to be an upside for your users when sharing your content. Whether that’s extrinsic rewards, discounts, gifts, privileges from your site or admittance into a ‘secret and exclusive club’ that you’ve created- whatever! Your users want to feel special and valued, so when they feel that they’ll be gaining something in exchange for sharing your content, they’re most likely to go through with it.  

In which ways do I want them to share?

Do you want your audience to share the content via a social media post, through an address book invite or a private email invite? Whichever method you choose, make sure that it’s clear and available in a straightforward format that your users can understand. There’s nothing worse than wanting to share something and being unclear about how to go about it.

When should I request them to share?

The time and position at which you place your call to action are very important, as you have to lead your users to it in a gradual way. Ideally, the call to action should come right when the user is starting to recognize for themselves, the appeal and value of sharing your content.

How quick is the invite or referral process?

You need to ask yourself; Are my instructions for sharing the content straightforward and easy to understand and follow? Is the site accessible and inviting to new users? How quickly can other users visit the site? How quick is the process of becoming a user and inviting or referring other users?

We hope that these useful questions have facilitated your thought process toward viral marketing so that you’re a bit clearer on how to leverage this approach for the benefit of your own app or website. Granted, going viral is considered to be quite a difficult feat these days, thanks to the clamoring traffic of voices all vying for the top spot, but asking the right questions helps to unlock unexplored ideas that will set you apart from the rest.