May 09

Going viral: The Holy Grail Of Internet

Pure luck, the help of famous friends and triggers. These are just some of the necessary ingredients for a digital media content to spread like wildfire through social media, web sites and mailboxes. In the business of building a brand, virality is one of the crucial elements of achieving success. But, what are the laws of virality? 
Shira Abel, one of PODIM 2014 speakers, who also lectures about viral content and products, told us about five ways to achieve virality: “Luck, timing, understanding your customer (what the customers’ triggers are – more about this later), friends in the entertainment industry who are willing to help you for free or an add campaign worth 500.000,00 USD by Wieden + Kennedy."
All jokes aside, at first glance, there doesn’t seem to be a pattern to the success of online content. One day it’s a sneezing panda, the next a dancing Korean. Kris Hoet, a Belgian director of digital media in the creative agency Duval Guillaume Modem, recently talked to, where he explained the common denominator to all viral media content. These are triggers – values and feelings shown though symbols and situations that ‘trigger’ responses in people. Let’s say a girl sees a video of a kitten purring and her response is “Oooh!” – the trigger here is cuteness. Because triggers are so embedded in the culture, they differ from population to population. What makes one person laugh, can insult another. 
When it comes to virality itself, Hoet adds, “it’s not so important what the object is in itself, but rather the discussion and attention it attracts”. It really must be the perfect combination of the right triggers and good luck. The problem with triggers is that you can‘t be completely sure what the response will be. For instance, a company for female grooming products launched a series of ads Don’t risk dudeness that were meant to become viral, but did not get the desired kind - women were enraged and they were forced to remove the ad. In the business of building brands and good connotations about the brand, this can be a slippery slope.
So, you can attempt virality, but there are really no fool-proof ways for doing it. For inspiration, here are some of Hoet’s viral videos: Amazing mind reader reveals his 'gift', See how easily freaks can take over your life (addressing the issue of sensitive personal information shared on the internet) and Push to add drama (at the launch of a new drama TV channel).
Shira Abel will speak at PODIM 2014, which will take place in Maribor from 14th to 15th May 2014.
Kris Hoet will give a lecture entitled “Building a brand through social currency” at Days of communication (Danima komunikacija), which takes place in Rovinj, from 15th to 18th May 2014.
Partially taken from: