Going Viral: Cracking the Code

by | Jun 1, 2015

At ExhibitorLive a session presenter shared this fact; the average American man spends $2,000 on underwear across the course of his lifetime. The average woman spends $32,000. Within minutes, and while the session still went on, this piece of information had been shared on the Exhibitor Twitter feed over a dozen times, and re-Tweeted who knows how many times beyond that.

In short, that tidbit about underwear had gone “viral,” the Holy Grail that so many content marketers seek. Unfortunately that tidbit lacked something that is also critical to marketers. Its spread offered no obvious benefit to any brand or event. But still, it makes us wonder what gave it the juice to jump the tracks?

Based on information shared by Rutgers University and a company called Unruly (unruly.co), a social video advertising company, a piece of content’s potential to go viral can be projected based on its ability to meet these sets of criteria:
1. It must evoke at least one emotional response such as amazement, exhilaration, hilarity, pride, warmth, shock, surprise, arousal, anger, disgust or the sense of being in the know
2. It must somehow relate to its audience’s Zeitgeist – the “spirit of the time” – by:

– Playing on an existing social motivation or widely shared passion

– Starting or furthering a popular conversation,

– Sharing “kudos” among audience members

– Supporting a popular social cause

– Offering a unique opportunity for personal self-expression or the collection of societal opinions.

How did the underwear fact do it? Amazement, hilarity, the sense of being in the know may have played a part. It might have also furthered the never ending and popular conversation on the differences between men and women. Whatever the case, we hope this post offers you insight in what the makes the difference between just one more piece of content tossed into Cyberspace and one that has the potential to really power your business’s social conversation. Now, enjoy this “sneezing baby Panda” – a viral hall of famer.