Get Noticed Online
The Internet has billions of users. Together, we create more content in one second than we could ever consume.
Even so, there is content that stands out. Surprisingly, a video comes out that all of your friends have watched. An article is written that everyone seems to know about. Content like this is consumed millions of times—maybe even a billion times in rare cases.
What makes content stand out amongst the noise? Certainly not self-promotional blabbing or pleads for people to share content just because you asked them to. Viral content is born when something is created that is of great value to a user…or even a hundred thousand users.
Creating Valuable, Viral Content
Viral videos are surrounded by envious listeners, viewers, and consumers. Every once in awhile, we see a piece of viral content that is so simple that we could have produced it ourselves. Other times, the content wasn’t even that interesting in the first place, and it just seems stupid that it went viral in the first place.
We wonder, “Why didn’t my content go viral? It was so much better than that.”
Instead of worrying about it, we satisfy ourselves by deciding that virality is random, and that there’s nothing anyone does that can have an impact on that.
However, virality isn’t determined by content that’s “better” or “worse” in terms of production or entertainment value. It’s not random either.
Marketing expert Jonah Berger, in his book Contagious, studied virality. In his research, he found 6 elements that are essential to a piece of viral content. These elements may work together to drive content to virality, or one may work alone to produce the results.
If you’re hungry to know how to produce content that people want to consume, then we highly recommend the book. However, we want to expand on just one of Jonah’s principles: Social Currency.
Small Business Content with Social Currency
Think about it. What ultimately makes something go viral? Someone has to share the content with their friends, one of those friends has to share it with their friends, and so on. Social currency is the motivator for us to share anything with our friends.
Here at FeedbackWrench, I work with Rob on Web Presence, SEO, and Video Production for small businesses and ministries. Rob and I each come across a lot of articles, videos, and more relating to our industry. If we took the time to share each and every one with each other, we would never have any time left in the day to be productive.
Instead, I only ever share an article with Rob if I find it to be extremely relevant, informative, or inspiring. If I share an article with him, he may or may not be equally impressed. If he is, he’ll likely pass it on to someone else. If not, the article’s lifecycle will cease at this point, assuming we were the only readers.
If you create content for your small business, it’s not enough to create a promotional piece and beg your friends to share it. Your Uncle Jim and your brother Henry might share it, but no one in their networks will share it, because at this point, they are too far removed from you to care enough to do you a favor.
Instead, you have to provide something that is so valuable to your audience that they actually gain social currency by having seen your content. They have become a more interesting or more informed person by having seen what you made.
Think of it this way. You own a coffee shop. Instead of making a video telling people that beans are x amount of money and the Wi-Fi is x amount faster, you decide to share about your revolutionary new brewing method that tastes better than any other method.
At this point, you share the video and your first viewer watches it. This viewer is genuinely impressed. He’s never heard of this method before, and it sounds way better than the drip coffee he’s been drinking. Later, when he’s hanging out with his friends, one of them mentions that they want to stop for a cup of coffee. Suddenly, the viewer has something of value to add to this conversation—he has social currency. He shares about your coffee shop and the revolutionary new brewing method that you’ve created.
Before you know it, you have a group of customers instead of just one.
It’s the same principle that’s in play when a silly video of a panda rolling around goes viral. If I show that video to a friend of mine and they enjoy it, I have become a more interesting person for having shared it.
How can your small business utilize Jonah Berger’s first principle of virality to be heard by your audience?