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What makes a viral, viral?

Generate a buzz with your marketing content by making it viral

Bumblee bee buzz
Getting your content to "go viral" must appeal to every digital marketer, so I thought it would be worth sharing this recent viral video on successful viral marketing plus some tips on different types of viral "hooks".

The video talks about the history of online viral video and goes into detail about why and how they happen, as well as the impact viral videos are having on mainstream culture.

Lisa Romagnoli, Assistant Producer, Off Book says:

"whether rooted in comedy, spectacle, schadenfreude, cuteness, politics, performance, or deep meaning, the idea of viral videos, and the huge audiences they generate, have forever changed the values and potential impact of video online".

Six viral marketing hooks

I also noticed an interesting post recently on Crazy Egg that outlines Six secrets of viral content, according to Mark Hughes, author of Buzz Marketing. The six “hooks” that can be considered for a viral are:

  • Hook #1: Taboo. This must be used with caution as it can be a controversial or uncomfortable subject.  These topics are guaranteed to generate conversation by people.  Mr Hughes describes it as potty humour and other topics that people are generally uncomfortable talking about. Not an option for most brands.
  • Hook #2: The unusual. Topics that are unusual or unique are another great way to get people talking.  Stand out from the crowd from your competition and generate a buzz - by doing something unique.
  • Hook #3: The Outrageous. Handle with care like the Taboo hook! A good example of this is the Golf Boys video by Farmers Insurance which went viral to 5m plus.
  • Hook #4: The Hilarious. People like to share funny content. Whether it’s a bulldog riding a skateboard or a crow sliding down a snow-covered roof.
  • Hook #5: The remarkable. Create content that is better than the average.  Content will stand out from the crowd, get shared and start conversations. This is a hook all brands can apply, but it doesn't make it easy, far from it.
  • Hook #6: Secrets (both kept and revealed). People love a good secret. Why? Because we like to feel like an insider and like to have an inside scoop. Take about an upcoming project as it creates anticipation as people wait to find out when the secret will be revealed on a particular date. Being first or at least early in breaking news is again an approach all content marketers can apply.

So there you have it, some ideas for inspiration, but making viral marketing work so that it supports and is in keeping with a brand is certainly challenging.


By Kate Boothby

Kate Boothby is a freelance writer, editor and consultant, specialising in direct and digital marketing and online learning. Her experience spans several market sectors, including charity, leisure and marketing education. Kate writes and edits online courses and her direct and digital marketing case studies and more general articles have been published in a variety of European journals. Connect with Kate on LinkedIn.

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