Going Viral…with the help of your friends

Jun 26, 09 Going Viral…with the help of your friends

One of my favorite quotes regarding social media is, “viral is not a strategy, it’s an outcome.” Sometimes companies might create a video or a Facebook page and expect some kind of crazy viral activity to stem from it. But unless what you’re doing is extremely compelling, people are probably not going to flock to it on their own out of nowhere.

So here are some of my thoughts on how to help spread the word about an initiative you’re hoping will catch on and spur word of mouth activity yourself. This list focuses on how you can best utilize your own network of contacts to help you start creating some buzz around what you’ve done.

  • Get it started yourself! Don’t expect someone else to start publicizing your initiative for you. Take advantage of all the resources before you – all your contacts, your co-workers and their contacts, etc. Your closest network of contacts will likely be the most willing to start spreading the word about your new Facebook page, YouTube video, etc.
  • Email links to your network of contacts to get the word out about something cool you’ve seen (or created). In the world of social media, email may not be the most novel way to spread something virally, but the truth is, it’s often the best way to reach many of your contacts. I still know plenty of people that don’t have a Facebook or MySpace page, and they don’t necessarily understand how to tag things or use services like digg. They communicate via email and still send email blasts, so don’t forget about this simple, yet effective, method.
  • Comment on Facebook group or fan pages. When you comment on a page, that activity shows up in all your contacts’ feeds, therefore exposing them to whatever you’re looking at.
  • Recommend Facebook fan pages. In case some of your contacts don’t see you interacting with a page through the live feed, you can send recommendations of fan pages to your network. For instance, I recommended that my contacts check out The San Jose Group’s Facebook page. (And you should too!)
  • Share articles on LinkedIn. If your initiative is newsworthy, share it with your contacts on LinkedIn.
  • Tag. Anytime I post something on YouTube, Flickr, this blog, or anywhere else, I tag it. With our agency’s name, with terms that represent what we do, etc. This helps people find our content, especially those that are interested in things like Hispanic marketing, PR and anything else we comment on.
  • ReTweet. Tweet your news and encourage people to ReTweet it. If someone responds to your tweet or RT’s it, then you’ve just gained exposure in front of all that person’s followers – sometimes that means 50 people, sometimes it means 50,000.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, just some of my thoughts on how to encourage something to become viral by taking small, simple actions. This assumes that what you’ve created is at least mildly interesting to at least a group of people. I’m not taking into account the actual content and quality of what you’ve created – that’s another posting altogether.

What additional suggestions can you add?

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