Even the definition of “viral” in the dictionary shows the two main areas the word is used:

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In this BlueBird Dictionary post, I want to look at the online for of the word.

We all have heard the words

  • Viral video
  • Viral content
  • Make something go viral
  • The _____ went viral

[clickToTweet tweet=”The day Dexter the rat went viral: ” quote=”The Day Dexter the rat went viral:”]

Let’s see what that means and if we can make something “go viral”

viral marketing imageA piece of content goes viral when it is shared over multiple layers. For example, you create a Facebook post that is so engaging that someone shares it to their own timeline. Their friends see it and some share it with their friends and so on. In some cases, this can go on over many levels and reach millions of people.

This result is obviously very desirable. We should always aim to create content that gets shared to expose it to as many readers as possible. But there are people that claim the can “make” something go viral. How does that work?

Can you make content go viral?

Viral content needs several ingredients:

good content + great presentation + an interested audience + perfect timing = chance of going viral.

Let me tell you the story of Dexter the Rat to explain

My Friend Jayne has a very big heart. She volunteers for our local animal shelter and regularly fosters pets until they can go to a new home or while they recover from medical problems. She has become an expert in caring for pet rats. She is actively involved in rat-related Facebook groups and other sites.

One of her first rats was Dexter. The late Dexter was quite precocious and would not eat Broccoli. One day Jayne  took her smartphone and filmed her attempts to feed him Broccoli.

Here is the video – it will put a smile on your face:

By the time I’m writing this article this version of the “Dexter the rat hat hates broccoli” has already been viewed 1.7 Million times.

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Jayne posted the video to her personal Facebook profile. The next morning the video had already been seen by thousands of people.

Jayne called me to tell me about this and ask my advice on how to monetize this success in order to raise money for animal rescue charities. She ended up uploading the video to YouTube where it became a sensation as well. She was contacted by a media company that helped her monetize the video and she raised more money for the charities than she hoped for.

But the success of the Dexter video was not an accident!

While Jayne did not produce the video with the thought of producing an amazing video she had done everything right:

  1. The video was short (30 seconds) and very funny
  2. You never see the whole rat so people that don’t like rats aren’t offended
  3. The video is authentic and not over-produced. We feel like we are standing right there watching.
  4. Jayne had built a network of influencers. Her friends in the support groups had become Facebook friends and had shared the video with their friends who likely consisted partly of other rat lovers that are not connected with Jayne directly.

Every one of these factors contributed to the sensational result of the video. Sometimes content seems to take off by accident. Most of the time it’s a result of long-term planning and influencer programs.

“Making something go viral” is hard work that requires a lot of preparation and a long-term strategy. Or…. you are just lucky 😀 .

Have you ever have content go viral?

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featured image licensed at Depositphotos

Published by Frithjof

Digital media strategist, coach, community manager and CEO of BlueBird Business Consulting. Blogger, podcaster, content creator and teacher with a passion. Favourite quote: “To succeed in the business of the future we have to become the very people we are trying to reach” ~ Brian Solis

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