6 Steps to Viral Marketing Success

Have you ever wondered how you could get all your marketing content to work for your business, brand, products, and services in an exponential and meaningful way? What makes products and ideas catch on and become popular? Why do some stories get shared more than others? Why are some rumours infectious? What makes things “go viral”?

Imagine if you could get your content to go viral regularly? What would the impact be on your overall marketing budget? Well if you are half as successful in doing so you would be guaranteed to spend much less of your marketing budget, advertising to get the messages out in order to convince your customers and stakeholders to support your objectives.

In the past we are heard of businesses, brands, concepts, products, and services go viral and usually, it has been either something really unbelievable or really bad news. Therefore as the good old saying goes; ‘bad news travels fast’.

What generally goes viral?

  1. A car part recall of a prominent car manufacturer.
  2. A company who advocates one thing and is bust doing the opposite.
  3. An Employee going something bad or bad service from a company is spread.
  4. The Uber APP, I’m sure most of you reading this article would agree you were informed of the APP via a friend or colleague?

Let’s unpack the reasons why content is spread using some groundbreaking research performed over a decade by Jonah Burger. If you have not read his best seller; contagious: Why things catch on? I suggest you read it: Contagious

The secret formula

Whether you’re trying to get people to buy something, persuade them to do something, or simply inform your audience about something, one thing is certain—you want it to catch on. It's human nature to want to be perceived as the best. Follow these STEPPS (or as many of them as possible) to craft contagious content, so that your brand, product or idea is top of mind and is shared quickly.

Viral Marketing Techniques Create Compelling Content

Social Currency


Find your inner-remarkability. Make people feel like insiders. If everyone shares your content on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Tumblr and other social media or by word of mouth, it becomes continuous and durable. In other words, this information becomes popular among people. More than that, it proves to be the source of influence. The latter can be achieved by making a certain secret. Social Currency also makes a person look better in social eyes, the fact that you share something should give you satisfaction.

So look for something you can pass on which makes people believe they have information which nobody else has, and let your stakeholders share your messages for you.



Top of mind means the tip of the tongue. A trigger may be defined as something that is rather simple to remember about your brand, idea or product, in order to make it stick to one’s memory. When you see or hear or think about triggers, you must think of brand automatically. Triggers are usually visual and catchy. They can be hidden in slogans, logos or mottos of companies or brand emblems as well. French music makes us buy French wine, breakfast makes you think about cereal. Just have a look at the crocodile of Lacoste. They become good reminders of brands, spurring instant recognition every time they see the pattern, colour or picture.



When we care, we share. Focus on feelings rather than function. It is obvious that we estimate things and phenomena by the emotions they evoke. Pleasant emotions (happiness, joy, awe, interest, gratitude, etc.) tend to form a positive opinion, whereas disagreeable emotions (anger, sadness, envy, etc.) are more likely to influence the choice of making an evaluation negatively. It means that our emotions actually affect our attitude to the things. Thus, aiming at making your product go viral, you should try to induce the most powerful emotions that enforce people to action. Examples of those active emotions are laughter, joy, awe, and anger. Any relationship is based on the emotional contact, so if you are angry, you are forced by your passion to share the reason with other people.

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Practical Value

Useful things get shared. Package knowledge & expertise so that people pass it on. Look for tips and how-to information. Every time you create something, you should think about what the value of it will be, and how people can use it. Look at the rule of 100. If a product is selling at a reduced price, will 25% off be greater than R25 off a product price? Whichever is greater should be used to communicate practical value towards your target market.



Built to show, built to grow. The more public something is the more it's imitated. Publicity here concerns the product or the idea that should be shown to people to spread among them. The more times people see it, the more chance that they will remember it and share the information with their friends. Showing is rather easy in terms of the large web of Internet connections. However, when it comes to spreading, the process seems to be rather complicated, because you cannot make people decide whether to tell their friends about it or not. This decision will be made on their own.

Great examples of public are cellphones and computers. Ever wondered why your laptop logo is facing away from you? Well simple, you’re advertising their brand. People will look at you and your persona and what you are using. The more people seen using an Apple Mac, for example, means that when one is ready to purchase a computer, you may look at the Apple Mac as the only option and since everyone around you is using one. “I want what they have, it must be good”.



Build a story people want to tell. Tell stories and people will listen to you. Think globally – they will even retell your story! Telling a good story about your company is a sure way to reinforce your brand. On the contrary, creating a bad story is eroding your prestige.

What is your company story that you can tell your consumers? Does it contain your key points? Does your story reveal real events or imaginary ones? What I want to say is that people don’t like to advertise brands, but they like to tell stories. Stories about a great customer support team, or good or bad food and service experiences at restaurants. Will you follow the advice of a friend who tells you about something great they discovered? Yes. Give people stories to tell and they will promote your brand for you.

Key Takeaways

  1.  Use this methodology at the heart of your content marketing strategy, it will guarantee you better results using carefully crafted content, rather than a splash of words and features.
  2.  If you are creating an advert, you can use these STEPPS, like emotion, triggers, practical value, stories and social currency to get people to spend more time and remember your ad.
  3. If you are currently running an advertising campaign but you are not happy with the traction, benchmark your campaign against these STEPPS and make changes to get your message heard.
  4. This is great for sharing policies which you want people to remember.
  5. These techniques are commonly used in Inbound Marketing Philosophy practice, if you are using Inbound Marketing, then these techniques will supercharge your inbound marketing projects, after all, Inbound Marketing is about delivering compelling content to your audience when they are searching for it.
  6. In the 1990's Sales dominated the buying process, now much of the top of the decision-making process today is Marketing and word of mouth are becoming more and more, ever so important.  
  7. Whether you are packaging a product to sell, or creating a blog post, or creating a website. Use these principles to reach into the minds of your prospects. remember your prospects own Search and Social too so use these principles as techniques to drive all communication created. 

These are just some of the ways you can use the methodology but turn them into techniques which will become the 'new' norm of creating compelling content. I’m sure you will find many other ways like your sales pitch to customers too.