2 Jan 2014

Viral Videos and Posts - The Secret Behind Them & More...

The advent of social media has led to increased usage of a word – VIRAL! People, agencies, companies and everyone else want their articles, photos, videos, advertisements, posts, etc. or even products and apps to go viral i.e. be shared hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of times. Most entities push for this achievement by pleading to everyone in all their social media networks to share what they’ve uploaded. Do they succeed? Nada. But some folks do... that too without much effort. Why? How does this happen?

Scott Stratten, founder of Un Marketing, explained the concept of viral content beautifully. Those who haven’t heard it, this is a post for your benefit.

The Law of Circles
When a product (or app or song) is launched, or when content for sharing (photo, infographic, video, etc.) is created, the people who share it are often from the first circle. These are people directly associated with the product or campaign. They’re either someone from the team which created it, or are people who share to be in their boss’ good books... so on and so forth. When they share the content, it reaches the second circle or their first circle, which includes their friends and family. Their first circle is not obliged to share it with anyone. However, when the latter does, the content reaches the third circle, which is similar to the first circle of the people associated with the product or content. People in the second circle share it with their family and friends because they genuinely like what they see. Forget the marketing terminology of “adding value” for some time. People share because they want others to see what intrigued, entertained or enraged them. People in the third circle then share it with those in their first circle, and the cycle continues. This leads to a product, photo or video going viral.

Think about it. Isn’t this why Michael Jackson and Metallica produced so many hit songs? Isn’t this why ‘Why This Kolaveri Di’, the Volvo commercial featuring Van Damme and Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ were such hits? And why Felix Baumgartner’s Space Jump was one of the most watched YouTube videos in 2013? And, of course, Justine Sacco’s tweet, albeit for all the wrong reasons.

99.9% of agencies and marketers aiming to produce viral content fail to remember a key aspect – only one factor lures people to share something with others... EMOTION. Liking a Facebook post is one thing, sharing it on their timeline with 400+ friends is another. A person shares something when it engages her emotionally. It may evoke feelings like fun, joy, anger, nostalgia among others. You can beg people to share your content, but how many do? And when something barely crosses the first circle, you can bet your bottom dollar that going viral is out of the question.

So remember, don’t focus on creating “viral content”. Focus, instead, on creating something awesome and engaging. Content which is not necessarily related to your product or service, but which touches an emotional cord with readers and viewers. Do something outrageous, which delights people; give them a reason to share what you’ve done or created. Then, dear friend, you will have done something which is worth reaching hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people across the globe.


  1. So very true Vishal, most of the stuff that goes viral actually does so without the creators of the content even intending it to go viral. They are simply focused on creating the content without necessarily worrying about its reach. The entire viral phenomenon clearly proves one thing, Content is King....

  2. Very true Vishal.. The circle's theory explains the concept of Viral marketing.. Also, it adds (huge) value if one of the stars / superstars / opinion maker share the content.. Creates "added value" around the content.. Like Amitabh Bachchan promoting Kolaveri song via twitter (thats how I came to know about the song)...

  3. Sir, it was exciting to read this article and I want to share something with you. Since 2015, most of my FB posts have gone viral over FB and Whatsapp, because most of the time I post comic content. Emotion is of course important, but fun is precisely important because we love to smile. We cannot resist sharing humor content. Humor is the greatest tool to 'viralize', one never needs to ask people 'pls share my post!' :) Another thing is Humanist approach, something which is 'thought provoking'. Which advertisements do we love to see on television a thousand times and never get bored? Those which are funny and those which give some msg to the mankind. I think intelligent folk are not much moved by simply 'emotional' content. We don't really need someone to tell us that 'mother is great' and 'love is bigger than money' etc, because everybody is seeing life from his/her own aspects.
    However, I loved this article and will continue reading your posts.


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