The Three Essential Ingredients Of A Successful Viral Campaign

gregory galant

No one knows exactly what makes things go viral online. Take any of the most insanely successful viral sensations ever, and you’ll easily be able to find dozens of things just like it that never went anywhere.

But while there is nothing — absolutely nothing — you can do to ensure that something goes viral, there is plenty you can do to make sure something doesn’t. Viral marketing, then, is about doing everything right, and then getting very lucky. (Or doing everything right over and over again until something sticks.)

Greg Galant, CEO of Sawhorse Media, and the man behind the Shorty Awards, Listorious, and now Shoutworthy, knows a thing or two about viral success. At last night’s New York Viral Meetup, Greg gave a presentation on the essential ingredients to viral success.

Here's what all viral sensations have in common

Essential Ingredient #1: Call to social action

Farm Aid 2.0: People are constantly giving Zynga's games free promotion, because they need help from their friends to get ahead in the games

You can only nominate someone for the Shorty Awards by tweeting. To participate in them is to promote them.

Essential Ingredient #2: A call to social action

Celebrities don't care about helping Greg Galant, but they give the Shorties free press for their own sake

Essential Ingredient #3: The Ruckus

'The ruckus' is a little less tangible than the other two ingredients, but essentially an idea is 'bringing the ruckus' if a simple, one-sentence distillation of it jumps out at people and grabs their attention.

(Greg considers 'bring the ruckus' to be a reference to the television show Curb Your Enthusiasm, but the show is, of course, referring back to the Wu-Tang Clan's 1993 Bring da Ruckus.)

Even with its hideous original logo, Twitter was compelling to Internet junkies

The idea for the Shorties was inherently offensive to a lot of people, Greg says, because they considered the notion that tweets could be praiseworthy absurd.

Much more concise than our explanation of Foursquare, but this pretty much sums it up.

No one can predict what will become viral. Mixing the ingredients perfectly just gives you a shot.

Now check out BuzzFeed's Jonah Peretti's presentation from the last meetup:

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