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Entrepreneurs: Don’t Hope for Viral

by Miki Saxon


I hear the viral thing from a lot of entrepreneurs; it has practically achieved Holy Grail status when talking about marketing.

Not just from entrepreneurs, but from companies across the spectrum of size, industry or any other category you can think of.

Ask anyone directly or indirectly involved about their latest marketing campaign and you’ll likely hear someone say, “we hope it goes viral.”

I’ve also heard when something went viral that it was “more luck than brains,” but I never believed it.

I assumed that, like most thing that succeed, it was mostly brains with a dollop of luck that made it happen.

Now Jonah Berger, a Marketing professor at Wharton has proven my gut instinct was accurate.

Berger did the research and just published the results in Contagious: Why Things Catch On; not only the proof, but some good guidance on increasing your viral chances.

Word of mouth isn’t random and it’s not magic. By understanding why people talk and share, we can craft contagious content.

He found six key drivers that shape what people talk about and share; he calls them STEPPS, an acronym for

  • Social Currency,
  • Triggers,
  • Emotion,
  • Public,
  • Practical Value, and
  • Stories

So, the next time you craft a marketing scheme that includes a desire for viral think about STEPPS and even luck, but forget about hope.

Flickr image credit: seanrnicholson

3 Responses to “Entrepreneurs: Don’t Hope for Viral”
  1. MAPping Company Success Says:

    […] Going viral requires some luck, as do most successes, even if it’s the serendipitous kind (right time/right place), but it’s mostly method, as discussed previously. […]

  2. MAPping Company Success Says:

    […] recently wrote posts here, here and here, with links to more information on creating something […]

  3. What is that viral thing? Says:

    […] Miki Saxon never thought that going viral was “more luck than brains”. She believes that, as with all things that succeed, it is mostly brains and hard work, with a dollop of luck, that anoints your effort with virality. […]

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