Developing viral material: Is it possible to harness viral patterns?

  • 30-second summary: STEPPS model songs out social currency, sets off, emotional worth, public appeal, practical worth, and background stories as typical points in between viral material.
  • Individuals’s tendency to imitate popular behavior and belong of a group activity results in viral patterns.
  • The web likes content that is raw and authentic.
  • Evelyn Johnson information the aspects of viral content and how brand names can accomplish it.

George Miller, notoriously known as Joji is among the fastest rising artists. He’s the very first Asian-born artist to leading R&B and hip-hop charts, he achieved this feat with his very first studio album. But Joji is no stranger to fame. Before he was a teenage heartthrob– Joji was garnering countless views on YouTube as FilthyFrank. This online personality was edgy, outrageous, and oftentimes, outright filthy which helped certify as viral material.

To top everything off, FilthyFrank was responsible for producing one of the biggest viral patterns in the history of the Internet.

The Harlem Shake

When TikTok wasn’t a thing and Twitter was simply a few years old– viral trends were rather uncommon, back. It was uncommon for people to reproduce a popular video and take part in activities just because others were doing it on the internet.

The Harlem Shake altered all this. It’s difficult to describe this pattern so I will let Wikipedia do its task.

“The videos normally last about 30 seconds and feature an excerpt of the 2012 tune “Harlem Shake” by American EDM producer Baauer. Baauer’s song starts with a 15-second intro, a bass drop, then 15 seconds with the bass, and a lion roar at the end of the very first 30 seconds. Normally, a video begins with a single person (typically helmeted or masked) dancing to the song alone for 15 seconds, surrounded by other individuals not focusing or relatively unaware of the dancing individual. When the bass drops, the video cuts to the whole group dancing for the remainder of the video”.

To describe it simply, a small 30-second clip of Joji dancing in his Pink Guy persona in addition to his good friends in over-the-top outfits caught fire, and quickly, everyone wanted in on the act. Even the Norwegian Army participated in the fun.

Now, does this make any sense? Obviously not. The internet can be quite senseless sometimes( or perhaps most of the time ). It’s tough to determine just what will capture the imagination of the masses. However this hasn’t stopped social researchers from

evaluating virality and what triggers people to take part in a pattern.

Just what makes something go viral? Let’s say you are a marketing supervisor at an ecommerce shop attempting to develop a viral discount code. You might look at popular patterns and get bedazzled by their randomness. Should you collect a group of individuals in random costumes and make them dance? Perhaps it will end up being the next Harlem Shake?

Ideally, it wouldn’t come to that as numerous academics and marketing professionals have attempted to understand web virality. Among them, Jonah Berger STEPPS Model and Robert Cialdini’s Principle of Social Proof and a study by Cambridge University provides an important insight into the psychology behind viral videos.

1. Jonah Berger’s STEPPS Model

Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger is a familiar name when it comes to comprehending virality. In his book Contagious: Why Things Catch On, Berger attributes six primary reasons for the success of videos that go viral. He specifies it as the STEPPS model:

  1. Social Currency: People share material that makes them seem cool and wise. While the majority of us wish to believe otherwise, we do care what others think about us.
  2. Triggers: Relates to the idea of “top of mind, suggestion of tongue”. People speak about things that remain in their minds.
  3. Feeling: When people care, they share. People are likely to share content they found emotionally exciting.
  4. Public: Anything that’s already popular is most likely to be shared even more. Individuals mimic other people.
  5. Practical Value: Useful things is likewise widely shared. Informative content has excellent worth and hence “How to” videos typically go viral.
  6. Stories: People are always thinking about compelling stories and stories. Anything that connects with the audience has an opportunity of being shared.

It’s tough not to trace a minimum of a few of these characteristics in material that goes viral.

Old Town Road

Lil Nas X’s Old Town Road became a hit since it had a specific social currency. It was a cool genre-bending tune about nation life that people liked sharing. Considering that the song was released around a time when a game with comparable themes– Red Dead Redemption, was exceptionally popular, it activated a massive action.

People were sharing the memes of Old Town Road long before it ended up being top at Billboard 100. This suggests the tune had a public element as well from the STEPPS model. Undoubtedly, the song offered no genuine useful value. But it had an intriguing story: the song was eliminated from the nation chart as critics believed it did not belong to the genre. This triggered nation legend, Billy Ray Cyrus, to come out in the song’s support and work together with the singer.

2. Robert Cialdini’s principle of social proof

In his book, ‘Influence– The Psychology of Persuasion’, Robert Ciadini introduces the principle of social evidence. In his own words:

“The higher the number of people who find any idea proper, the more the concept will be proper … We will utilize the actions of others to pick appropriate habits for ourselves, specifically when we view those others as comparable to ourselves”.

It’s likewise referred to as herd mindset or groupthink, where we assume an action is suitable since others are performing it.

Consider this: How many times have you retweeted a tweet that currently had countless retweets?

“When a social media post reaches a specific level of popularity– it is most likely to get shares from individuals who are more influenced by the number of likes than the content itself,”

states Julia Markle, the head of digital material at ClothingRIC.

“This generates a chain reaction that transforms a popular post into a viral post.”

3. Viral selflessness

Virality on the web is most spontaneous and often random. Often it is by design. In a paper published by the University of Cambridge, the popular ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was called as “viral altruism”.

Social psychologist Dr. Sander van der Linden explained some essential psychological aspects that trigger such patterns to ignite. Among these is the power of social standards, in particular the destination of signing up with a social consensus and the goal to conform to prosocial behavior, a clear ethical incentive to act, and the need for a “warm glow”: the emotional benefit that’s gotten from feeling compassionate.

In simple words, individuals act:

  • To take part in a popular activity
  • To get the emotional benefit of providing to others
  • When they believe it’s ethically the best thing to do

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge appealed to individuals’s silver lining and this made it commonly effective. Its virality resulted in $220 million being raised for battling the illness. However, not all comparable obstacles that go viral have a charitable element.

For instance, the “Don’t Rush Challenge” wasn’t for a greater cause however became popular as it permitted people to come together and develop a connection by imitating a popular habits.

What makes the Ice Bucket Challenge unique is that it showed how internet virality can be harnessed and utilized to motivate action. Of course, this is easier stated than done for brand names.

How can brands produce viral material? The web is filled with listicles that guide brands in crafting viral material. Having well-designed infographics, solid backlinks, and hiring influencers don’t constantly drive a flood of visitors to your website.

It’s crucial that along with covering the fundamentals, you keep one crucial factor into consideration; credibility. From the Hit or Miss video to Old Town Road and ALS Ice Bucket Challenge– all these popular patterns were authentic and raw.

Considering this, brand names need to create content that promotes human connection. Practically all people who’ve studied virality think “being associated with something big” encourages people to share content and participate in challenges. Whether you miss or strike, there’s no harm in spreading your word through authentic material that’s designed to go viral.

Don’t make the mistake of creating something that’s an outright attempt to money in on the web culture. Millennials and Gen Z in particular will be especially hostile towards any such effort.