Ever seen a Surfing Seal? Or better yet… a Surfing Pig?

If you said yes to either of the above questions… it’s probably because you were one of the nearly 2 Million viewers this Surfin’ Seal received on YouTube, or one of the nearly 4 Million views this Water Lovin’ Pig received when his video was posted on YouTube.

Both of these videos went what is now well known to be, VIRAL.

And no, I don’t mean viral in the sense of a fatal epidemic wiping out thousands back in the Middle ages. No thanks. I mean the 21st century meaning where a regular Joe, just like you or me, chucks up a video on the beloved platform, YouTube, and VOLIA! Within minutes, hours, days, that video has been seen by thousands.

No way, how can thousands of people just find a video out of the blue? Well my friends, according to Kaplan and Heanlein,  all it takes is three easy steps…

  1. The messengers: Market mavens, Social Hubs, and Salespeople.
    Your video isn’t just seen by millions magically… its takes three special types of people to get it soaring. Firstly, the Market Maven, this is the guy who see’s it first. Always in-the-know and constantly sharing his knowledge straight away among his social network. Next, all it takes is for one of the Market Mavens connections to be the Social Hub, this is that friend who knows EVERYONE. Come on, you all know one of them, if not, then you’re probably that person. The Social Hub of the crowd is what takes your video from 1 Facebook wall post to 1000 Facebook wall posts and shares. (This is the guy you thank when you become rich and famous from that epic fail you had trying to make your cat, who hates water, surf).
    Then, in some cases, these two connections alone isn’t enough, you need the Salesperson. The Salesperson jumps in between your Market Maven and Social Hub to jazz your video up. Make the message more exciting and inviting for your fellow cat lovers.
  2. The message: Memorable and interesting
    Basically this means your video needs to provoke emotion. Happy, sad, humour, anger, fear, whatever. If you can make your audience feel something, then they are definitely more likely to remember it and share it.
  3. The environment: Dunbar’s Number and ordinary good luck
    What’s Dunbar’s Number? I wondered this too… Turns out it is the theory that 150 is the maximum number of social connections a person can maintain in their daily life. Therefore when we say lets share it with ‘everyone’.. this really means about 150 people. [For a far more thorough explanation, read here). Dunbar’s Number makes up our social environment, as well as the fact that people will only share if they think the message is worth it. The video of your cat purring isn’t going to go viral if it is the same as every other purring cat video (as entertaining as it may be)… BUT, if your cat is hand-standing on a surfboard whilst purring… well hey… I think you’ve got something special!

    Then of course, plain old, see a shooting star, make a wish, good luck. Like with pretty much everything, it definitely helps! (This is not to say that viral marketing is unachievable without luck… maybe just a bit more hard work).

My point is, if you want to share something with the world, if you have a product, brand, pet, car, talent (the list goes on) that you think everyone would benefit from seeing. Well you can make this happen. As long as you are smart about what you’re putting out there, how you’re putting it out there, and who you’re pushing to see it first. It won’t always work… but maybe one day your luck will change. Fingers crossed…

I pose a question to you, fellow readers and Surfing animal lovers… what would you post a video of if you wanted it to go viral?

Please leave any comments, thoughts, questions below. I’d love to hear from you!

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