My first session for this Saturday morning at the 2012 Type-A Parent Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina is Creating Content That Goes Viral with Charlie Capen.
Charlie is co-founder of How to Be a Dad. He says that hypochondriacs are going to love this session, because we’re going to be talking about getting sick, infecting people, and zombies and stuff. (Laughter.)
Any “rules” he gives us are meant to be broken, but they are tips and to be used as an advisory. Things change based on situation. Charlie is an actor in L.A. who has been in about 5 videos that have gone viral on YouTube. They have a Pinterest page, but he says they don’t have any pictures of Ryan Gosling or cake…but he’d consider making a Ryan Gosling board. “He’s still dreamy, right?”
Interruption marketing was the standard, and viral marketing was born of the effort to make advertising more “subversive.”
Meme: An idea that spreads throughout a culture. “Anyone seen cats on the Internet? Bacon? Ninjas? Zombies? The most interesting man in the world?” Some memes are more important than others. A lot of memes generate from “a really horrible community called 4chan.” But a lot of things we get as memes on the Internet in general come from 4chan.
Seeding: Building or gaining exposure for something that you want to spread to as many people as possible. (There are companies that will generate earned views for you for tens of thousands of dollars so a video will get to the front page of YouTube and generate organic views from there.)
How easily is the content consumed, and how easy is it to get to it? Videos can’t be too long, or the completion rate won’t be very good.
Messenger: Where is the content trasmitted? Blogs, forums, social media, email, video streaming. Create lower barriers to entry. How you package the experience and propel it. P.S. YouTube has some of the worst analytics out there. You share things differently based on where it’s being shared – like Reddit, Digg, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Each crowd is a little bit different, so tailor your message for each audience.
Message: Content isn’t king, it’s a spouse. You need the message to work together with the messenger. Find universal themes where people can make emotional connections. Humor, emotional impact, and things that garner a response. Neutral content won’t go viral; controversy spreads better.
The first step to sharing is exposure. The Facebook algorithm change made a lot of people unhappy because you can’t see everything your friends post. Twitter virality is like a flash and is gone, but Facebook has a little longer shelf life. Pinterest is more aesthetic. StumbleUpon is sort of like Digg…you have to be there, but you can’t just be putting your own content out there. There is a parenting community on Reddit, but the typical Redditer is a bit intense, a bit snarky. Up your snark if you go on there.
You can’t decide to “make a viral video.” What makes it viral is that it’s being shared in a way that it takes on a life of its own. Viral content will always degrade and dwindle down in the end.
What are the current themes? What are people talking about? Cliches are recognizable, but that’s why they work. It’s about how you turn a cliche on its ear.
Another indicator that something is going viral is that people are stealing it and repackaging it, like How to Be a Dad’s Co-Sleeping Diagrams. People cropped out their logo and the link back to their site, which meant they weren’t getting the traffic, but also meant they’d really made it big.
We’re looking at Dan Zarrella’s hierarchy of contagiousness.
“Don’t be linkbait-y, if you can, please.” (No laughter in the room. Am I the only one who found that amusing?)
Organically acquiring followers is the way to go, because “bought” followers are not motivated to be engaged, so you’re not really getting the attention you want.
Find your fanboys. Know who you’re talking to, where they are, what platforms they use, and how to create a concept that will be attractive to them.
The first three words of your YouTube tags are the most important keywords. When they did the parody of Rebecca Black’s “Friday” video, they chose “Epic Mullet Guy” because it was highly memorable.
There’s a great infographic he’s got on Pinterest called Understanding Viral Content Marketing that sums up the main points succinctly.
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Tags: blogging, conferences, social media, Type-A Parent