How to go viral
the six ingredients of highly sharable content.

So, you’ve created some amazing content, posted it on every platform, told your friends and followers to share, like, and subscribe—but nothing is happening. Why?

Why do some ideas spread like wildfire while others go unnoticed?

I spent a very long time trying to answer this question.

I tried marketing courses, growth hacks, and spent more time on social media than anyone ever should.

Then eventually—luckily—I stumbled across Contagious by Jonah Berger.

read this book

Berger is a professor of marketing and an expert on word-of-mouth and virality.

Contagious is full of practical advice for creating viral products and ideas. Berger describes the six basic principles (stepps) that make that make an idea or product go viral:


Social Currency

People like to share ideas that make them look cool, smart, in-the-know, morally superior.

Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. Then create content that matches how they want to be seen.


Triggers

What triggers people to think about the idea? The more people think about it, the more they'll share it.

People need to be reminded of your idea if they're going to talk about it—create content about everyday objects and experiences that will trigger your audience.


Emotion

People share emotionally provocative ideas. If it sparks rage or joy, it'll be shared.

Not all emotions will make people take action—ideas that make people feel calm, content, or sad won't get shared as much ideas that cause joy, laughter, or anger.


Public

Does the idea advertise itself? People will share an idea if they can see other people sharing it.

People copy each other—if you can make content that shares itself—then other people will notice and follow suit.

Example—"sent from my iPhone"


Practical Value

Ideas with pracitcal value are more likely to be shared—people like to help each other.

Highlight how your idea can improve people's lives or save them time and money.


Stories

Ideas embedded in a broader narrative are easier to share. Can the idea be shared in the form of a story?

People like telling stories, so make it as easy and write it for them.

How to use this information?

I use this list whenever I'm coming up with new ideas—if the idea scores well on at least three of the stepps then I do it. It's totally arbitrary. But it works well—I hope it'll work for your too.

Reading Contagious led me to building my first successful project: hey how'd you do that . I can't recommend it enough.

If you're looking for more books that can help you stand out online, check out the resources page .

Thanks for reading,
—John