How to go viral

Whether you’re a brand or a person, it feels great to be able to get your message across to as many people as possible. As a business, you reach more potential buyers or customers for your products and services. As a person, you feel recognised, validated, and a sense of belonging.

People will argue that going viral can be a good or bad thing. But as the common saying goes, there is no bad publicity.

STEPPS to virality / make people want to share your message:

  1. Social currency: Make a person look better in social eyes. People tell others because it gives them status. Give people a way to look good. Make people feel special, appear interesting, exclusive, distinctive, insiders.
  2. Triggers: Top of the mind, tip of the tongue. Think about what hooks might occur in your audience’s daily lives. How can you design and embed your message and positioning in as many hooks as possible? Associate your product with something that people will encounter often. Ideas and activities in people’s lives. E.g. specific days, keywords / phrases.
  3. Emotions: Induce powerful primal emotions, be it negative or positive. Tap into that monkey mind. If you intend to pick negative emotion, make people mad not sad.
  4. Public: Social proof. Format it in a way that’s presentable to the public. Design it so it can be worn in public as a badge of honor. Behavior is public, thoughts are private. Make people feel like they are part of a tribe, an identity, a clique. E.g. Apple’s white earphone.
  5. Practical value: “What’s in it for me? So what?” Make it concrete, applicable, actionable, and relevant to the audience. Listicles, howtos, infographics, guides.
  6. Story: Make the message stick with a story structure. Narratives are more engaging and memorable than dry facts. Use the story arc of beginning, middle, and end. Get people invested in the beginning and they’ll stay for the conclusion.


  • Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Wharton Professor Jonah Berger

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