Answering “How can I go viral?”

Working in social media is pretty interesting, especially when I meet people and see their confusion as to what exactly that means. My friends think it’s a fun job because they assume I spend all day liking posts on Facebook and tweeting throughout the workday. I mean some of it deals with doing that but no way I would spend 8 hours on just those two platforms.

Taken from Enhance

The higher ups in companies I’ve worked for and people I’ve interviewed like to focus on the big picture in social media. Such as looking at metrics, seeing how social media can be utilized to increase traffic to their website and their uncertainty if ads are necessary to promote content on Facebook. When Facebook announced its change to the newsfeed, Twitter was flooded with brands and social media managers not entirely sure what that would mean to their 2018 strategy.

Found on Gif Finder

Based on what I see on social media job postings and interviews, people are looking to hire someone who fits the mold of both creative and analytical, which can be confusing. It reminds me of the Myers Briggs test where once I was told I was an ENTP did it mean I didn’t have introverted tendencies. I honestly have no idea how to properly answer the question “ are you more analytical or creative?” because it could be a trick question to find out if I’m a fit for what they’re looking and if I answer both is that a cop out answer. Someone can easily understand how to be both but sway towards preferring to deal with analytics one day and another to creativity.

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I recall talking to someone about being a social media coordinator and their first question was “are you able to make things go viral?”. That’s a difficult question to answer because technically I can because a tweet I post can go viral but it doesn’t mean it will happen all the time. Also people can have a different definition of viral, viral can be a post that gets great traction for a day or two another can continue months after it’s been posted. I’ve oddly experienced both and reminded me of this book I read about 4 years ago called Contagious: Why Things Catch On. It was an insightful read, even though it was published in 2013 it still has great points on what works in social media in 2018. Jonah Berger had these six principles called STEPPS that causes things to be shared or talked about.

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Principles

Social Currency- The idea of this principle is what we talk about influences how others see a brand. Knowing about something makes you in the know, gravitating people towards you for information. When I read through this principle it reminds of influencers and celebrities. I gravitate towards brands such as Hubspot and Buffer because of their knowledge and articles about social media.

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Triggers- These are a stimuli that prompts people to link related things together. For example when I see Converse I automatically think about sneakers and not the word (engage in conversation). Thinking about this now, when I read triggers I thought of people getting upset over a political topic. In this aspect that would work because reading articles that trigger an emotion would lead someone to share it with their thoughts on it inviting a conversation or debate.

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Emotion- Based on this principle the more you care about something the more likely you are to share it. As a brand adding feeling to your content can increase the chances your audience will share it. If someone cares about animals and follow a brand that focuses on animals, odds are they’re going to share a post that makes them happy or sad on their page or via DM. I know I tend to share content that focuses on TV shows, movies, sports and Converse. Also since my friends know this odds are they’re also going to message me any of those content.

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Public- This principle focuses more on products; creating a product that advertises on its own, taking place after someone has bought the product. This works perfectly with fashion, creating a pair of sneakers or jeans that can be shown off on social media brings more attention than if it was coming directly from that brand. Explaining why brands hire influencers to help increase brand awareness. Whenever I see a pair of Converse on Instagram I always want to know where they found it or its time to do some digging.

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Practical Value- Showing a product that will save time, improve health or save money will guarantee people will spread the word. I’ve noticed that whenever I found an app that makes my life easier I’m more than likely to post about it on social media. When it comes to products I think of the FitBit, a device that made people more aware of their health, how often they don’t walk and making it social makes people competitive and more likely to continue to use the sports watch.

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Stories- Creating a story that goes with your message, that way when someone is talking about your brand or product the story will be included. When I reread this principle it reminded me of Blue Apron since their ads are common in the podcast space. Even though I haven’t used their product yet I can easily explain their purpose because their story is easily stated in those ads.

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Including a social media strategy with all these principles could be difficult but when I think of the brands/people I follow they include more than one of these principles. Even if a brand is able to use more than one principle that won’t guarantee they’d go viral. Luck plays a huge factor too when I’m on Twitter and see a post with thousands of retweets and likes. I like to check the comments because they explain why people resonated with the tweet. Especially when it’s an account that doesn’t have thousands of followers, one post can have thousands of engagements and the rest are in the single or double digits.

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I went through the only tweets I created that had over 100,000 impressions and noticed that each one had a gif or photo. I also didn’t use a lot of characters outside of a hashtag. Then again, being included in Moments helped and posting along a hashtag while it’s at its peak makes a huge difference on how many people will see your content. Whenever I see a trending topic I’m hours behind on I know I’m too late to actually gain engagement on a tweet I send out.

Found on Twitter Analytics

Even if that’s the case, looking at the top tweets is a great way to learn what worked with people. It doesn’t mean if I emulate a tweet for a different topic would mean I’d get those thousands of engagements. It’s best to have fun on social media even if you’re a brand. The best way of learning what works with users is to see what they tend to engage with more. The way I see it you should write as you would talk, authenticity is key in this era of content creation.

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