It’s not often, but every now and then I produce something that goes viral.
Here’s a breakdown of why it works.
There are five key points to making your stuff shareable. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a video, a blog post, a sales page, or an e-book; these principles apply.
1. Give people something to talk about.
There’s this (wrong) idea being bandied about that the only way to get a reaction is to be controversial.
Certainly, that can work, but if you’re not in the business of picking fights in order to provoke a reaction, try being remarkable instead. According to my friend, Seth, that means people are able to remark on what you’ve done. It doesn’t mean that you have to paint the Sistine Chapel. But you do need to make something that is really marketable.
The first seven seconds of the video fit the bill and got people talking.
Admittedly, it pokes a little fun at some of the all-too-common Internet marketing techniques, but it’s done with tongue firmly in cheek and in the best of spirits. You can hardly call it controversial.
Instead, it’s what’s called a “pattern interrupt.” You make the viewer (or reader) think they’re getting one thing, and then, with a sudden change of direction, you make them laugh, think or feel different then expected. It disarms them.
Which brings me neatly to point two.
2. Make people feel comfortable.
People are going to share the stuff they like, stuff that makes them feel good. Nobody wants to share a cold or flu virus, and nobody wants to share something that makes them feel queasy.
I put a lot of care and attention into getting the tone of this video just right. Everything from the visuals, to the timbre of my voice, to the background music (or lack of it) was designed to put the viewer at ease.
If you can put your audience at ease, then they’ll be receptive and open to sharing your message with their network.
3. Respect your audience.
How many times have you visited a sales page and left feeling a little dirty, a little taken-advantage of?
One of your biggest bugbears, if you’re like most of the people I polled on this, is visiting a web page with a video that doesn’t let you pause, play, rewind or fast forward.
By providing my audience with full control over how the video plays I’m saying, “I respect you.”
If you feel dirty watching it, you won’t forward it. Conversely, if you feel respected, you’re likely to forward it to people you respect.
4. Be unconventional by being yourself.
According to popular wisdom, because attention span has never been shorter, if you’re trying to sell somebody something, you have to hit them between the eyes with loud headlines, catchy bullet points, flashing colors and loud noises.
The video I made to promote the Alliance doesn’t do any of that (expect for the bit at the beginning to point out what you’re not going to see).
It runs 23 minutes and 23 seconds (yes, exactly) and the viewing stats are excellent with many, many people watching it all the way through. Most of the video is just me as me, addressing the camera. There’s no fancy lighting tricks, no kittens falling off tables and no laughing babies.
And you know what? People are watching it and sharing it.
If I’d listened to all the “gurus” and followed their advice, you’d see a very different video out there. You would have seen a video that didn’t represent me, my brand, and what I stand for.
I’ve always been a little skeptical of my industry with all its hype and anti-intellectualism. Don’t get me wrong, I admire many of its leaders and you know how much I love and respect the people I serve.
Nonetheless, I do my best to be true to my beliefs and what I feel is appropriate. That’s all each of us can do. And that truth is a moveable line so I’m careful that it doesn’t creep in the wrong direction. When it does, I try to quickly move it back to it’s rightful place.
Trust your gut. The best way to be distinct is by being more yourself, more fully self-expressed.
5. Be useful and relevant.
Finally, you have to provide useful, relevant and timely information. That’s the real key. Truly relevant and useful material is always shareable.
It’s December and many small business owners like you are looking at their accounts and performance over the last twelve months, and starting to put a plan in place for 2012.
That’s timely and relevant.
Of course, I’m telling you about my program as well. But if it’s not right for you, you’ll still get value from watching the video (I believe).
Take a look at the video I put together, and see how it ticks the boxes above:
- It gives people something to talk about (especially the first seven seconds).
- I make you feel immediately comfortable so that you want to stick around.
- My love and respect and gratitude for you shines through from the very beginning.
- It’s unlike many of the sales videos you’ll have seen recently.
- It’s useful and relevant.
Keep thinking big about who you are and what you offer the world. Much love and big hugs to you this fine day.