How to Make Things Go Viral

Virus envy? Erick Schonfeld (TechCrunch) is spreading the good word of Jonah Peretti, CEO of Buzzfeed and legendary viralmeister behind the Nike sweatshop rebuff and The Rejection Line. A voice worth listening to, Peretti’s 5 Golden Rules of Viralizing simplify the formula, at least in concept. Delivering the goods? That’s still up to you! Or Buzzfeed…

The rules are:
  1. Create media for the Bored At Work Network: There are hundreds of millions of people around the world bored at work sitting in front of their computers connected to high speed networks.  This network is bigger than any traditional media network like CNN or ABC. Create something they will want to pass around.
  2. Practice The Mullet Strategy: Business up front, party on the back.  If you have a Website, keep the front page serious so as not to scare off the casuals.  Give all the crazy commenters and contributors space in the back, and only show them to the rest of the world when they create something that catches on.
  3. Try Big Seed Marketing: If you are  brand trying to create  a viral campaign, it might be hard. True viral memes are hard to reproduce.  It is much easier to make something that still gets passed around, but you might have to spend some money to seed it around the Internet.  The more seed you spread, the more chance it will grow. “Buy the seed, get the viral for free,” he says (this is basically BuzzFeed’s business model).
  4. Target The Maniacs: The Web is ruled by maniacs, people who get worked up about things and push their ideas out.  ”Content is more viral if it helps people express their personality disorders,” notes Peretti.
  5. Be A Mormon, Not A Jew. This one is tongue in cheek.  But Mormonism is a growing religion, whereas Judaism is stagnating in terms of population.  Why?  Mormons are better evangelists.  ”The problem with Jews is that they suck at marketing,” says Peretti.  ”It’s almost like they don’t want anyone else to be a Jew.” His point is that it is not just the quality of an idea that counts, it is how much effort you put into spreading it.

So, that’s the formula, at least in concept. Delivering the goods? That’s still up to you! Or Buzzfeed…

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