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What’s it Take to “Go Viral?” 11 Traits to Give Your Idea Wings

January 31, 2016
Aaron Polmeer

By mattround

Posted by mattround

Before joining Distilled I worked for UsVsTh3m, an experimental Trinity Mirror project, where we created hundreds of games, quizzes and daft “toys.” We had unprecedented freedom to try out new interactive formats, learning a great deal about what works… and what doesn’t.

The key to success was “viral” traffic. You’ve probably heard the term bandied about in reference to something popular, and might even have rolled your eyes; it’s a much-abused buzzword.

The idea is that online word-of-mouth can drive exponential traffic growth and broad media coverage with little or no traditional promotional support, but achieving this requires a certain way of thinking. This article focuses on interactive content, but many of the same principles will apply to other formats.

The viral life cycle

It’s useful to aim for interactive content to be…

  1. Clickable — When someone sees a link and description (on social media or a site), it seems compelling enough to take a look.
  2. Playable — The visitor sticks with it and finds it enjoyable or interesting.
  3. Shareable — There’s a strong urge to tell others, often involving the visitor sharing their individual result/score.

You usually need all three aspects to be strong to get a viral hit. It’s easy to focus on one, an experienced team can usually achieve two, but it’s difficult to consistently get the full set.

Crudely, you can think of it in terms of losing potential sharers, ultimately needing to end up with more than one to start the next cycle(s). This image explains it nicely:

Congratulations, it’s going viral! That’s a massive simplification, but a helpful one.

11 ways to make it shareable

1. Attributes

Develop a concept that ties in with the player’s personal attributes: age, location, abilities, personality, etc. For example, measuring reaction time in milliseconds is fine… but if you can correlate it with age, then you’ve immediately got something far more compelling.

2. Tribes

Reinforce a sense of belonging; tribes can be regional, generational, interest-based, political, etc. Perhaps play different tribes off against each other so that your interactive content can address niche groups while having broad appeal overall.

3. Insights

It tells you something about yourself or, more likely, confirms a flattering/intriguing attribute, leading into…

4. Humblebrags

Sharing to make yourself look good… but without it seeming too blatant.

5. “One more go…”

Ensure the player is hooked and will want others to share in that. Although bear in mind that the best games often aren’t the most viral — adding multiple levels and features to a game tends to put off non-gamers and can actually reduce sharing (enthusiasm has a chance to ebb away, and the game will tend to end on a low note when the player finally fails or quits).

6. Topical

People are impressed by fast-turnaround topical content, and sharing it can show you’re up-to-date (perhaps even the first in your social circle to discover something). We regularly developed and launched games in half a day at UsVsTh3m, and more than once within an hour. This obviously isn’t feasible for most commercial projects, but with more agile development and …read more

Source:: Moz Blog

      

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