ViralWhatever.com’s Secret Sauce & Techniques to Teach!

1st piece of advice: CREDIBILITY CHECK! If anyone tries to “teach” you anything related to virality (viral content creation, viral marketing, viral WHATEVER), I strongly suggest asking them questions like: a) how many things they have created that have truly gone viral, b) how many growth charts/graphs (or even spreadsheet data) have they ever studied (or even seen!) while something is actually experiencing a period of viral growth, c) what was the total reach? d) and, just to make sure they’re not just blowing smoke up your ass, maybe ask them what their “viral coefficient” was? ;)
P.S. For the record, IF you had asked ME those questions, MY answers would have been: a) ~50 viral ventures, b) thousands, c) reach of EACH: 1+ Million / COLLECTIVE reach: ~495 MILLION, d) our viral coefficients varied dramatically (partly based on how we defined time periods and viral cycle times in terms of hours, days, or weeks) but our most consistent viral coefficients were between 1.5 and 2.5 (occasionally as high as 20+)
[Click to go to Part 1: “Background & Bio / Experience & Expertise” — 10+ years creating VIRAL WHATEVER — Including 45+ Viral Ventures reaching over a million people each and collectively reaching ~495 Million]
  • This may sound hypocritical, but… I cringe any time I hear someone say their [product, app, content, whatever] is “going to be viral” — Because A) Viral is technically only a term that can be applied after-the-fact (when/if it has actually achieved a growth rate with a viral coefficient of >1 — explained better later) and B) I believe that “going viral” should NEVER be part of a business plan or a strategy that you or your investors are betting on! *UNLESS* you’ve done it multiple times before and truly understand the art, science, math, psychology, etc. behind “going viral” — Because…
  • “GOING VIRAL”… #ItsComplicated
    I have studied “Virality” for many years… and I’ve created 40+ viral hits (each engaging over a MILLION people each — collective total reach of ~500 MILLION!), but I could probably teach a full semester “Viral Whatever” class and/or write an entire “Viral Whatever” book (both of which I hope to do!) and still not properly convey even half of the **MANY factors that impact virality….
  • ** Yes, there are MANY elements of ART. Yes, there are MANY elements of SCIENCE… MANY elements of MATH… MANY elements of PSYCHOLOGY… MANY elements of both SOCIAL MEDIA and traditional NEWS MEDIAYes, the DETAILS MATTER! … The IMAGES matter, the WORDS matter, the TIMING matters, the MEDIUM matters, the EASE OF SHARING matters… the SEED AUDIENCE matters… etc. etc. And THE VIRAL COEFFICIENT DEFINITELY MATTERS! (But we will discuss all this and more when/if we work together!)
  • Yes, a viral idea CAN (theoretically) come from anywhere/anyone. But if you’re betting on it (which you are — either with money or time or opportunity cost), then you probably want to go with probability, statistics, and go with the best odds, no? … We estimate that the average person has literally a 1-IN-A-MILLION chance of creating something truly viral… while there are certain people, using certain strategies, that can make it MUCH more likely… 1 in a thousand? 1 in a hundred? 1 in ten?!?! [Note: All our program participants and partners will learn MUCH more about this — and you’ll likely get to launch, seed, manage a potentially-viral product, service, campaign, whatever]
  • I believe most people have very skewed perceptions on virality, how it happens, and how difficult/rare it is to achieve… But that’s completely understandable if you stop and really think about the following:
     A) >99% of the videos you see ARE viral videos — they only reached you BECAUSE they are viral.
     B) YOU WILL NEVER SEE >99.99% of all videos made — why/how would you? they won’t reach you BECAUSE they’re NOT viral. 
    C) Replace “video” above with “app”, “website”, “photo”, “song”, “product” etc. and the statements are still fairly accurate!
My first Viral Venture was something called The Rejection Hotline — and this segment on CNN was the first LIVE TV segment I had ever done… Makes for a great story now (ask me about it!), but there’s no chance I’m showing you the video clip! (I was nervous, awkward, didn’t know what to do with my hands, forgot what I wanted to say… I really appreciated them having me on, but, I was TERRIBLE!)
  • I often say “potentially-viral” (in regard to future ventures — mine or those of my consulting clients) because, in my experience, most people who use the word “viral” to describe something BEFORE it launches, do not actually understand what viral means. By definition, something is not viral until it has actually “gone viral” (spread like “a virus”, multiplying/growing with every new person it reaches or “infects” — or, in quantitative mathematical terms, actually established a “viral coefficient” of greater than 1). Until then, it is, at best, only “potentially-viral”.
  • [When someone tells me they’re working on a “viral video”, part of me always wants to get really sassy/feisty and ask them if they’re a Time-Traveler from the Future — because, otherwise, how could they possibly know that already?! — because there is a greater than 99% chance that they are mistaken and are working on something that will never actually “go viral.” (Fortunately, I’m only that sassy/cocky/obnoxious/whatever in my own head and I’m significantly more polite/humble/respectful/whatever in real life.)]
  • There are MANY different WAYS things can go viral — and for MANY different reasons. There are some that I particularly like and some that I particularly dislike….

I LOVE when something goes viral based on some combination of exceptional quality, talent/skill, creativity, originality, rarity, authenticity…

I HATE when something goes viral (without anything truly exceptional about it) based entirely on celebrity endorsement and/or mass-media distribution…

[Correction on the previous bullet] I shouldn’t say I “hate” that. If you can get your product launched/endorsed by Oprah or a Kardashian or Ashton Kutcher or Rob Gronkowski… or featured on Shark Tank or something similar, that’s awesome, and kudos to you! I just don’t consider it true “viral marketing” when you have that kind of star power and your starter/seed-audience is so huge — especially if you had to pay them (in cash or equity) for their endorsement or involvement — because that’s a lot closer to just another form of paid advertising / traditional marketing. [See below for the difference between “Marketing” and “Viral Marketing”]

  • NOTE: I feel very differently about celebrity endorsements and media coverage when it was actually the merits of your product/content and the organic/natural virality that caught their attention in the first place!!! Many of our “Humor Hotllines” phone numbers certainly benefited from this several times — here are a few of our examples over the years (where we had no idea they were going to Tweet it until we saw the spike in call volume and did some googling to figure out what had happened)…

  • Here’s a quick summary of (another chapter from the “Viral Whatever” book I’ll probably never get around to actually writing)… “Marketing” vs. “Viral Marketing”…

MARKETING (Regardless of paid or unpaid)

  • Promote/Market/Advertise to: 10,000?
  • Hope that some % [10%?] actually see/hear/watch/read/whatever: 1000?
  • Hope that some % [10%?] take some action — click/subscribe/buy/whatever: 100?

VIRAL MARKETING

  • Launch/Seed/Tell/Expose/Reach: 1000?
  • X % of them think it’s [cool/interesting/whatever] enough to share with an average of Y others: Additional Reach = +4000?
  • X % of them think it’s [cool/interesting/whatever] enough to share with an average of Y others: Additional Reach = +16,000?
  • X % of them think it’s [cool/interesting/whatever] enough to share with an average of Y others: Additional Reach = +64,000?
  • X % of them think it’s [cool/interesting/whatever] enough to share with an average of Y others: Additional Reach = +256,000?
  • X % of them think it’s [cool/interesting/whatever] enough to share with an average of Y others: Additional Reach = +1,024,000?

VIRAL MATH: In the (admittedly over-simplified) example above, the “viral coefficient” is 4 — which is definitely on the high side — and could theoretically exist several very different ways, depending on exactly what we’re talking about (a video? a product? a meme? a news story?)
 — 100% telling/sharing with an average of 4 people each? 
 — 50% telling/sharing with an average of 8 people each? 
 — 25% telling sharing with an average of 16 people each? 
 — 10% telling/sharing with an average of 40 people each? 
 — 1% telling/sharing with an average of 400 people each?

NOTE: We explain all of the above MUCH BETTER in our ViralWhatever.com presentations, workshops, and in everyday discussion (with all our partners, employees, interns, etc.) while we work on real projects!

***NOTE FROM JEFF: While I am very good at CREATING “Viral Whatever”, I admittedly SUCK at many things — including the handling of stress that often comes when our stuff does go viral — as well as the logistics, execution, implementation, and management of it all — and that is why 
WE NEED YOU!!! 
Come join us! 
(or at least TALK to us about MAYBE joining us??)
CONTACT US:
For more information — and/or to express interest in potentially working with us: 
info@StartupWhatever.com

WORK WITH US… LEARN FROM US… LAUNCH VIRAL SH*T WITH US!

  • Ever wondered how something takes off and goes crazy-viral — and if it’s more art or science? or luck?*
  • Ever wondered what psychological factors influence virality? or what the VIRAL MATH looks like to get it viral and keep it growing?*
  • Ever thought about how cool it would be to LITERALLY be the FIRST person to share something that becomes a viral phenomenon reaching millions of people?!*
* [EDITOR’S NOTE: FYI, we actually assume the answer to these questions are probably “NO, NOPE, and NEVER” — because, let’s be honest, who in the world (other than me) would actually be sitting around wondering about all that stuff?! But hopefully you’re thinking about it now because, trust me, it’s pretty cool stuff when you see it up close!] Anyway, to conclude my way-too-wordy pitch, you should come work with us, learn from us, and launch “Viral Whatever” with us! :)

CONTACT US:

For more information — and/or to express interest in potentially working with us: info@StartupWhatever.com

3 Years of Thinking/Writing/Planning:
IamNOTaCEO.com (Entrepreneurial Epiphanies)
ThoughtsOnStartups.com (Thoughts & Theories)
ReThinkingStartups.com (Improvement Initiatives)
ViralWhatever.com (“We make Sh*t Go Viral” Secret Sauce)
Part-Time “Pursuit of Proof” Premises & Programs:
StarterStartups.com / MultipleBasketStartups.com / theSWANstartup.com
Practicing What We Preach:
18Startups.com / PitchingForPartners.com