Life skills
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Life skills

The 5 Fundamentals Of Infectious Word Of Mouth

Source: Stencil

A gunman shot a man outside our office building. The building was on lock down. A frantic colleague ranted about the news to anyone willing to listen. Nobody refused. News spread. Soon, the whole office stirred in a frenzy.

An hour passes. It’s now 4:30 PM. We sat there, waiting for an update from the police. Is there a gunman running around shooting people? We never received any further updates. Soon, the police cars and the ambulance left the scene. We figured the crisis ended.

The Surprising Conclusion

We arrived at work the next day. Here is how the story played out.

There was no shooting. A man injured his leg due to a traffic accident. Someone saw blood. He assumed it was a gunshot wound. He spread the word to a few colleagues. The story passed along from person to person. The office mood descended into near hysteria. All of this emotion sprung from a faulty assumption.

Without the aid of technology, word of mouth spread the news like wildfire. Everyone shared it until the point of saturation. Nobody questioned it.

Nothing beats the efficiency, credibility and potency of word-of-mouth.

The Best Promotion Money Never Buys

It holds the most currency. You cannot buy it, yet it costs you nothing. You cannot predict it. It’s hard to measure but the effect leaves no doubt.

How do you create it?

As a writer, I’ve had a few stories reach the cusp of virality. Some reap tons of shares on Twitter and Facebook. Some stories perform well but receive no shares on Social Media. What makes someone share one story but not another?

Each of my top five shared stories check off at least four of these five boxes.


All five stories make a promise to the reader. Some make explicit promises. Others make implicit promises. In either case, the promise is the same.

By the end of this article, you will learn to [fill in the blank]… even if you…

The story, How I wrote 200 stories in 200 days promises the reader the formula I use to write daily stories. It shows how they can do the same thing even if they failed in the past.

If the reader feels I kept or exceeded my promise, she feels more comfortable sharing it with her network.


Unique beats new. Think of it as a new twist on an old favorite. My most shared story “How An “Experience Journal Fuels My Daily Writing Habit” builds on an old practice, journaling. I added a new twist to it by naming my version of the journal an experience journal. That makes it stand out from your run of the mill article on journal practices.

10 Unusual But Critical Edit Checks received a similar amount of shares and traffic from multiple sources. A billion edit checklists exist on the net. I made mine different by including edit checks from one discipline and applying it to another. That made it unique.

Fulfills A Desire

In How I Wrote 200 Articles In 200 Days, I revealed my daily writing process. Lots of people want to write a daily blog. Lots of people struggle with it. My process gave them a tool. More important, it gave something else. It fueled a belief.

This belief…


How A Small Coffee Shop Beats The Corporate Giant received almost five thousand page views without going through a big publication. Word of mouth allowed it to spread. It’s one of my most shared stories on Twitter.

I can only speculate why. The message of the story provides hope. The mom and pop shop wins against a bigger competitor. The “little guy beating the big guy” inspires us. When you do a good job telling the story, people share it.

Finally… Never Compromise On This

You can skimp on any one of the first four. One common factor exists behind all successful word of mouth campaigns.


Your idea should resonate with your audience in an instant. It should never require thinking.

Complexity prevents virality

Before You Go…

I write about marketing, creativity and writing. I’m giving away guides on creativity, bullet writing and editing checklist? Click here to get yours.

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Barry Davret

Work in Forge | Elemental | BI | GMP | Others | Contact: barry@barry-davret dot com. Join Medium for full access: