Six Ingredients to Add to Your Viral Recipe
As you just discovered, the six core human needs motivate people across many areas of their life. To recap, these six needs include:
Love and connection
Now, if you’ve studied viral content to any degree, then you’ve probably heard about some of the ingredients that go into getting people to click the “share” button.
Just about ALL of those factors tie back into the six human needs that you just learned about. And the more of these factors you can use to drive your viral campaigns, the more likely it is that your viral campaigns will sweep across your niche like a wind-blown prairie fire.
So, let’s take a look at some of the specific ingredients that go into creating viral content, and how those factors tie into your audience’s six core human needs…
People love sharing anything that is new.
That’s why copycat viral campaigns don’t work. If you try to do the same thing as someone else, people are going to yawn and scroll to the next thing in their feed or hit the back button.
As mentioned previously, our brains actually reward us when we encounter something novel. As such, people share novel content to create this good feeling in others too.
And in the process, sharing novel content fulfills our core needs for:
Making a connection with others, because people love when their friends introduce them to something new.
Significance, because we feel important when we share something so new that no one else in our circle has seen it yet.
Of course, the novel content provides variety for both the sharer and the recipients. And, depending on what the content is about, it may provide for growth and contribution.
For example, a new way to grow tomatoes may surprise people (there’s the variety) and contribute to both growth (intellectual learning) and contribution in the niche.
Another factor that often goes into creating viral content is when the content is controversial. Because whether the audience agrees with it or not, they’re going to share it.
“I can’t believe what this disgusting comedian said about women!
Look at this! Can you believe it?!”
“Listen what this comedian says about women…hilarious!”
Depending on the context, sharing controversial content can satisfy the following core values:
Connection. Especially if the person sharing the information is sure the audience will approve. Take the example above of someone sharing a “disgusting” comedian – if the person is sure his or her friends will feel the same way, then he/she will share to foster connection and develop deeper bonds.
Variety. Most people go out of their way to AVOID being offensive/controversial. However, someone who is seeking some variety may post something controversial just to see the responses it brings.
If you look around at what’s popular online, you’re likely to see plenty of humorous things being shared like crazy, or anything that’s entertaining in other ways.
The need to humor and entertain people by sharing content primarily fulfills the following needs:
Connection. Making people laugh is a great way to create a deeper connection and get approval from others.
Contribution. This is particularly true if someone is sharing for the “greater good.” For example, if I know you’re having a bad day and I pass along a funny video to you to cheer you up, then I’m not only making a connection, I’m also thinking about your needs (i.e., making a contribution).
Variety. Often what makes something funny is that we don’t expect it, such as the punchline to a witty joke or a video or a cat epically failing when it’s trying to jump. These unexpected moments create variety.
Here’s another reason people share content…
Supports Worldview/Defines Sharer
We want people to know who we are. And yet it would be pretty weird if we wrote long Facebook posts about ourselves or posted monologue videos on YouTube. Because let’s face it, we’d look like raging narcissists.
Instead, people get to know us over time. And one way that we let people get a sneak peek into our lives is by sharing content that supports our worldview or in some way defines us.
For example, if you share political content of a particular slant, your visitors and followers are going to quickly realize where you fall on the political spectrum. Or if you share content on specific causes (such as dog rescue videos), your followers will learn more about how you like dogs.
As such, sharing “defining” information can satisfy a variety of the core needs, including:
Connection: Not only does it help people better understand us (which deepens relationships), it helps us get approval from those who are similar to us.
Significance: We may share something because it makes us feel superior or special. An example is a vegan who shares a video about the treatment of farm animals.
Growth. Sometimes, we share something in an area where we recently grew. For example, someone who just got out of a bad relationship may share quotes about how to avoid toxic relationships. In this case, they’re making sure their strength (not the toxic relationship) defines them.
Here’s the next factor that makes content go viral…
The “Cool” or “Weird” Factor
This is content that makes you or your audience stop in their tracks and say, “Whoa, that’s cool!” or “Whoa, that’s weird.” Here’s what core needs this sort of content fulfills:
Connection. By now, you’re starting to see a pattern, right? People almost always share as a means of reaching out and connecting with others.
Variety. Obviously, this is the big factor. If something is “weird,” then it taps into that need for variety.
Significance. People who like “weird” things often feel special or even superior to others. And people who like “cool” thing also feel significant, because everyone wants to be one of the cool kids.
If you can create something that’s extraordinarily valuable because it teaches people a new way to do something (or just delivers the information in a new way), then you’re going to have a campaign that goes viral because it taps into the following:
Connection. (You knew that was coming!)
Growth. People have a desire to grow intellectually, and learning new information definitely fulfills that desire.
Variety. Naturally, if people are learning new ways to do things, their desire for variety and a sense of adventure will be fulfilled.
Significance. If people are learning “secrets,” then they’re going to feel superior to those who don’t know these secrets.
Contribution. When people share new ways of doing things, they’re getting a need met by contributing to the ongoing discussions in that particular niche.
This sort of campaign may even tap into a desire for certainty, IF the information is something that is focused on proving security for people (such as information about how to grow one’s money).
But heads up: in order for this sort of campaign to work, the information needs to be truly new to users. If you don’t kick in that novelty factor, then the whole thing is going to fall apart.
As you can see, most of the key “ingredients” that you see in successful viral campaigns tend to tap into those six core needs. But those aren’t the only factors that can help your campaign.
(Continue to the next post for more)