Many have heard of the term “going viral” and the first thing that came to mind was a popular video that many are sharing and commenting on. That’s not far off from the truth. When searching the web for a definition. Essentially, it is a spur of the moment flurry of activity, uncontrollable, with interest to share, comment on, and engage.
From research, there are five key elements that contribute to going viral; emotion, style, engagement, timing, and relevance. Emotion drives interest; whether positive or negative. It could be a video of children playing (positive and humorous) or a negative video (someone making a racist statement) like that of which has been in the news regarding the LA Clippers. Style, like with Ronaldinho: Touch of Gold (Nike) where Ronaldinho purchased new Nike sneakers and demonstrated amazing football skills. Engagement, like with the movement of animated avatars like that of the Mad Men Yourself campaign. Timing is important too; consider the fake job interview for a Mother’s position. It was posted around Mother’s Day. Relevance, which captures the interest if a specific audience: humor, family, pets, or politics; for example, remember “Hump Day” by Geico?
In the non-profit world, going viral can be good and bad. It can bring positive or negative awareness. Remember, going viral is uncontrollable. However, it can be useful in spreading awareness; for example status reports during Hurricane Sandy, videos during the Japan Tsunami, or people needing food in Africa.