Virality is one of the most amazing and intriguing aspects of our modern connected world. Information can be shared so easily and quickly that ideas and content can spread across networks with unbelievable speed. When a product or business benefits from such a viral event, it can be easy to dismiss as luck, or a one-in-a-million phenomenon, but as much as luck may be a factor in virality (as it is in almost everything) the truth is that those businesses likely took steps to encourage virality. Here a few of the very basic things you can do which can improve your odds of spreading organically.
1. High Quality Content
Perhaps a better word would be “highly sharable” content—that is, content which is easy consume (videos & images are ideal) and worth sharing (humor, sentimentality, controversy, etc.). Apps themselves aren’t super sharable. What you need is images or video that are appealing capture people’s curiosity, directing them toward the app. For your purposes, the sharability of your content should be consciously crafted. Going viral because you made a hilariously awful video is still going to get you exposure, but it isn’t quite what we’re going for. A trending blog is critical to gather audience attention. Let’s aim a bit higher!
2. Set Up Your Social Media Presence
You need to establish yourself on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Pinterest, etc. Wherever your content can be spread most effectively. Twitter is a must-have no matter what. Get these accounts set up before you attempt any viral campaign, and start building some followers. You don’t need a huge following, just something to get things kickstarted when it comes time to share.
3. Encourage Sharing
It may feel weird to ask for people to like or share your stuff, but if you don’t remind them to do it, they’ll probably forget to do it. Even a simple statement like: “pass it along to your friends” is going to help. You can get more in-depth with this tactic by creating fun hashtags that combine with the ideas of your app, or encouraging user-created content that follows the pattern you set. You need to make news and create a buzz for your product. Interact with media and top technology bloggers and app review sites. View more how to get powerful media coverage for your #startup.
4. Post on Aggregators
There are dozens and dozens of active link-sharing websites out there. Some are overseen by editors, and you’ll have to go through them to feature your stuff, and others are a free for all. Post your stuff to these sites. Digg, Fark, Reddit, Techmeme, BuzzFeed, Boing Boing…the list goes on and on. These places are incredibly valuable for reaching a wide audience quickly. Pick up traction on these sites, and your content is sure to spread through other networks without you even knowing about it.
5. Convert Interest into Downloads
When people see the viral content, they need to know where it came from, where to learn more, where to download the app, etc. Just point them to your app store page, or your website if you prefer. If your app is free, people should naturally be curious enough to give it a try. This is why Free and freemium is highly recommended for apps these days. If the app isn’t free to download, it is a lot harder to convert people. If you insist on using a paid app system consider running a promotion simultaneous to the viral sharing, so that people feel a bit of urgency while they are curious. This also applies to in-app purchase and other monetization strategies, if you want to capitalize on the increased interest.
6. Encourage more Sharing from Inside the App
Hook the app up to social networks, provide sharing promo-codes, encourage people to invite their friends. This will really help encourage continued growth after your viral content has brought in a flood of users.
7. Be Persistent
Virality isn’t Guaranteed. It might not work out on your first try, but the key to success is to keep trying. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” as Wayne Gretzky said, and though he was talking about Hockey, the sentiment clearly applies. If you don’t keep trying, your chances of success are zero, so keep at it and keep learning how to improve. You only need to get it right once!