Have you ever wondered why a photo of a cat or video of a dancing baby goes viral on the internet for no apparent reason? You may be at work, on Facebook, or talking with a friend when someone drops the line, “Hey, you gotta see this video.” Next thing you know, you and everyone you know are stopped dead in their tracks to watch its magnificent glory, only to leave you moments later wondering what just happened.
That kind of video is everywhere. No matter how hard you try, you can’t escape it. If you are like me, you may assume that these videos blow up by accident. That there is no magic formula for producing “viral” content.
Brian Swichkow, Adweek’s “reddit marketing expert,” thinks otherwise.
Brian built his business, Ghost Influence, an online community driving 7 million pageviews a day on Reddit, by cracking the formula behind how viral happens. His community, composed of people like you and me, is able to go into any market in any niche and make content go “viral.” According to Scott Stratten, the president of Un-Marketing, a “viral” moment happens when you achieve a “greater reach than your own. Viral isn’t a number, viral is simply going farther than you can reach.”
Some of his past wins include: making a girl on Tinder world-famous by generating 25 million impressions to her profile picture in 72 hours, creating an online app where users register to receive the most “absurd email to give in a bar”, generating 11,000 pageviews and 564 signups in the first 30 minutes, and building his ex-fiancé’s dog a YouTube channel with 6,800 subscribers and 3.8M views.
I caught up with Brian on this week’s podcast episode here, where he shares all of the details on how viral happens:
Brian’s journey started in 2013 when he decided to run eerily targeted facebook ads to prank his roommate… for three weeks. Every few days his roommate would log in and see an ad revealing intimate details that only someone like a girlfriend or his roommate would know. After his roommate was understandable super freaked out, Brian ran one last ad saying, “Ever feel like your roommate is creating Facebook ads targeted to a niche of just you?”
Notably one of the best pranks ever. After sharing the story with people, Brian decided to write this article as his first blog post to document the whole thing and posted it to Reddit. Seventy-two hours later it had garnered 450,000 views.
Not only was it a great story but it was also great content. Brian carefully dissected piece by piece how he did it so, if you are a marketer, like me, you could learn about Facebook ads from reading what he did, while being super entertained.
When I asked Brian his secret, he shared, “the key is to execute something unnecessarily well. You have to be committed to the joke or whatever you are doing. When I launched my ex-fiance’s dog’s YouTube channel, I never broke character once. Every time someone would comment I would respond only as the dog. When you do this, people pay attention and that is what makes you stand out.”
Since launching the facebook prank article Brian has become obsessed with learning how Reddit works and how viral happens. He has found that “the key is to better understand what communities deem to be of value and how you can be the one to create or deliver that to them. It’s a bit like language immersion. By breaking down the structure of the platform and the psychology of the message in an accessible manner you will quickly become fluent.”
Want Brian’s formula for making viral happen? Here’s how:
Step 1: Curate or Create Valuable Content
Reddit is a community platform where people follow topics that anyone can relate to. Unlike brand platforms like Facebook or Twitter, where someone subscribes to see all of your content, on Reddit if you don’t add relevant value to the conversation happening in the community (aka subreddit) you won’t get any traction.
Step 2: Speak The Native Language
Reddit is composed of over 9,000 communities (called ‘subreddits’) with each subreddit having its own dialect inside the community. Think about talking to people on the East coast versus the South. If you don’t say words like “soda or pop” you will seem like an outsider and create a barrier.
Step 3: Give Before You Receive
Think about Reddit like a relationship. You need to nurture it and let it grow before you ask for favor after favor. On Reddit before you share a post, make sure you are commenting, sharing your opinion, and adding value to the community before expecting something back in return.
Step 4: Don’t Do A Hit & Run
The most traction on Reddit comes from engaging in the comments and discussion happening after you post. It would be a tragedy to get the entire formula right, post in the right subreddit with the right language and then not engage with the people talking about it. You will leave thousands of potential views and traction on the table.
Step 5: Enjoy Your Rewards
Collect the traffic rewards from following the above framework that you can use over and over again to blow up content time and again.
If you want to win a free 1 hour consulting session with Brian ($1000 value) listen to the podcast for details. Then enter to win here. Brian has made this offer exclusively to Unconventional Life readers and listeners.