How to go Viral? (Especially if you have Writers Block)

How to write a post that goes viral? Especially when we have writers block. I don’t actually know the answer to the writer’s block part, but thought I would throw that in the title as it sounded good and may create some interest #virality. That being said we never know, as I am sure many seasoned writer’s and creators would testify their best work is put down after times of block.

Deep down most of us want our work or content to go viral. Experience that rare feeling of having thousands and thousands of people reading our work, thoughts and opinions.  Especially when it comes from a place of passion. Have our notifications(if we have them set) spiral out of control forcing our device into shutdown! Sounds like some serious fun!

The elusiveness of creating a viral post lead me to reflect back, yet again into Ryan’s(feel like I’m on a first name basis with him) latest book Growth Hacker Marketing. Clarifying virality(a made up tech word as spell check alerts me), viral loop and how the modern-day and our use of ‘hacking’ can eradicate the guess-work as touched on here Growth Hacker Marketing: Definition and Thoughts.

While I was driving to a haircut from work, this is what I came up with, it was easy! To write a post that goes viral, write a post about going viral, therefore wouldn’t everybody want to read this!?

With the right titles tags and categories in place it will get the traction and cohesion rate. With 500 million bloggers(at least) this post would be widely researched. Bingo, done! Wishful thinking. EDIT: I’ll let you know how we go with that. 😉

From here we will break down ‘virality’ and ‘viral loop’, along with some other thoughts along the way.

Andrew Chen puts it in ‘simple’ terms above. API stands for ‘Application Programming Interface’ a snap shot of the definition is as follows:

In computer programming, an application programming interface (API) is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. An API expresses a software component in terms of its operations, inputs, outputs, and underlying types. An API defines functionalities that are independent of their respective implementations, which allows definitions and implementations to vary without compromising each other. A good API makes it easier to develop a program by providing all the building blocks. A programmer then puts the blocks together.

We know that:


‘Growth’ and ‘Sustainable’ being mentioned in the same paragraph, let alone sitting right next to each other in the same sentence makes us stand up. If it doesn’t, it should, and it would be wise to know how we can make this happen. It is certainly what every start-up thirsts for and most individuals and established organisations too. Jonah gives us all hope and I would say excitement.

TURN 1 INTO 2 AND 2 INTO 4— GOING VIRAL Virality isn’t luck. It’s not magic. And it’s not random. There’s a science behind why people talk and share. A recipe. A formula, even. —JONAH BERGER

I love this response from Growth Hackers when they are confronted with a question that goes something like this,  “Why isn’t my content going viral?”

The growth hacker has a response: Well, why should customers do that? Have you actually made it easy for them to spread your product? Is the product even worth talking about?

The crux of going viral is for our content to provoke the desire for people to share. It sounds simple however is more misunderstood than not, otherwise everyone would be doing it. If we are not doing this at the forefront then we will be challenged from the outset. The hacker’s job is to implement tools, and campaigns to enable all of this to happen. As detailed below, It’s all about the ‘K factor’. If our K factor is greater than one then our content has gone viral. This is what we are after.

Virality at its core is asking someone to spend their social capital recommending or linking or posting about you for free. But virality is not an accident. It is engineered. And it goes without saying why viral spread is critical to the growth hacker approach. Ideally, growth hackers look for a viral coefficient (or “K factor”) greater than one. The term “K factor” is typically used in medicine to describe the contagion of disease. In the start-up world, the viral coefficient measures the number of new users that each existing user is able to convert. If each new user is bringing in, on average, more than one user, then the K factor is greater than one and your start-up is going viral. A product or business or piece of content will go viral only if it provokes a desire in people to spread it. On top of that, a growth hacker must facilitate and encourage its spread by adding tools and campaigns that enable virality. All of which is to say a simple truth that we try to deny too often: if you want to go viral , virality must be baked into your product.

Holiday, Ryan (2013-09-05). Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising

Andrew Chen simplifies the viral loop as: “The steps a user goes through between entering the site to inviting the next set of new users”. He breaks this down into 4 parts.

  1. What’s your viral media?
  2. What’s your funnel design?
  3. What’s the viral hook in your product?
  4. What are the on ramps to your viral loops?

The full article can be read here What’s your viral loop? Understanding the engine of adoption. I’d suggest if you have a genuine interest in this field to follow Andrew at

More viral loopness:

viral loop (n.)—A viral loop is the process by which a person goes from seeing your product or service to using it and sharing it with others. For example, let’s say your friend gets an e-mail from his favorite product asking him to join a contest. He joins and shares it on Twitter because the product offers him another entry if he does. You see your friend’s tweet and click on it, entering the contest as well and sharing it with even more people. This is how viral loops become self-contained, self-fueling mechanisms of growth. Facebook newsfeeds and embeddable YouTube videos are all great examples of viral loops. virality (and viral coefficient) (n.)— Virality is the person-to-person spread of a product or an idea. Because growth hacking is about scalability —ideally you want your marketing efforts to bring in users, which then bring in more users— it often depends on viral techniques for growth.

Holiday, Ryan (2013-09-05). Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising

At this point I thought it be appropriate to embed You Tube’s top ten most viral videos of all time. Ironically the Gangnam style is at No.1 one(I had put my featured image in before this). What can we learn from these and what questions do we ask ourselves, how these pieces get the views? (If nothing else, have a laugh at looking at this compilation of videos that you have more than likely seen before)

One question that comes to mind when looking at these for me is:

How intentional were the creators of the content to actually go viral? It is fair to say that much content is not intentional. When looking at virality from a business perspective it is far different. Perhaps the lesson to be taken from this is not always to be so deliberate, it may nudge us a little closer to going viral. In the same breathe science is increasingly replacing the guess-work.

What we do have now is hacking where we can use tools, campaigns, ads and so on that can assist our content to create a loop. There are many tactics that can be engaged, using bit torrents, strategically place blurbs leading to main content pages, offering payment to early adopters, offering free space to storage driven business, even placing share options selectively. This all assists in collecting the crucial data to continue to create the loop.

We can’t expect to tag our content even if it has that ‘wow’ factor, pop it online and have it go viral. The internet is a big world with 2 point something billion people everyday using the web and this is growing. Content will get lost. Experimental Thought: It would be cool to dig up the best of the least viewed content from around the world and implement today’s hacking methods and see what traction we could get!

Can we hack our way to virality? The common answer is yes. With some fundamentals being ticked off along the way.

Many bloggers, artists and creators do not weave their craft to necessarily ‘go viral’. Although reward for their work would be rightfully satisfying, people have passions and many other reasons to do what they do. Some of the best content we read and have seen over time is far and away from going viral. I’m sure most would testify. On a personal note, I like seeing this and the place where it comes from.

As a start-up and or an established organisation, views, sign-ups, cohesion rate, virality and all those other key points is where the chase is at! Sustainable growth. New tools, more innovative concepts, smarter people continually hit our ‘streets’ everyday contributing to enabling this quest. 

Estella quotes virality from a visionary perspective:



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