Winning the Internet

10 Secret Ways To Make Your Stuff Maybe Go Viral If You Are Really Lucky

After a great run, the Winning the Internet blog has been retired. However, you can still keep in touch with New Media Mentors here.

As we gear up for Netroots Nation 2013, we’re taking a closer look at some of the convention’s hottest training sessions. We’re interviewing the trainers and taking you inside some of online activism’s most popular and elusive topics.

Today we’re interviewing Adam Mordecai, who’ll be leading 10 Secret Ways To Make Your Stuff Maybe Go Viral If You Are Really Lucky.

NN13 Training Session

10 Secret Ways To Make Your Stuff Maybe Go Viral If You Are Really Lucky
You can’t make everything go viral. We both know that. You’re boss doesn’t though. Let the hacks from Upworthy teach you how to win on the social web, thereby growing traffic on your own site and making your bosses understand that what you do matters, and that while you aren’t a magician, you got the skills to pay the bills.


Q: Tell us about yourself.

A: We know some stuff about how to make things go viral. We got a million people to watch a senate bank committee hearing. We got almost 4 million people to watch a spoken word animated short video about bullying, and we got almost 2 million people to watch a 6 minute bar graph video about income inequality. And, frankly, we’re not that amazing at it, we just constantly test everything. We are just less bad at it than you.

Q: In your opinion, is it possible to intentionally make something go viral, or is it usually a fluke occurrence?

A: It is only possible to make something go viral if it’s actually good enough to actually go viral, AND you get incredibly lucky. If It sucks, you will not make it really viral, no matter how hard you try. (Unless it’s so bad bad that it’s awfulness is what makes it viral. ) We can increase the speed and likelihood of something truly wonderful to go viral, but we are still at the mercy of the timing and luck gods and content quality. There are definitely things that can help, but honestly, only .3% of our stuff breaks that million view threshold.

Q: What are the two most important things to keep in mind when developing (hopefully viral) content for the social web?

A: 1) It better be really good and set the right mood. If you can keep people angry enough to fight, but entertained enough to laugh a little, you’ll have a better chance. Don’t over sexualize, don’t be shrill, connect with a wide audience. Don’t leave them depressed without making an ask for action they can realistically take, or they’ll be too bummed to share.

2) It better be framed to reach way beyond your base. Anyone can make their own audience share and like something. It’s a whole other ball game to get your friends’ friends, and your friends’ friends’ friends to do the same. If you can get your friends’ Moms to share, you’ve hit pay dirt. We track that generational traffic, because if we see that Frank shared with Bob who shared with Maria who shared with Janet who shared with Lisa, then we know that it’s got way more potential than if just our core audience shares it.

Q: Why should folks attend your session at Netroots Nation?

A: Only come if you want to learn all our secrets, and get way more traffic for your organization. We promise, we don’t bite, and we’ll give you practical solutions that you can take back to even the smallest organizations, with no budgets. We’re cool like that.


To attend this training, or one of the 39 others at Netroots Nation 2013 in San Jose, register now.

About Melissa Foley

Melissa is the Director of Training and Mentoring for Netroots Foundation and New Media Mentors. She aims to use her MBA + nonprofit background to teach organizations to use new media tools strategically.

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