Viral Thinking: A Practical Framework for Viral Marketing

Inspired by David Kelly’s work on design thinking I’ve been thinking about a practical framework for creating social media and viral marketing campaigns.

I think one of the most important steps in this process is the “Research” phase. When I started thinking about this process, I used a metaphor from genetic engineering: If I wanted to construct the most infectious biological virus possible, I would start with the most contagious existing pathogens and work off of them. You might also study the spread of epidemics to identify the most important vectors. So in Viral Thinking, I’m suggesting that you model your campaigns off of those campaigns, ideas and memes that are relevant to your goals and have proven themselves to be viral.

Here’s my first attempt at it, I’d publishing this as a rough draft to get as much feedback as possible.

  1. Define
    1. What are the goals of your campaign
    2. Who is your target audience
  2. Research
    1. Identify relevant successful memes
    2. Identify relevant influential vectors and individuals
    3. Identify “information gaps” in your target audience
  3. Brainstorm
    1. Brainstorm many possible campaigns
    2. Brainstorm many possible seeding tactics
  4. Check
    1. Check your campaign ideas for “viral ingredients
      1. Novelty
      2. Simplicity
      3. Social Proof
      4. Utility
      5. Communal Recreation
      6. Incentive
  5. Build
    1. Build out several of the best campaigns
    2. Test these campaigns with a small portion of your target
      1. Refactor them as necessary to maximize the “that’s awesome” responses
  6. Seed
    1. Launch your campaign via as many seeding tactics as relevant
  7. Monitor
    1. Measure campaign analytics against your goals
    2. Monitor your target audience’s reaction to your campaign
    3. Refactor the campaign to respond to feedback where necessary
  8. Learn
    1. Identify lessons learned from each campaign
    2. Implement lessons learned in each successive campaign

Again, I’m posting this to get your thoughts on this process, especially how it could be better and more concrete and practical.