What's the Big Idea?
What makes someone want to share something?
Galloway's answer: create something extraordinary. Perhaps that's easier said than done, but beyond making something merely worth sharing, the million dollar question that every marketer wants to know the answer to is this:
What makes something go viral?
Strictly defined, a piece of viral content may be an image, video or advertisement that is circulated rapidly on the Internet. In other words, it spreads like a virus. If you have created a piece of viral content, Galloway says the best strategy is to let everything happen organically and not get in the way of it. After all, things that go viral tend to be raw and unproduced, and certainly are not planned.
Galloway knows that all too well. That was the case with an email he wrote to a business school student who was late to his class at NYU Stern School of Business, an email that has since been viewed over 11 million times.
See the full exchange below and watch Scott Galloway describe what happened here:
What's the Significance?
Scott Galloway identifies the keys to a piece of content going viral:
Anything that legal approves cannot go viral. Why? The value proposition of viral content is voyeurism. You are allowing people to see something they are not ordinarily allowed to see, such as an email that a professor sent to a student upbraiding him.
A dog on a skateboard is funny. And if Jimmy Kimmel finds something funny, he may even tweet about it, like this Double Rainbow video which quickly became a Youtube sensation.
H + B = V
Throw a baby into the mix (No, please don't literally "throw" your baby, even though a video of that, sadly, would go viral), and you're minting viral gold.
In other words: Humor + baby = viral.
(Marketers have certainly picked up on this trend. Think E-Trade's baby spokesman; Rocksmith's Guitar Baby; Evian Water's Roller Babies. The list is endless. And don't forget about baby-faced Justin Bieber, who is a viral walking.)
Controversy and Debate
People like content that is controversial, "something that taps into some sort of social commentary right now," says Galloway. In the case of his email exchange with a student, "we have two very credible, emotional arguments that came kind of full force together in a forum of an authentic email."
Not only was the email authentic, it was highly topical, if not downright controversial: Galloway touched on the issue of "how expectant GEN Y has become, and how incredibly expensive education has become, and the fact that a lot of people think that we in education are sitting in ivory towers and not delivering the value we should."
Read the exchange here:
|Subject: Brand Strategy Feedback
I would like to discuss a matter with you that bothered me. Yesterday evening I entered your 6pm Brand Strategy class approximately 1 hour late. As I entered the room, you quickly dismissed me, saying that I would need to leave and come back to the next class. After speaking with several students who are taking your class, they explained that you have a policy stating that students who arrive more than 15 minutes late will not be admitted to class. As of yesterday evening, I was interested in three different Monday night classes that all occurred simultaneously. In order to decide which class to select, my plan for the evening was to sample all three and see which one I like most. Since I had never taken your class, I was unaware of your class policy. I was disappointed that you dismissed me from class considering (1) there is no way I could have been aware of your policy and (2) considering that it was the first day of evening classes and I arrived 1 hour late (not a few minutes), it was more probable that my tardiness was due to my desire to sample different classes rather than sheer complacency. I have already registered for another class but I just wanted to be open and provide my opinion on the matter.
To which Professor Galloway responded:
Thanks for the feedback. I, too, would like to offer some feedback.
Just so I've got this straight...you started in one class, left 15-20 minutes into it (stood up, walked out mid-lecture), went to another class (walked in 20 minutes late), left that class (again, presumably, in the middle of the lecture), and then came to my class. At that point (walking in an hour late) I asked you to come to the next class which "bothered" you.
Again, thanks for the feedback.
Follow Daniel Honan on Twitter @DanielHonan