Cracking the Viral Code

Ask any purveyor of content and they will tell you that there is no formula for “going viral.” Scott Galloway, a Clinical Professor of Marketing at NYU Stern School of Business and the founder of the L2 Think Tank, has been studying the viral phenomenon for years.


In the latest installment of Big Think’s Edge, Galloway shares his insights for making content that creates conversations.

Traditional Media vs. New Media

While there are no hard rules, it’s safe to rely on the principle of timing. Stories spread the fastest when they’re tapping into the zeitgeist. Social commentary on the big news stories of the day reliably travel far, according to Galloway. The content must provide surprising insights. He explains: “Where it’s a bit different than what traditional media tends to find popular, something that is raw, authentic, and not produced.”

Tap into Social Controversy

The web is full of conversations—make sure that your content brings something interesting to the discussion. Galloway shares a personal example: an email exchange with a student who didn’t agree with his late policy that led to the student being kicked out of class for not showing up on time. The exchange went viral after Galloway shared it with his class, as an indelible reminder of his late policy. This tapped into the larger discussion of the rising price of education. As he explains in the video below, Galloway added to an important discussion.

There is No Code

Ultimately, there is no code. But by understanding what has gone viral through the case studies Galloway presents in the latest installment of Big Think’s Edge, you can start to develop your sense for tapping into the conversations the world wants.

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