viralWhen you hear of something going viral, your first thought isn’t to get closer and check it out – it’s to hunker down, hide in your house and pray you don’t get infected. In the business world going viral is a much sought after effect of a company being spread across the Internet by what used to be called “Word-of-Mouth” advertising.

Jonah Berger, Associate Professor of Marketing at Wharton University of Pennsylvania, wrote a book called “Contagions: Why Things Catch On”. In his book he gives some great ideas on how to help your company go viral and be contagious.

One of the things he discusses is Social Currency: what we say affects how other people see us and by making them feel special it will make them want to talk and share with others. Call them by their first name or refer to them as a member, make them feel like an insider by giving them accolades.

A recent example of Social Currency is when LinkedIn sent out a notice to a specific number of members congratulating them because they were high traffic customers. Their hopes were to make these members feel special that they are so popular and, as a result, will tell friends and share the praises. Consequently in the process LinkedIn is brought into the conversation.

Another tactic is to come up with a trigger. A trigger is something in the environment or our daily lives such as a day of the week, a smell, an animal, etc., that people can associate to your business to remind them of you each and every time they see it or smell it. A great example of this is the Geico commercial with the camel asking if anyone knows what day it is –  it’s hump day! As a result of this successful campaign, Geico gets spikes of people researching their company on Wednesdays because of the “trigger” association.