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Every day a business, video or person will go viral on the web and in the process earning thousands for the creator.

In this article, we are going to teach you how you can make your small business harness the power of virality and get more attention from your ideal customers.

Last Updated 29/7/16: Scroll down to the bottom of the page to check out a live viral case study that is happening right now!

What Is Viral Social Media And Can It Work For My Small Business?

Only a few months ago an American housewife was unknowingly about to change her life forever. She recorded what was the most watched Facebook video ever and the world had a new star in a matter of days.

The video has now been called ‘Chewbacca Mom’ and is a video where a woman recorded herself opening a Star Wars Chewbacca mask toy and due to how funny it was this went viral.

The woman is called Candice Payne and the video which has been watched over 150 Million times is below:

The kick back of this was that since the video she has received of $450,000 worth of goods and gifts but that is not why the video is so important.

This seemingly simple video made for fun caused the masks to be sold out almost immediately in all stores, it gave publicity for Disney,  the store where she purchased the mask and of course Facebook Live video got a huge boost. This viral video caused a huge impact for a lot of businesses.

From Disney to the small independent toy shops that stocked the mask, everyone benefited and Candice has since become a celebrity.

However,  the video did not go viral because Candice had a huge budget (she had zero budget) or that she was a big brand. The video went viral due to the psychology of why people share content.

The good news is that you can also harness this same power of virality once you know what you are doing and in this article, we will teach you:

  • Exactly why people use the major social media platforms
  • The exact steps you need to take to find content that is already working in your industry
  • The proven framework to create content that goes viral
  • The difference between virality and valuable virality
  • The 11 letter campaign that generated over 20 Million pounds.
  • And much more….

Ready? Let’s do this:

Why You Need To Understand That The Phone Is The New TV

man hand phone

If you stop what you are doing right now and look around you will see people on their smartphones.

People are walking around looking at them, people are eating lunch and using them at the same time and some idiots are driving whilst using them.

Astonishingly there are 32 million smartphones purchased in the UK every year and 53% of smartphone users check their phone’s within 5 minutes of waking!

The phone is where the attention is right now and as a small business owner you can capitalise on the growing number of people using smartphones because you need to get in front of eyeballs.

And those eyeballs are on phone screens.

The smartphone is the new TV and people are addicted to it.

The stats say it all:

Instagram:  300 Million Daily Users

Facebook: 1 Billion people Log Onto Facebook Daily

YouTube: 4 Billion Video Views Each Day And The Second Largest/ Most Used Internet Search Engine

Twitter :  100 Million Daily Users

LinkedIn : 433 Million Users

and the best part is that you can access all of the people on these platforms for free!

Let me teach you how next.

Understanding Your Two Weapons: Content and Context

Ok, so you get it. Everyone has a phone and everyone is on social media.

But how are you going to find them? The answer is of course content.

Without content, you are going to fail miserably in grabbing the attention of your customers so you need to start creating content for your business.

However at the same time. you also need to understand the various platforms and if you are better on one platform or another and then make your move.

Why People Go To Facebook

Let’s face it. With over a billion users most people are now on Facebook and things tend to go viral on that platform first so when it comes to Facebook traffic, virality works!

However before you start to make any viral content for that platform you need to understand why people are on Facebook in the first place.

For most people, Facebook is about personal connection. It is a place to catch up with their friends or to have content ‘find them’ based on the algorithm used by Facebook.

People are not on there to ‘sell’ ‘sell’ ‘sell’. Sure, they might have a business page they do that on, however, the people, actually using Facebook are doing so to ‘connect’ with other humans.

In that process of connection,  your business can actually interrupt their down time and try and get them to connect with you.  To do that will require a specific type of content (which we will look at later in the article)

Why People Use LinkedIN

People use LinkedIN because it promotes their careers and they can sell their businesses and services.

Simple enough. However, you can use LinkedIN to position yourself as an expert in your field and drive people to view your profile.

In essence, LinkedIN is all about money because it is the ‘Wall Street’ of social media. No one is using LinkedIN to make new friends or to keep up with sports news.

So your content on LinkedIN needs to help people achieve their goals with your service.

What Is Twitter All About

Twitter is noisy. It is a party which is playing really loud music and to get noticed you have to either have be great at dancing or just speak in the ear of the person you want to engage with.

It is a public conversation tool and it can be hard work, yet it can be very rewarding and make a huge difference to your business if you get it right.

Who Uses Instagram

You may have heard of Instagram and you probably really like it and  use it.

Why? Because it is all about the eyes and as people we love using our eyes to learn more about the world.

It is all about images/ videos and tags, this is simply amazing for so many product based businesses because you have attention and without attention, you cannot sell.

If you have a product then you need to be on Instagram!

Why Bother With YouTube

The last on our list for your business is YouTube.

According to Alexa, YouTube is the second largest website in the world:



It is also the second largest search engine and is a place you can have your own TV channel.

Think about this for a second, you can actually record yourself on your phone and upload your video onto YouTube with a link back to your website.

This is amazing for people and businesses.

However, you need to understand that people come to YouTube to learn or to be entertained. It has the same principles of TV yet it also works as a search tool.

If you are in the business of selling mobile phones then how cool would it be for your YouTube channel to teach people how to use hidden features on their phones.

Ok so those are just the core social media channels and yes I know there are more but you will still be able to apply the same approach to whatever channel you work on once you understand that platform.

So how are we going to use social media to increase sales?

Create Content That Is Worth Reading Or Watching

My time is precious and I do literally mean ‘by the minute’. I run my own business, so if you waste my time I am totally unforgiving.

So you need to be in the business of creating great content that people will like, read and then share to their friends.

So what type of content should you create?

Well, a great deal of this depends on your business and what content works best and here is how to find that out.

How To Find Out What Content Works Best For Your Business

First out, head over to Buzzsumo and log in.

Next type into the search bar your business, in this example we  use a DIY business.


You will then get a list of content that has been shared online.

The next step is to go  to the ‘sort by box’ and then start to filter the results based on the sharing platform. This way you will be able to see what works best for each platform for your industry.

If we switch to LinkedIN we see that a YouTube video did very well on the network.


In fact, it was shared nearly twice as much as the Buzzfeed article on DIY tips.

Now you might be wondering why this was shared more times on LinkedIN? It has everything to do with the type of content it is:

The DIY video was a 30-second long trailer for the DIY SOS programme where the show goes to a person in need and helps them with a re build of their home. Often these people will have a really challenging situation in their life.

This video was slightly different:


This trailer was for their special ‘Homes for Veterans’ show which was a one-off where they built an entire street for armed forces veterans.

So why was this shared so many times on LinkedIN?

It has everything to do with social currency and we will cover this in detail shortly.

However, before we are finished here you need to go back and look at what kind of posts are getting traction online for your industry.



As we can see from the Buzzsumo information there are a lot of posts that are based on utility. In essence, these are practical things that people can do and for any DIY store the advice  is simple, create content that helps people to add value to their home and make it more attractive.

This same discovery process will make it far easier for you to create content for your audience that THEY want and will share.

Now, there is a ninja trick to make life easier and it is all about leveraging the platform.

How To Create Viral Content That Is Valuable

Take a look at the video below, you probably remember it:

The video was for Evian Water and it was one of the most viral videos ever seen.


89 Million people viewed it on YouTube alone. However the same year it came out the company lost market share and there was a 25 percent loss in sales. This was discussed by one of the world’s best Virality experts Dr Jonah Berger.

In his book titled Contagious, he talks about this advert and the fact that whilst it was great and everyone watched it, people did not connect the dancing babies with drinking Evian Water.

This is what is called Valuable Virality.

As a small business, you will need to make sure you get as much bang for your buck so you need to make sure that anything you do has to be in the context of your business.

According to Jonah Berger one of the best ways to do this is to intertwine your brand with the story  and he uses the example of Panda foods as a better method.

Panda food is a cheese company and in the videos someone basically says ‘no’ to having the Panda cheese, at which point a giant Panda comes out and smashes things up, it is quite funny so check it out below:

Now I am certain that anyone thinking of cheese would have remembered the funny videos and Panda cheese but when I think of bottled water I do not think of dancing babies and Evian.

For the small business owner looking to leverage social media for their use, this is a key factor and Jonah Berger breaks it down in for you in his STEPPS System which teaches you how to create viral content.

Below are the six core reasons people share content and examples of people using them including the 11 letter campaign that made over £20 Million:

Social Currency:

If we look at the LinkedIN DIY SOS video that did really well on that platform we have to go and look at social currency.

People like to share remarkable things and without a doubt building an entire street for wounded veterans is remarkable, so why would people like to share remarkable things? Well according to studies it is because people like to be seen as remarkable.

It then makes sense that in the world of LinkedIN, creating remarkable content will be a great idea because who in business does not want to be seen to be remarkable.

So what actually makes for ‘remarkable content’? Well, something that is unusual, extraordinary, or worthy of notice or attention.

My basic rule is this… is it worthy of attention.


People talk about what is on top of their mind.  When I was growing up one of the best adverts on TV was the Crunchie advert. The Crunchie was a chocolate bar and in the advert, they coined the term ‘ Get That Friday Feeling’ and added the strapline ‘Thank Crunchie It’s Friday’.

Guess what chocolate bar I thought of every Friday? Yep, you guessed it.

Take a look at their advert than ran on TV:

There are also other triggers that exist in the world and you can certainly craft a trigger into your business content so that when a person thinks of one thing they automatically think of your product or service.

Could the environment harness a trigger for your product? Or perhaps you can link  your product or service to a habit?

This takes time and effort but you can see how beneficial it could be.


Jonah Berger says ‘when we care we share’ and it is clear people share things that make them angry or excited.

You need to think about creating content that is high and not low arousal.

Think of it like this:

Positive: Awe,  excitement, amusement (think of Chewbacca Mom)

Negative: Anger, Anxiety

If you keep to these factors you will be doing well. An example I actually used on my self defence blog showed this in full action:


The above post featured a few key factors, firstly a headline that gets clicks. ‘Warning, stop teaching this self-defence technique’ was an irresistible line that was always going to get clicks because people really want to know what the technique is and if they are teaching it.

The second aspect was that those people teaching this technique would be so filled with anger they would share the post.

It worked because it had over 350  Facebook shares and over 3,000 reads.

Chewbacca Mom, on the other hand, took a Character we all love ‘Chewbacca’ and made people laugh and smile, in many ways, she has caused a trigger for herself because whenever we now think of Chewbacca we will think of Candice Payne, but remember she did this with zero training!

You need to be focused on delivery of something that invokes strong emotion.


This part is fairly simple if your product or service is visible then it can ‘catch on’.

If we start to think about this we see it all the time. The clothing brand French Connection had great success with their FCUK campaign.

On the surface, they are Called French Connection UK however, when advertiser Trevor Beatie was brought in to create a new campaign for the company he noticed that the initials looked very similar to the swear word and so the ‘FCUK Fashion’ was born.



It took just 11 words on a  T-shirt that cost £20 to buy went on to sell over a million units, and yes I owned several.

This was of course, all before the days of Facebook, so imagine how viral this would be now!!!

Perhaps you too can build a visible part of your product or service that helps to spread the word. T-Shirts, Carrier bags are just a few examples.  Hotmail grew because in every email someone sent there was a link inside telling people they could get a private and free email from Hotmail.

Be public and you will soon find that your small business can grow in the minds of a lot of people quickly.

Practical Value:

The concept behind ‘news that you can use’ is not new, but amazingly so few people invest time and effort into creating any.

Buzzfeed Food is the master of this:


They have over 22 Million likes on Facebook  and 690, 000 subscribers on YouTube.

Yet what they are simply doing is teaching people how to make meals.

This is pretty simple, yet the above video had over half a million views alone.

By creating content for your business that is useful more people will share it. If you are a plumber, perhaps you can show someone how to unblock a sink in 60 seconds, or perhaps you are a car dealership and you create a video that teaches people how to prepare their car to get the best price in part exchange (this could be huge as no car dealer is doing this because it would cost them more money on each car).

You can soon think of ideas


The last part of Jonah Bergers STEPPS formula is Stories.

As human beings, we are hard-wired to tell stories. This is how we passed information to others and people such as Sir Winston Churchill have used stories to inspire others.

If you think of your own life, imagine driving to work and getting cut up in the traffic by a bad driver and you nearly crash. After shouting and swearing in your car you tell person after person in the office about your ‘stroke with death’ due to a bad driver.

You go home and tell your partner and by the end of the day about 15 people have been told your tale of near death danger.

That was just one incident in your life that shows how people love to tell stories. We have all been there, the interview disaster or the bad boss we like to tell people about every chance the subject of work comes up.

People even create stories in their reviews, take trip advisor for example:



Even when for a simple 5-star review people go to the trouble of writing stories, in this case, a tale of how the reviewer even counted how many entertainers there were.

Another great example of stories being used to promote services is this video for an insurance company:

It is clear that if you can tell a great story that embraces your product you can have tremendous viral success.

Thirsty for more information about virality?

I urge you to buy the book by you can get some fantastic resources at Jonah Bergers website to help you create virality. However, check out the video from Jonah Berger himself that goes into detail on all the aspects above:


If you have got this far into the article then you know that the power of harnessing virality has nothing to do with big budgets but strategy.

The most viral videos and posts go viral because of the 6 reasons we looked at in STEPPS.

Sure, crafting virality takes time and effort. If you rush it, things can go badly for you.

I have created articles that have had over 50,000 shares on social media and I know that I will ‘crack’ it one day and take my content to mega-viral levels but it will take time.

Now what about you?

Are you going to write another bland or boring blog post next or are you going to take some time and effort and create something that really generates some traction.

Let me know how you go on.

Andrew Holland


Update: Live Viral Case Study


Ok, this is an update for the original post where I will be regularly adding to the article with my viral work.

The latest is currently live for a client of mine which is World Of Martial Arts TV.  The goal was to create a Facebook campaign for the company that would get them more exposure. We Published the video on 26th July 2016 and this has a total of 17,872 video views, 197 Likes and 251 shares in less than 24 hours.

Due the initial success of the campaign, we have put some ad spend behind it but the costs at time of writing are just £3.82 with a cost per click of just £00.02.

Will this video be huge’? To be honest we don’t know. However, the video contains elements of social currency so I am hopeful.

Update 28/7/2016


Currently, the video virality is at 37,190: The total ad spend is £15.20 19 comments, 355 shares

Last Updated 29/7/2016: 

viral traffic


The latest update I have is the best.

So far we  have been published 3 days now and have reached 200,000 people with 65,000 video views and 1,000 likes.

We will keep this article updated with results.




posted July 25, 2016

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