In their research paper ‘What makes online content viral?’, Jonah Berger and Katherine Milkman show how surprise is one of the most important requirements of content, after practical value and interest. Practical value and interest are usually addressed at the product innovation and development stage, but surprise can be effectively used later on, as well.
Another study by the CEO of NeuroBusiness, Srini Pillay M.D., showed that we can, in fact, predict which messages will go viral and which messages won’t. Ideas that spread out have a distinct, recognizable characteristic that lies, surprisingly, in the brain of the sender. Messages that spread trigger two key areas in the sender’s brain. The first of these registers rewards, the value that the sender places on the message. The second area deals with the ability to see things from the message receiver’s point of view.
When we, as brand managers, create our message, it is these two factors that help determine whether the message will go viral or not. The more you value an idea, and the more accurately you can predict how others will perceive the message, the more successful you will be at spreading it.
Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Thomas Gad, excerpted from his book Customer Experience Branding, with permission from Kogan Page publishing.
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