This post has been inspired by an article I recently came across here.
It can be hard spreading the good word about your product when just starting out. This means you want to be tactical and take every opportunity you can to share your product or service with the world.
Going "viral" has become popularized with the modern internet and social media allowing for the distribution of content and media on a macro scale. But what does it mean to go viral?
Going viral = the tendency of an image, video, or piece of information to be circulated rapidly and widely from one internet user to another; the quality or fact of being viral.
While aiming to go viral is not a viable business model, it can be a useful way to gain traction and an initial foothold in the marketplace for your product or service. Let's look at some ways that you can incorporate virality into the products or services you are building.
1. Create a Two-Sided Reward
Create an incentive for initial users to invite their friends to use your product. Paypal and Dropbox are 2 companies that did this extremely well. Paypal offered $'s for every person you helped sign up to their platform. Dropbox offered extra storage for every new member you helped bring into their storage service.
2. Appeal to Users' Vanity
Appealing to a users' sense of vanity and competitiveness encourages them to spend more time using your product or service. Indie Hackers does this well by allowing users to accrue points. Linkedin also did this well in the early days by showing the number of connections you had front and center on your profile. This incentivized users to start thinking about inviting more people to connect.
3. Build for Collaboration
Build for collaboration between users. Apps like Google docs allow you to "Share" files for collaboration purposes. Slack allows you to "invite people" to new workspaces.
Create the ability for others to embed your product within your website. This is especially true if you are building products with user generated content. Twitter does this well for embedding tweets and news. Stripe and Gumroad also do a great job of this allowing users embed payment widgets within their websites.
5. Incorporate Social Sharing
If your products produces artifacts from user generated content, you should incorporate social sharing that can link back to your product.
Pinterest lets users pin items from the web, and then share the pins onto social media. Then, when someone discovers the Pin, they can click into Pinterest and be shown a collection of more interesting items.
6. Artifacts Shared via Messaging
Utilize things like sms and text sharing as a viral opportunity. When using Lyft for example, users can click a “Send ETA” button which is actually a viral feature. Pressing it prompts the user to send a tracking URL to another person, which in turn spreads the word about Lyft.
Attach promotional signatures to all messages that are sent relating to your product or service. Hotmail’s signature line at the end of every email helped them grow from 20k users to 1.5M users over the course of 4 months in the early days.
Mailchimp also does this to great effect by putting their logo at the bottom of each email users send. It can also be good to give users an opt out in case they find this annoying. Of course, this works best for products that send out some form of messages, usually over email.
Of course, even utilizing the email signature function with your business email for linking to your product is a simple way to implement this one. You can create one super quick with Hubspot's free email signature generator
Catherine is the head of Operations at Soar.sh, a marketing services agency for growing startups. Soar helps digital companies grow faster with...