21 May 2015 | 26 Comments
Yesterday I did something I rarely do: I shared a YouTube video.
I watched the CBS trailer for the fall show Supergirl last week, and I really liked it. It made me happy. But I didn’t share it.
Rather, it wasn’t until I read that it had accumulated over 10 million views in 1 week–more than all trailers for all new fall shows from the major networks combined–that I decided to share it on my blog. I waited until a critical mass had confirmed that the video was worth sharing before I decided to share it.
Kickstarter creators–myself included–have barely tapped the potential of internet virality. We’re not reaching that critical mass.
We share our projects on social media and encourage others to do the same via project updates and stretch goals, but who shares those shares? Hardly anyone.
Why is this? We’re sharing the wrong content. That is, we’re sharing–and making available to share–pretty much only one piece of content: Our project page. That’s not enough, not nearly enough.
So what is the right content? It’s content–an image, list, meme, or video–that catalyzes this two-step process:
- Inspire a person to share the content
- Inspire a friend or follower of that person to share the content again
It’s that second step that is so important, as it allows us to reach beyond the people in our tribe. But you can’t jump there right away–you have to start with a catchy title.
The Title Is the Thing
If your content doesn’t have a good title or opening line, you’re going to have a lot of trouble getting to step 1, much less step 2.
Internet virologist Ze Frank describes these as “share statements.” He gives a few examples in this article:
- How to Restore Your Faith in Humanity
- How to Piss Off Every New Yorker in 36 Seconds
- Drunk vs. Stoned
- What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage
Each of the statements asks a question and assures you the answer is just a click away. What this does in terms of sharing is that it gives a person room to elaborate on what the post means to them when they share it.
Step 1: Inspire a Person to Share the Content
The key to getting the first person to share your content is to create something that makes someone think one or more of the following things:
- “I want to talk about this.” (content that inspires conversation)
- “I told you so.” (content that reaffirms something you know or believe)
- “Look what I found!” (content that shows how clever and unique you are)
- “This is how I want to be perceived.” (we use content to represent the best or coolest versions of ourselves)
- “This is going to save me a lot of time and trouble.” (we’re compelled to share lists of mistakes others have made or pitfalls to avoid because we often see them as near misses–things we almost did. We want to warn others before it’s too late for them.)
Step 2: Inspire a Friend or Follower of That Person to Share the Content Again
Once that first person has shared your content, the content needs to have a deeper layer–something that goes beyond what a fan of your work cares about–to get a stranger to share it again. The content thus must also make a person think one or more of the following things. Often this layer of sharing involves someone sharing the content with one or two specific people rather than with all of their fans and followers.
- “This made me think of you.” (this is another way of saying, “I’m proving that I know you.”)
- “I don’t want you to miss out.” (this applies perfectly to Kickstarter since there’s a ticking clock)
- “This made me feel something and I want you to feel it too.” (this usually applies to happiness, but not always)
Does virality equal conversion? That is, how many of the people sharing your content actually go to Kickstarter to pledge?
Those are good questions, but it’s not really under your control. The best you can do is share content that doesn’t seem like a sales pitch, because then people definitely won’t share it.
I think the best way to prevent this is to give people just enough information to discover the project on their own or to get them to ask, “What is this?”
That is, don’t plaster the content you share with links to Kickstarter, Kickstarter logos, etc. Just create awesome content that meets the goals of step 1 and 2, and leave some breadcrumbs so people who are interested in learning more can do so.
I’d love to hear from other creators about content they’ve created specifically for the purpose of sharing. I really think this is an area where we can all improve. It doesn’t take that much work to create a few clever images or memes and share them during your campaign.