Viral Media Marketing

Okay, so you’ve got your users sending invites to friends and colleagues. And you’ve got those friends and colleagues, who are now prospective new users, opening and (hopefully) clicking on those invites.

You have won this battle, but the war is far from over.

Life After the Click


Once someone has clicked on an invite or something that’s been shared with them, what do they see? What’s their experience like after that first click?

This is where your viral media takes over.

Your viral media is what the invite or shared content looks like or says. To give you a better idea of what this entails, below are a few examples of viral media that several companies with prolific viral success stories use to impress, and later convert, their prospects.

  • For YouTube, this would be the content of a shared video. The primary goal is to get prospects to watch more videos, get exposed to more ads, and potentially make and upload a video of their own to share with others.

YouTube Video End Replay Share - Viral Media Marketing

  • For SlideShare, this would be the content of a shared presentation. The primary goal is to get prospects to consume more presentations, sign up for an account, and potentially make and upload a presentation of their own to share with others.

SlideShare Presentation Embed - Viral Media Marketing

  • For BuzzFeed, this would be the content of the article that’s been shared. The primary goal is to get prospects to click on and consume more articles, get exposed to more ads, and potentially find content they want to share with others.

BuzzFeed Article Headline Porn - Viral Media Marketing

  • For DropBox, this would be the content of the folder or the file shared by the inviting user. The primary goal is to get prospects to sign up for an account themselves, upload some of their own files, and potentially invite others to gain access to those files.

Dropbox Share With Friends - Viral Media Marketing

  • For Basecamp, this would be the content of the project the prospect is invited to view or collaborate on. The primary goal is to get prospects to interact and collaborate on that first project, create an account and project of their own, and potentially invite others to collaborate on future projects.

Basecamp Project Roles Invite - Viral Media Marketing

  • For TED, this would be the actual content of a shared video. The primary goal is to get prospects to watch more videos, find videos they find fascinating, and share those with others.

TED Talk Video Lucianne Walkowicz - Viral Media Marketing

Viral media can be user-generated, such as with Youtube or SlideShare. It can also be generated in-house, such as with BuzzFeed or TED.

Either way, the viral media serves as the new prospect’s very first exposure of the value a product has to offer. Sometimes it’s through an embedded video on someone’s blog, other times it’s through a link to collaborate on a project. The quicker this value is captured by the prospect, the more often they will become a user, and the more likely they are to complete viral loops of their own.

Creating Viral Media That Converts


The conversion rates (conv%) on your invites depends largely on your viral media. This is because – as I’ve touched on before – the foundation of a good viral marketing campaign is value. As such, your viral media is the first exposure to the value that can be gained from using your product. 

In a way, it’s kind of like love at first sight. Assuming that you’re a viral Casanova. If you’re not, it’s more like repulsion at first sight. Which is far less cool.

Those same conversion rates are also dependent on the relevancy of your viral media compared to your viral message. Much in the same way a paid ad that has a matching landing page converts better than if the two said completely differently things, so too do both your viral media and viral message need to sync up.

The reason this relevancy is vital is because you’re starting a narrative. Users have indicated that they’ve started to buy into that narrative by clicking on your message and granting you a small amount of their time. So it wouldn’t make sense to completely derail that narrative in favor of something more canned or mass-market.

Instead, continue that narrative into the viral media.

Provide the prospect with the experience they expected to have when they clicked on their invite. You only have a few moments to convince a user to stay, so this experience must be carefully-architected and well thought-out.

In other words, blow their freakin’ socks off.

What’s Next?


You’ve gotten users to send invites. You’ve gotten prospects to open them. And you’ve just exposed them to some kickass media showcasing all the wonderful value your product has to offer.

Now it’s time to convert those prospects into users.


Do You Know How to Avoid the Surefire Way to Fail?

After doing all the hard work of creating an amazing viral engine, there’s still no guarantee your business will succeed. That is unless you can do this one, very important thing. What is it? Head on over to our next chapter to find out.


Travis Steffen
Viral Buttons by UP