Techweek Day 2: Entertainment for the Masses

This was the best session of the conference so far.

Emerson Spartz says that understanding how to make things go viral is like having a superpower. Emerson came up with algorhythms for systematically making things go viral. He could successfully predict whether things would go viral within 20 minutes.

After Emerson spoke for a little, Filmmaker Casey Neistat told his story of ipodsdirtylittlesecret.com was really cool.

Emerson’s scientific approach to virality was an interesting comparison to Casey’s organic approach.

When something goes viral, it creates a lot of emotion. Virality = Emotion. The simplest ways to create emotion is through anger (e.g. injustice), cuteness, nostalgia, current events. People are always asking themselves, “Will sharing this make me look cool?” People also want to be the first one to share it (taking ownership).

Casey: “No matter how talented you are as a filmmaker, you can’t compete with a cat playing a piano.”

Emerson then riffed in response to a question about how brands can get things to go viral. To get things to go viral, ignore content. Concentrate on incentives. Bribery works better. Giving money works great. Referral programs are the simplest and most effective way to get something to be viral.

Figure out what you want people to do, then figure out what you can bribe them with (coupons, donating to charity on your behalf). Then Casey hilariously chimed in and says he hates everything Emerson is saying (partly because it is true).

The sweet spot is to couple great content with an incentive to share.

Emerson’s Greatest Hits:

  • Tweet important things 3 times, 8 hours apart.
  • Every post you make to facebook, upload a photo.
  • You will get 50-100% more engagement.
  • Short sentences.
  • Change every comma to a period.
  • No more than 2 sentences in a row.
  • Lists are magical.
  • Make your lists odd-numbered.
  • Start at the highest number and go down.
  • Put arrows before links. –> (untrains people from ignoring your links)
  • Always use a link tracker (like bit.ly) so you can track the stats

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