There's a school of thought that asserts going "viral" is a random occurrence. There is no formula, algorithm or logic that dictates what does and doesn't become a mainstream hit on the Internet. Those people are correct. But there are ways to hedge the bets in your favor—without selling 3/4 of your soul on market research, and the last 1/4 presenting the concept to a skeptical executive team.

First and foremost: authenticity is key. You've heard that before, no doubt, and probably have no idea what it means, so here's the formula to create a voice that remains authentic as it takes off across the Net:

Ask company members to anonymously list what they think your product/brand represents. Dig beyond your marketing and executive team; you'd be surprised what tech, sales and customer support reveal that you're not seeing.

Go out into the wide world and talk to people who should be buying your product. Put it in their hands, let them try it out. Talk to people on Twitter, pass out free passes or samples, see what feedback you get. Keep your ears open for both positive and negative stuff.


Compare the collective opinions of your company and the Zeitgeist. The essence of your brand or product lies somewhere between all those opinions. Take a little time to zero in.

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