How I got 230,118 Visitors in 12 hours with Viral Marketing

by Shadi Halloun, January 2, 2013

 How I made it:

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What I did was that I came up with a simple idea that applied the 3 rules of viral marketing (look below).

I made a simple webpage that looked like a news webpage and then I added a "trend title" which in that time was something about Justin Beiber and Miley Cyrus. I’ve put a timer, which popped a scary face (along with a scream) after a few seconds. Result? People shared the cool page to fool their friends.

Initially, I paid for ~50 visitors (for a kickstart) and from there it grew to 230,000 visitors in the middle of the third day automatically on auto-pilot. 

My huge mistake:

Wondering what happened after the middle of the third day? The hosting company suspended my account, and by the time that I had found a new hosting company, transferred files, and waited for DNS to change, my campaign had died.

The mistake I did was that even though I wanted to hit that huge number of traffic, I wasn't really prepared to or expecting that. If I was, I would have picked a bigger hosting package initially. So, if you are planning to make a viral campaign, make sure that you are ready to best results just like you are ready to the worst.

The 5 simple rules for getting content viral:

1) Make sure your content is shareable:

What type of content is 'shareable', you might wonder?

A) Content that stirs a feeling:

This is the best type of content for viral marketing. You want the user to feel super happy, excited, belonging, alive, encouraged, surprised, free, energetic, inspired, sad, concerned, curious, touched, rebellious, doubtful, irritated, scared, etc.

B) Content that is discussable:

This also can work. For example, if you write an article about the existence of aliens, there are people who disagree and there are people who agree. Therefore, your content is discussable, and people (both who agree or disagree) will want to share and discuss your article on social networks.

2) Make it easy for them to share:

You must make it very easy for the user to share your content via social networks, email, and direct linking. So make sure you put obvious buttons/links in front of your user.

Also, make sure that you have an awesome Call to action text as it can make a huge difference.

3) Make sure your idea is very easy to understand:

Your text size, text color, and images have to be very easy to read and understand. Keep in mind that internet users are always in rush and will not hesitate to click a button and leave your page if you make it hard for them to understand the concept quickly.

Test it: After building your page/banner/etc, get someone who doesn't know anything about what you are doing, and then ask them to visit the page (in front of you). Now let them check it for 4 seconds. Then ask them about the idea of the webpage. If they knew more/less what it was about, you are ready to go. If not, make it more simple and easy to understand.

4) What's in it for the user?

People are not going to share your content if it doesn’t serve them somehow. Even if it's for charity causes, most people will share your content mostly for self-promotion. Others want to get the word out about some cause, so they use social media as a soapbox. So make sure that your content will help your user to "improve" his reputation. Keep in mind that before sharing, your user will always ask himself:

Will I look funny/smart/caring/loving/hippie/clean/famous/helpful/old-fashioned/brave/kind/thankful/modern if I share this content?

The more “good” he’ll look, the more likely he will share it.

5) What's in it for the person he's going to share it with?

You want the others to be impressed with the content you are sharing with them. Not only because you care about them, but also because your reputation is on the line.

So if your content is a win-win (for both the sharing and shared-with), it's much more likely to be shared and go viral.

Viral marketing in the Arab world:

Nowadays, it's not that easy to get something viral on the Arabic web, mainly because of the Arab spring and the events in Syria and Egypt as most people are sharing content about these topics.

However, if you want to launch a viral campaign in Arabic, here are a few points to take into consideration:

1) Know what Arabs want:

There are huge differences between our Arab culture and the western culture. According to Google Keywords Tool, what we search for the most (translated from Arabic) is:

  1.    Forums
  2.    Games
  3.    Photos
  4.    Songs
  5.    YouTube

However, globally, what people search for the most is:

  1.    Michael Jackson
  2.    Facebook
  3.    New moon
  4.    Twitter
  5.    Lady Gaga

As you see, what the Arabic web users look for are more general topics, compared to more specific keywords globally. And that makes it much easier for you to get more people to see and share your content.

2) Make it in Arabic:

  • 60% of Saudi Arabia Facebook users are using it in Arabic.
  • 45.9 out of 65 million Arab web users search in Arabic.

I think those 2 statistics are enough to convince you to make your campaign 100% in Arabic. I’ve seen some marketers trying to launch viral campaigns in English or half-English, it never works.

3) Currently, it’s very hard to monetize Arabic traffic:

I used to have a 300k UV/month Arabic website which I couldn’t monetize. I put a CPA content locker there only to make around 50$ a month. I tried banner ads which produced an even worse result. Maybe it was because of the niche. Anyway, make sure that you know exactly how you will make money off the traffic.

Do you have any tips about getting content viral? Feel free to comment below!

Shadi Halloun is a 20-years-old entrepreneur and founder of WeirdPoll.

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