In a Funny way I guess a viral loop is like a hula hoop both go round and round and if done right others around you start doing it too.
In today’s modern world, without powerful digital tools such as social media and viral marketing, your business potential is completely limited. Persuading clients to browse through your website pages, getting them engaged with your content, then sharing it with their social networks is the very foundation of growth hacking.
A viral loop is the different stages an individual will pass through from when they enter the site, and where they take the positive action of sharing, or inviting others to view that content. It is this type of marketing that can invoke a zero-to-hero business within a matter of weeks. This method has already sent countless businesses from start-up stage to million dollar making organisations within weeks.
The main concept behind viral loops is that a business has a core loop. Over time, as in, generations of time, this “loop” gets repeated, causing a ripple effect, thus turning it into the things that everyone is talking about. Now, getting this right from the get-go is vital as it can impact upon the overall lifespan of the company, and can be a major factor contributing to success in the early stages of business. There is no exact way to guarantee the creation of this viral loop. However, as with most things digital, there are specific methods you can adopt which will be very useful to know.
Something which is fundamental to remember is that you should try and put yourself in the mind of your “customer”, to think as if you were a customer or a visitor to your site. It is within our nature now to share information or content that you find amusing, interesting or useful. Many individuals will share things with their own social networks if it represents their own opinion, personality, or helps them to get a conversation going amongst peers or friends.
Typically, the below steps are those of a user, or an individual within a viral group;
- A person uses your service or product
- They receive a small incentive for sharing data about their purchase
- The incentive or offer is taken up by the user
- They share it with friends or peers
- You sell more
The Different Types of Viral Loops
Having a basic viral loop consists of sharing the information about a product or service with your network, and in return, you receive more of that product. A great success story can be found within the Dropbox business model. Sharing the product with friends results in you being rewarded with more storage space. Anyone who signs up will also be able to avail of the same offer.
Have you ever heard of two-for-the-price-of-one? Of course, you have. These are tremendously popular and can be seen clearly right across such sites as “Groupon”, or within supermarkets. If you like a product and you are buying one unit today, you may as well buy two if they’re on offer as you are likely to use that at some point in the future. Or perhaps, a spa day where you get to take along a friend for a reduced cost.
A value-driven viral loop rewards individuals with genuine “value” for their use of the product or service. A practical example of this is if you are the person who shares a voucher for $5 with others, and it gets used; you will then earn that same amount back as a referral bonus payment. This gives individuals something back financially for their sharing of your service, or product, whilst also being able to offer people within their network, something with a tangible, financial benefit if they sign-up, use your service, or buy a product.
This specific viral loop rewards both parties as well. However, the voucher is normally a percent saving off a future order. This incentivizes the person sharing the details of your business to make aa repeat purchase, while also giving your potential new customer a great reason to make their first purchase. This method is extremely popular due to the return it offers to both parties.
Socially Driven by Causes
A lot of companies give money to charitable or social causes, many of whom like to make a bit of noise about this type of activity. It is often these very public announcements about causes which can cause the “loop” effect with that organisation's customers. Quite often a business will proclaim that a percentage of funds that their customers spend with them are donated to a cause. This provides the individual with a further reason, or incentive to make a purchase with that business.
This trumps the idea of using a coupon in many cases because the individual feels better about spending their money if they know that a portion of it is going to a good cause.
Perhaps on the most effective forms of viral loops can be found within the YouTube model. It is super easy just to copy the code for the video, and paste it anywhere you like. There are so many different videos on the platform to watch, to share, and to like. Now, a multi-million-dollar business, YouTube has taken viral loops to another level.
Creating Your Very Own Viral Loop
There are a range of business out there who have business models which are solely founded on viral loops. Although at first, it might seem like a daunting task, it doesn’t always need to be that way. In the beginning, getting set-up, and putting things in place is a priority. Once everything has been set in place, you can relax and wait for the cash to start rolling in!
The Entry Point
First, you need to choose an entry point for your loop, will you use Facebook, Twitter, Articles on your blog, or will it be via email. The trick here is to make it as straightforward and as simple as possible for people to interact with your organisation. If you fall at the first hurdle and make it too hard for people to connect at the start, you will fail.
Getting the message just right is key. It’s a tough balancing act, but you need to be bold enough to get their attention, without being so “in-their-face” that you scare them away.
Once the point of entry has been identified, the next stage is to outline the structure of your loop, short and to the point is the most effective. Bamboozling people with pages of data is not effective. Aim for a maximum of 2-3 pages and be sure to invest some time in testing to make sure that individuals are not dropping out, and if they are, you can pinpoint here this occurring within the loop. This essential testing will enable you to know at what point you are losing people, and it will also give you valuable insights on how to maximise each section or area of the loop.
The Viral Hook
Choosing where your viral hook is place is equally as important. This point relates specifically to what it is within your content that will entice people to share information about your product or service. Avatars, Music, or Widgets which can be highly individualised always deliver great results when you are considering what will incentivise people to share your app or data on their pages.
Put up the On-Ramps
Finally, you will need to put in place something which is referred to as “on-ramps”. Essentially this is a way to ensure the individuals can locate and become part of your loop with ease. This involves looping your homepage, with your adverts, and SEO for example.
The above steps are the basics steps you will need to follow to set-up your own viral loop. There is no better way to increase your understanding of viral loops than to go through the process as many times as you can for yourself. Facebook, Uber, Dropbox, Mail Chimp and YouTube are all great examples of businesses who have mastered the art of viral loops. By going through this process, you will be able to understand the stages and separate them from each other; seeing first-hand the different techniques and ideas that are used to get you from your entry point, right the way through to the point that you are enticed to share.
To ensure success, there is a range of different features of a viral loop which can help you to achieve this. Viral loops which are free work far better than those which require some form of payment. Keeping things relatively straightforward always results in a more efficient route for your visitors. Allowing your users to create content can also add to the ability for the content to go viral.
An essential element, in the beginning, is to carry out a lot of testing to make sure you get feedback for each stage of the process. This feedback is vital to ensuring that you can work out exactly which parts help, or hinder the process of making your content go viral.
By using feedback from real-life users, along with reviews, you can boost your viral loop when people are perhaps choosing what to buy, and question if they are making the right decision to purchase. These stages can occur later, once your business has created and built up a reputation. Each business is different and will operate slightly different to each other depending upon the industry it is within.
As you have now reached the end of this post, I hope you will have a much better understanding of what a viral loop is, the different stages, and contributing factors which are in place; that can make-or-break a viral loop.