It Came From Quora: How To Make A Website Go Viral

How do you make something go viral when it's not tech-related? SocialTimes B.J. Mendelson may have an answer ...

I don’t know how many of you know who Emerson Spartz is, but he’s smarter than I am. Especially when it comes to viral marketing. There’s not many people I’m comfortable saying that about. Not out of arrogance, mind you, because there certainly are people smarter than me, but I’m very competitive. I want to be the best in my field by a mile. Unfortunately, when it comes to viral marketing, I’m not where I want or need to be. At least publicly. Most people just know me for being the Social Media Is Bullshit guy. That’s nice, but it’s not the whole story. I mean, c’mon, I got  my cat involved with a presidential election! That’s gotta be worth something, right? Right? Hey, where are you going?!

Ok. Ok. Let’s get back on track. In order to get to where I want to be (the top viral marketing guy in the world … I know. I’m so lame), Emerson recommended I spend some time on Quora learning everything I can about the stuff I don’t know. Not a lot of you probably use Quora, but you should. It’s a great resource, there’s not a lot of stupidity on there, and you can learn quite a bit. Plus hey, you might run into me answering questions about viral marketing and virality. Because of course … that’s what I do with myself on a beautiful Saturday afternoon instead of interacting with nature. Hey, the same can be said for you. Why the hell are you reading this right now? Go use Instapaper and read this later. Like on a bus or something. That’s what I do. Ah Instapaper, how would I survive my bus rides to NYC without you?

I don’t know if we’ll make this a regular feature at SocialTimes, but here’s the answer I wrote to a question concerning how to make a “non-techie customer focus” website go viral. Enjoy!


You can make anything viral, it doesn’t have to be tech-focused at all. The trick, more or less comes, down to making sure a lot of things click at once. This is more difficult than anyone will ever admit, but it’s also not as impossible as some viral experts have claimed. I’m a believer that good organization overcomes chaos every time. I learned that while I was promoting sold out concerts across the East Coast when I was eighteen-years-old. When you book concerts, anything that can go wrong will go wrong, so you have to be prepared. The same is true for making things go viral. If you’re prepared for chaos, you can overcome it.

So …

Step 1 and 2: The idea / product / website / whatever has to be easy to use (we’ll just call it the product from now on), easy to understand, and easy to share. My philosophy is borrowed from Einstein on this one: Is the website so easy to understand, use, and share that my grandmother would understand it? If so, you’ve done your job. If not, work on this until she can get it. Both of my grandmothers were very smart, my Dad too. But, for example, trying to explain to my Dad the benefits of using the XBox 360 to use Netflix over his in-television smart app is like trying to explain an alien technology to a caveman. You need to overcome that hurdle first and explain the benefits to him (a better user experience) in a way he understands. THEN you have to make him excited about it. Otherwise he may know what the benefits are and not care because the television remote is the default setting for how he has always used a TV. That’s step two. Step two is reaaaaaaaaaly important but often overlooked. Why would you act on something, or share it, if you don’t care about it? Find a way to make them care. I wish I could be more specific, but every product is different. That answer has to come from you and your team. Anything I may say is just (questionably) healthy speculation on this front.