How to Create Viral Content By Filling it With ‘Social Equity’

Before we dig in I have a question for you…

What came first – the chicken or the egg?

I’m serious.

Contrary to what everyone thinks this question has an answer.

So try thinking about it seriously for 30 seconds. I’ll wait…

Back already? Want to know the answer? Well the answer is … (drum roll please)…

The EGG.

The reason is very simple …

A long time ago creatures that were very similar to chickens but not quite chickens roamed the earth.

They were one tiny mutation away from becoming chickens … but they were not there yet. It doesn’t mean they weren’t happy. It only means they weren’t chicken.

Then one morning, one of these nearly-chickens laid an egg. And this was not an ordinary egg – the DNA of the almost-chicken mutated and that egg carried the first chicken in the universe.

Cool isn’t it?

My son loves reading Wikipedia entries and he stumbled unto that.

But how does that relate to viral content?

Well … we tend to share stuff that we find impressive. The reason we do this is because it gives us ‘social equity’. When we tell a really good story it makes us look smarter and more interesting.

So if you create a piece of content that when shared makes the ‘sharer’ look smarter or cooler or funnier – you’re on your way to creating a viral piece of content.

And what’s really cool about this is that you can easily find interesting stories and facts to incorporate into your content…

Just pay attention to how you react to stories and facts … if you’re thinking – “Wow, that’s pretty cool” or if you experience a strong emotion, then email yourself a note about that particular story or fact.

If you properly tag those emails, pretty soon you’ll have a bunch of stories you can use in your content.

But that is just the beginning.

Another factor that increases the viralness of your content is – useful information.

If you provide useful actionable techniques in your content then you increase the amount of social equity a reader gets when he shares your content.

So a strong recipe to creating viral content is to …

1. Collect stories and facts that impress you or trigger a strong emotional response in you.

2. Use them in your content.

3. Give away useful, actionable techniques in your content.

And that’s it … you now have a recipe for creating your own viral content

P.S.

If you found this a article just a little bit helpful then I have a small favor to ask of you…

Please share it by pressing one of the social media icons at the bottom of this article or by sending it to a friend.

It would mean the world to me!

P.P.S.

The inspiration for this article came from a brilliant book about viral content called “Contagious” by Professor Johah Berger.

Why the REAL Diet Happens on the Weekend

On any given weekday I have a very strict (some may say boring) routine.

  1. I get up and drink coffee
  2. Eat an energy bar (low calories) and drink water
  3. Drop the kids off at school
  4. Swim for an hour
  5. Eat a raw egg (to build muscle) and bit of cornflakes to restore energy after the swim
  6. Work
  7. Drink coffee
  8. Work
  9. I make and eat a big salad and drink water
  10. work
  11. Eat my 4pm meal – usually cornflakes and yogurt.
  12. work
  13. Go home at around 7pm and eat dinner (2 slices of bread, vegetables, some low fat pastrami and soup)
  14. Play with the kids, showers, insert kids into bed
  15. Read something or see a TV show with the wife
  16. Eat the night meal (a couple of biscuits and a Popsicle).
  17. Go to sleep.

It’s all very predictable, habit based and … very effective in helping me lose weight. But on the weekend the routine goes to hell. It’s more like…

  1. Sleep late
  2. Chaos
  3. Birthday parties
  4. Chaos
  5. Snacks
  6. Family feasts
  7. Chaos
  8. Snacks

That’s why you have to be particularly mindful on the weekends and be aware that if you can maintain your diet through the weekend, you have 10 times the chance to lose weight.


photo credit: Drew “Rukes” Ressler via photopin cc

How to train yourself to stop snacking

In my experience, addiction is rooted in Pavlovian behavior. I’ll explain…

I noticed it when I quit smoking (Yes, Yes, I was also a smoker). The first challenge was getting rid of the nicotine addiction. That was hell, but it only took two weeks. A much bigger challenge was getting rid of my smoking habits. Even when I didn’t need a cigarette for the nicotine,  I still felt an almost overwhelming urge to light up in the following cases:

1. When I was excited

2. When I was sad

3. When I was stressed out (which happened a lot since I was the CEO of a struggling startup at the time)

4. When I drank coffee

5. After sex

And that’s just a partial list.

A few times, the need to smoke was so strong, I slipped. And bear in mind that at that point I couldn’t even stand the smell or taste of cigarettes.

And still… I smoked. Despite knowing that it would be disgusting . Despite knowing I would need to go through nicotine-withdrawal hell all over again. And despite the fact that my lovely, gentle wife  would kill me dead if she found out.

And still, the conditioning was so strong, it took me more than a year to get from under it.

Why this happens

Well… it’s pretty simple. The nicotine in the cigarettes and the sugar in the snacks stimulate our brain’s pleasure center.

So when we repeatedly compensate ourselves with pleasure (chocolate) while feeling an emotion (sad) and every time we reward ourselves (cigarette) after performing a specific action (drink coffee), we are training ourselves to associate that action or feeling with the snack or with the cigarette.

This association is created at the primal level of our brain (our lizard brain). That’s why it’s so hard to fight it. That’s why these urges ‘appear’ out of the blue.

What to do to stop snacking

1. Stop being ashamed – you are not weak. You are just very well trained to snack.

2. Make a list of snacking triggers – Be honest. Make a complete list of all the feelings/situations that send you on a snack hunt.

3. Choose an alternative reward – Find a behavior that gives you pleasure and that’s healthy. It’s also a good idea to chose something you can do anywhere and doesn’t take long to do, Like talking to a friend or listening to a song on your iPod or doing one yoga exercise.

4. Start small – Pick one trigger that causes you to snack from the list above and decide to replace its reward/compensation with the healthy alternative.

5. Repeat for 30-60 days – This is the amount of time it usually takes to re-train your brain.

6. Continue to the next trigger – Once you’ve re-trained yourself for a specific trigger, you can move on to the next one. The second one will be a lot easier, because you’ve already succeeded once.

I’ve used this technique to quit smoking and stop snacking. The only problem was I substituted the smokes and the snacks for reading comics and watching TV. So now I have to quit those.

Well… nobody’s perfect (yet)

I need your help…

I want to compile a comprehensive list of healthy alternative habits. I would love it if you could think of something that you (a) love to do and (b) you can easily do anywhere and (c) don’t require a great deal of preparation.

And then either leave them as a comment on my facebook page or here on the blog.


photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography via photopin cc