Have you ever wondered how a tweet, post or TikTok goes viral? I recently sat down with Ja Rule, celebrity rapper turned entrepreneur and investor, to discuss the psychology behind viral content as part of the interview for my upcoming book “The Psychology of a Website.”
Ja Rule’s recent viral commercial for Papa Cristo’s Greek restaurant cemented Ja Rule’s reputation as someone who has cracked the code to viral content while supporting a small business owner affected by the recent pandemic.
While it can seem like viral posts receive millions of shares because of blind luck or timing, Ja Rule uncovers that social media hits can be replicated if you understand human psychology. In an exclusive interview on his new ICONN Live app, Ja Rule shared his formula for viral content.
No 1. Know your audience
In the search for viral fame, it’s crucial to keep your audience at the forefront of your process. What type of content will resonate with them? What will they value?
If you fail to think about your audience, your content could send them mixed messages. For example, if your brand caters to a business professional audience, publishing joke content may miss the mark. You want to push the envelope enough to get the attention that leads to a reaction, but not go too far and risk turning your audience away.
No 2. Create a spectacle
Viral content becomes a sensation because it triggers an emotional reaction. Whether that be excitement or laughter, content that gets an emotional response compels the user to like and share. As Ja Rule put it, “the more shocking, the more chance you have to go viral.”
Keeping your audience in mind, how can you create a spectacle they will remember? After you, you need to find a way to stand out. Think about what sort of slightly controversial or outside-the-box content will get your audience to hit, share, like, and comment without turning anybody off.
No 3. Make it tasteful
While making a spectacle will get you attention, Ja Rule cautions to make sure you do it with taste, that “there’s a thin line between tasteful, cool and funny and distasteful or turnoff.” Don’t cause a spectacle just for the sake of getting attention, such as “cloud chasing.” Make sure your content stays on brand and aligns with your audience’s values.
Before you post, ask yourself these three questions: Is this content right for my audience? Is it unique and different to be considered a spectacle worth paying attention to? And lastly, is it tasteful and on brand?
Follow these steps and you can go viral like Ja Rule.
Matthew Capala is a seasoned digital marketing executive, founder/CEO of Alphametic, a Miami-based digital marketing agency, author of “The Psychology of a Website,” dynamic speaker, and entrepreneur.