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Viral is the effect, not the cause.

You can’t make a viral video, ad, or idea. 

You can make a great video, ad, or idea. If a gazillion people share it, then it went viral. 

Viral is the result: It’s what happens when people love your stuff so much that they share it with everyone.

(Run away if someone tells you that they can make you a viral ad. They can’t. No agency has the magic formula. Pay attention if they tell you that they can create a lot of great content and distribute it smartly to the right people, hoping it will go viral.)

Here’s a video interview with Ze Frank on the topic:


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  1. Rolando June 7, 2008 at 10:19 pm #

    Hi Andy! great book and blog yours!
    I’m totally agree with you. People tend to think any kind of things about Viral Marketing, Word-of-Mouth, Communities, etc… just look at this: [terrible definition (IMHO)]

  2. Erol Toker June 8, 2008 at 2:16 pm #

    Your thoughts are spot on. I definitely think that people confuse cause and effect A LOT in the tech industry. I specifically liked the comment in the video, where it’s pointed out that ‘viral’ is very much an ‘unexpected’ outcome- the fact that people are trying to make a science out of creating unexpected outcomes makes no sense.

  3. Ramiro Caso June 17, 2008 at 6:51 am #

    I couldn’t agree more!!
    I just posted something very similar, talking about one the most important (or the most important) conclusion that I drew out of the CMA Word of Mouth congress last week in Toronto.
    You can’t make a WOM campaign, what you can do is come up with a great idea and hope it’ll spread and make people talk about it.
    Great post!


  1. Why you should give away a lot of free stuff - October 23, 2009

    […] (Watch Ze — he’s one of the smartest and funniest people I know. I talk with Ze here about why viral marketing is a myth.) […]

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