Strategies to Achieve Virality

Virality may be the gold standard of mobile growth, but it’s a unique challenge on a platform where attention spans are minute, choice is rampant, and walled gardens define the user experience Despite the odds, there are clear best practices to  approach and measure your virality goals.

Why Does Something Go Viral?

1. Incentives
Savvy marketers understand that a great product usually isn’t enough and to receive, you must also give — at least in the case of building virality. So invest in your users by giving them a tangible incentive to introduce a brand they love to people who will love it too. Your incentive can be wholly tailored to your brand, such as exclusive swag, a discount your users can’t ignore, points or level-up rewards system. Bonus points if it encourages both your original user and the new one to increase their connection to your brand.
2. Ego
Most people like when they look good, smart, and better than their peers. When offering users a way to share your app with others, highlight a feature that makes them look good. Gamification is a great way to achieve this. From encouraging video challenges, post challenges, or any sort of contest users can take part in, users can spread awareness about your app while sharing content of their own that makes them look good.
3. Emotion
People are emotion-driven, and these emotions can be influenced to get users to share your app, content, or product. Different emotions drive different actions, however. In general, positive emotions like joy make people share (the happier the post, the more likely it is to be shared), while negative emotions (anger, fear) drive more actual clicks on the content. High-arousal emotions where you’re more excited, such as anger, have been proven to drive more virality than low-arousal emotions where you’re more subdued, like sadness. Here’s how these high-arousal emotions influence virality: 
"The 7 High-Arousal Emotions from” by Jonah Berger

1. Awe - If users feel a sense of wonder or admiration, they’re likely to share or to comment to spur discussion.

2. Anger - Posts that are likely to make users angry make them more likely to share, and also are prone to more comments (ever see a political post on your newsfeed? It’s no wonder they’re filled with commentary).

3. Anxiety - If content triggers a specific anxiety, worry, or pain point, it’s likely to be circulated and commented on. 

4. Fear - Similar to anxiety, fear is characterized as an emotion where you feel little control. Users want to regain that control by reading or sharing something that soothes their fear.

5. Joy - Happy content makes people feel good — encouraging them to share it with the world.

6. Lust - Making users want something through use of creative copy and imagery can get them to click. 
7. Surprise - Showing something unexpected drives curiosity.

How to Measure Virality

Virality is measured by the k-factor: a measurement used to describe the “growth rate of websites, apps, or a customer base.” It specifically measures how many new users are generated from one existing user and is calculated by the following formula: 
K = i * c, where:
i= number of total shares sent by your users (ex. If you have 1 user who shares to 5 friends, i = 5)
c= average conversion rate of those shares (ex. If 1 of those 5 friends download the app, c = .2)
So k in this case = 5 x .2, which is 1. This essentially means that every new user you gain will bring in an average of 1 more user. Higher k values indicate higher virality, and a value over 1 indicates that your app is exponentially growing — because for every new user acquired, they are bringing in over 1 more new user to hopefully become active and engaged. Thus, to achieve exponential growth you want a k value over 1.