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How My Niece Went Viral

How My Niece Went Viral

April 18, 2013

Most can't and won't ever go viral. But some have broken the code. Two weeks ago, my niece Alise did it, too.

Learn how her little company, Paper Dolls, sold out of stock and got over 400,000 views to their Facebook page according to the local Channel 5 News.  There is a real take-home message here for all of us in this story

Alise Glenn, my savvy, entrepreneurial niece, manages the social media at a lively clothing boutique in St. Louis, devoted to the trendy tastes of her young female customers.

Always the promoter, Alise wanted a way to create more excitement for her customers with a new product. She knows they love the world champion St. Louis Cardinals. So Alise built a social media contest around the theme by using another wildly popular theme, Keep Calm and Carry On— the patriotic WWII poster saluting British soldiers­—and memorialized on everything from coffee cups to bedroom rugs.


A little twist on words, she created a new spin for a tee-shirt: Keep Calm And Watch Cardinals Baseball.  Of course, she didn’t know if anyone would buy it, but her intuition told her it had the legs of a home-base runner.

Here’s her original Facebook post:

"Who wants to win a FREE PD CARDINALS SHIRT ?!? It's easy...All you have to do is "like" and "share" this posting on your FB page. Then you will automatically be entered into the t-shirt giveaway. "Share" it on a friends page and you will be entered again! Due to the popularity of the contest, we are closing the contest at end of day on Thursday. Winner will be announced on Friday April 5th! The contest starts NOW! xoxo"

Holy Hot Dogs. Before she knew it 4,378 Likes turned up on the Facebook page, and 7,142 people were talking about the contest. But that was only the beginning.

Soon, she snagged 400,000 views on her website, and orders for the T-shirt began flooding in from as far away as Japan.

That’s not supposed to happen. She’s only a little boutique called Paper Dolls with a Facebook page.

Would you like ot know how you can go viral, too? Read on.

You Must Play to Win

Like a jazz pianist who practices long hours each day for his chance in the spotlight or the understudy who knows every line just in case the star falls, their breakthroughs happen on stage BECAUSE of constant practice, discipline, and mastery week after week. This mind set launches the creative burst that  spreads like pollen in a field of bees and wild flowers. 

If you don’t play to win...that’s gambling with your business.

Alise posts every day. She creates content that builds relationships, gets people talking, sharing and buying. And she gets inside the heads and hearts of her customers.

Just like the lottery, you need to play to win. In business, you must be marketing regularly -- and working social media regularly -- if you want to attract new customers.

For a review on how to take your company viral, simply click here and write "viral" in the subject.

Why did it go viral?

The ultimate question. Here are some insights: First, it was timely. This was opening day. The time was ripe. Second, this built on the famous British WWII-era signs, "Stay calm and carry on." The parody T-shirts are funny and press an emotional chord with the target audience.  And third, Alise was constatnly in the game working social media. So when the opportunity struck, she was ready.

How To Go Viral?

Any time you can get something to go viral on the web, you catch tons of exposure at lightning speed. 

Posts go viral when they pull traffic from elsewhere on the web because it’s shared, searched for, and linked to. Seems difficult? Lean in.

Ask yourself, “what’s viral in my business? “ What will excite people to share it with others. If you can’t think of anything, ask again:  “What am I going to come up with to market my business? 

A new product.  A sales campaign.  A promotional event.  Do you even know? 

Ouch. That’s painful. If you don’t know, who’s going to figure it out for you?  One thing I know for sure: You can’t keep on selling the same ole’ stuff the same ole’ way.  People change. Markets change. The brave new world is all around us, and it’s electro-magnetic with possibilities.

Seven Ways to Go Viral

Let me share how you, too, can take your business to viralmania:
1. Make a List. The Internet loves lists. Ask yourself: What are the Top Ten Things in Your Industry that matter to your customer? Post away.
2. Do a Video. People love to share videos on the web. Witness the juggernaut, You Tube. Produce a funny video on the ten zaniest ways your customers use your product, or a two-minute skit on your worst business experience, upload to You Tube or Vimeo, and viewrs will share on their own social networks.
3. Start a Contest. Just ask Alise how well this works, 400,000 views later.
4. Use Humor. We all need to laugh daily for our mental and physical health. Post funny stories or odd pictures, all in keeping with the culture of your business, of course. If you get people laughing, they will share your gem everywhere. And of course, they'll remember you when they do ti.
5. Respond to the Zeitgeist. Pay attention to news, trends, and current events. Create content around them because people will search on those subjects. Example:  Nasty snowstorm headed for your region; alert your customers with ideas on how to prepare. Anyone can make a connection to most any news, trend or event.
6. Stroke the Ego. BuzzFeed suggests to appeal to the vanity of others with quizzes because it gives the opportunity to talk about themselves. Try a quiz-of-the-week on your site with thought-provoking questions. The results may create a conversation worth sharing.
7. Create Graphs. Infographics are superhot right now. Think about an aspect of your industry or business that lends itself to an attractive graph to share with customers who, in turn, may share it with theirs and on through social media.

For a review on how to take your company viral, simply click here and write "viral" in the subject.

One Minute on Social Media

Learn about the many social network sites to help your business go viral. But remember, you must create something worth sharing. So never be boring.

  Facebook: Set it up, post good content often, go for Likes (We're just starting Brand Launcher's Facebook efforts, so please "friend" us here.)
   Twitter: Set it up, tweet often, add links to smart tweets; news now breaks on Twitter
   Google: Go for search rankings with tags, keywords, updates to get content found
   LinkedIn: Set up profile, 200 million business users. Be there! (We're still finalizing our Linked In page, but please "follow" us here)
   Instagram: Share photos of happy customers using your products and services
   Pinterest: An inspiration board for wish lists, collections, planning project

So take a lesson from the little boutique in St. Louis. Create some irresistible bait to attract customers. Make it different, enticing and memorable. Then unleash it through social media. Next, create a social media calendar for posts. Plan out the year. Test the best media for your business. And publish consistently.

If you're serious, up your odds of going viral by turning your customers into adoring fans, like those Paper Dolls' Cardinals’ fans. Motivate them to be ambassadors like Dropbox, which exploded as one of the largest file-sharing companies on the Web by giving away free storage space when you sign up a friend. Ambassadors pass your content onto others, spreading your message and filling your pipeline with suspects, prospects and even paying customers. Now that’s patriotism for business owners.

For a review on how to take your company viral, simply click here and write "viral" in the subject.

Always taking you from where you are to where you want to go.


Jon Goldman, President [So proud of you, Alise]