When creating content that is designed to go viral, you are creating something that is entertaining and informative and is engineered to be shared in an exponential way. App virality is contingent on giving your followers and additional audiences something to interact with and inspire participation. It needs to be something that is built into your app, not just as an afterthought.

Viral digital content can be shared among different social networks and their masses of followers or via email and messaging.

Yet what makes someone share something in the first place? This quote from a growth hacking panel during VentureBeat’s 2015 MobileBeat conference sums it up nicely:

For one thing, some messages might be more likely to go viral than others, depending on how they make people feel. “Things that make them feel loved more, make more money, feel smarter — those are the units you need to type into your system to allow people to share,” said Manish Chandra, founder and chief executive of Poshmark. “It’s really looking at what is going to make that person feel better.” And rather than sharing something that advances a company’s agenda, people share “to propagate their own agenda.”

Physical world virality works much in the same way and it is one of the driving forces behind apps going viral. People are instinctively drawn to discussions and affirmations from trusted sources such as friends and family regarding products. Apps are no different. The importance of “word of mouth” cannot be overlooked.

There is a delicate combination balance for app virality. Below are five key elements that app marketers can count on to increase their app’s virality.


1. Incentivize Sharing

Show the user something and make them feel good about sharing your app, then give them something to show for it. The amazingly successful combination of incentives programs used by apps such as Dropbox and Airbnb led to the app being shared by the masses.

Yet This wasn’t the only key to their growth, it was actually coupled with but the fact that they are amazing apps that add value to the life of users drove virality. When a user truly believes in an app’s ability to enriching both his or her life and can be enjoyed by others along with providing incentives to the user, you have a winning combination.

Gett taxi app, an Israeli-based app that is now in 57 cities, has also employed incenitvized sharing to strengthen its presence and popularity. Specifically, the reward of referring is not limited to one instance- per each reference, the referrer is rewarded along with the receiver.


Gett App_Referrals
Gett App


Often times it also works for apps to instill a sense of urgency/time limit for the user to share the app. If you do this, it’s recommended that you include a note specifying limited time or provide a date they need to share by in order to receive the incentives. You don’t want to anger a user by not being straightforward regarding a particular expiration date. 


2. One Click Sharing

Sharing is crucial to app virality, but you must not make sharing a lengthy process. In app land, more than one step is lengthy. Allow a user to share with the masses using just one click. The more steps involved, the greater chance your users will opt out of sharing. Yet bear in mind that potentially sensitive/personal information should not be set up for one click sharing- this could frustrate and/or embarrass the user, which is the last thing you want. 


3. The E G O Factor

Think of all the times that you took an online test that you scored well on, like a color test, memory challenge, or a pop trivia quiz. If you did well, these are all things that you wouldn’t mind sharing. You get comments such as great job and way to go! If it worked for you, it will work for those you share with- and then they take the test or quiz and share their accomplishment and so on and so on. This is the epitome of virality. Enable the content to trigger users’ EGO Factor and be shared everywhere.


Under Armour's "Record" App prompts users to challenge their friends to workout challenges via sharing the app.
Under Armour’s “Record” App prompts users’ egos by having encouraging them to challenge their friends in exercise competitions via sharing the app.


4. Establish Trust and Transparency

Let’s face it. Sharing and privacy are a bit of a contradiction. Your app needs to tell users exactly what they are sharing and who they are sharing it to. If users start seeing their private content shared on Facebook for example, they will less likely probably lose trust in your app, and even worse, uninstall your app and leave it a negative review. Users need to believe in your app, they need to trust it before they share it with their networks of friends and family. Provide lots of sharing options they can switch on and off at will. Show them that you are not taking advantage of their networks. Ultimately, give them control and be transparent in all areas of the app.



MyFitnessPal app offers users many privacy and sharing settings. They are very clear about how users can tailor their settings.
MyFitnessPal app offers users many privacy and sharing settings. They are very clear about how users can tailor their settings.


5. Radiate Value

People like to share things that make their lives easier. Social currency is increased when an app adds value to the user’s life- thus increasing its virality as well. This is especially the case when there are more people comprising the community that directly benefits from an app’s value. Take a ride sharing app for example, the more people involved in the app, the more options people are provided with to get around. The bottom line with your app, make it great. Make it something that not only users will turn to first for a particular need but also something they will be excited to speak of and share with their friends.  

In a nutshell, there is no magic formula in making an app going viral. However, if you follow the guidelines above you will surely gain a better understanding on how you can establish a great rapport with your audience and inspire them to share. Please feel free to share this post (give it a little virality love) as well as your app sharing successes and failures. We can all learn something.


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