One of the questions I am most often asked is “how do we make this go viral”. To my mind it is also one of the silliest.
The objective of “social” weather it be media, or a drink in the pub, is engagement with others. The objective of viral is, well… not sure, apart from entertaining shocking, scamming ,infecting and occasionally informing people we do not know, will probably never meet, and who will have no impact on our lives.
However, the manner of the diffusion of content on the net logically has an impact on the level of engagement an individual will have with any piece of shared content.
Something that is “e-broadcast” to everyone on a list by an unknown person or institution to the individual receivers, is unlikely to have high open and resend rates, so will not go far. By contrast, something sent selectively to individuals with whom there is already a connection of some sort will have a higher open and resend rate.
It is these open and resend metrics that count, in effect an endorsement from a sender you know that it is worth your time to open the link.
The return on effort is definitely with social, not viral.