How Do You Make Your Internal Message Go Viral?

by Michael Haberman on March 2, 2012 · 0 comments


Much of the activity of HR takes or should take lessons from marketing. One of the masters of marketing is Seth Godin. I would suggest you read him. In one of his posts, called Fade or Gain? he talks about the survivability of messages. What makes one message fade or another gain. One thing popped out to me as a way to make your internal message go viral within your organization.

He talks about the fact that most ideas eventually fade. We see the same thing internally with messages that are put out to employees. Some of them seem to “die on the vine.” Godin says that most messages suffer that, with some exceptions, and those are the ones that go “viral” We have all seen YouTube videos that have gone viral. They catch on and suddenly they have 12,ooo,ooo views. As Godin says:

Eventually, even these viral ideas fade away (if they didn’t, then every single person on Earth would know about LOLcats and be into slacklining.) But before that happens, an idea spread by an excited tribe can have huge reach, particularly if it’s digital.

One mathematical cause of this viral spread is the outlier who becomes quite active in sharing the idea. This superuser might tell a hundred or a thousand or more other people about it. Using his own pulpit, reaching his own tribe, the superuser raises the average (the R0 value) to over one, causing the idea to continue spreading.

The emphasis in the quote is mine. That is the lesson for HR that can be derived from this marketing message. If you want your HR message to go viral throughout your organization then you need to find your “outlier” who buys into your message and spreads it for you. Often we rely on formal channels to relay messages and those formal channels may impede the message. So identify the person with the ability to spread the message, the person with the network that farthest reaching and enlist them.

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