The Myth of Virality and What Marketers Can Learn From Justin Bieber

The current social strategy of many Marketing and Ad Agencies goes something like: “It doesn’t matter if the content is good, as long as we get a celebrity to tweet it, the thing will go viral!”

The prevailing consensus is that if a Kim Kardashian or Justin Bieber tweets your content out to their followers, the inherent size of their audience will cause a viral loop, exploding the campaign into the news feeds and inboxes of everyone and their grandmother.

This fallacy is perpetuated by the ‘hip,’ ‘disruptive’ agencies as they focus on buzz words like ‘share-ability’ and ‘social’ (read in a loathing, sarcastic voice while I make air quotes). If a campaign has a presence on every social network in the known universe, with custom widgets that all connect to each other, then its success is just a matter of turning a key and watching the crowd swarm. Right?


This strategy is not only absurdly lazy, but is ineffective, irresponsible, and even a little offensive to the intelligence of your desired audience. And yet, campaign after campaign saturates the Internet, towing along promises of fame, virality and ubiquity.

Any producer or agency that has had an Internet hit will tell you that content?s value, not “share-ability,” is the most important key to virality.

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About the Author

Christiano Covino is the CEO and Founder of Mischievious Studios, a digital entertainment studio based in Hollywood, California. Mischievious Studios works to blur the line between advertising and entertainment by creating entertaining online commercial content and engaging brand-sponsored entertainment (Branded WebSeries, Films, Sponsorships). Mischievious Studios also produces and programs content for MischiefTube their YouTube channel that receives over 30 million views annually. When not creating a splash online, Mischievious Studios develops and produces feature films. Passionate about innovation, Christiano helps Mischievious Studios stay on the cutting edge and develop new opportunities in the fast-changing entertainment landscape.

Recommended Resources – Look At More

StrategyDriven Recommended ResourcesLook at More: A Proven Approach to Innovation, Growth, and Change
by Andy Stefanovich

About the Book

Look at More by Andy Stefanovich details a framework for unleashing an organization’s creativity to develop new products, build brands and audiences, and grow market share. Andy’s framework specifically targets the liberation of the ‘5Ms’ of innovation:

  • Mood: attitudes, feelings, and emotions creating the context for creativity and innovation
  • Mindset: intellectual foundation of creativity, the baseline capacity each of us has for getting inspired, staying excited, and thinking differently
  • Mechanisms: tools and processes of creativity; helping individuals incorporate inspiration into the way they work and fostering innovative behaviors
  • Measurement: qualitative and quantitative assessments providing employees with direction and feedback
  • Momentum: active reinforcement of the creative behaviors supporting innovation

Benefits of Using this Book

StrategyDriven Contributors like Look At More for its immediately actionable framework that encourages and reinforces the behaviors unleashing an organization’s innovative creativity. Additionally, we appreciate the detailed examples Andy provides from his experience implementing the framework at world renown corporations.

Besides driving innovation, we believe organization implementing Andy’s methods will also experience an increased level of employee engagement that, in our experience, significantly enhances productivity and the bottom line.

Look At More prescribes an immediately actionable method for unleashing employee creativity to support achievement of organizational goals; making it a StrategyDriven recommended read.

Recommended Resource – Creative Thinkering

Creative Thinkering: Putting Your Imagination to Work
by Michael Michalko

About the Reference

Creative Thinkering by Michael Michalko provides readers with actionable methods to tap into and broaden their natural creativity. Aimed at those who question their imaginative abilities, Michael reveals a systematic approach to generating new ideas through the association of two or more dissimilar subjects; resulting in the generation of entirely new products, services, and methods.

Throughout Creative Thinkering, Michael provides detail rich examples of his method’s application as well as challenging the reader to develop his or her own capabilities through numerous thought experiments. These elements transform this book from one that simply provides a method into one that is a teaching manual; helping even the most rigid of thinkers expand their creative horizons.

Benefits of Using this Reference

StrategyDriven Contributors like Creative Thinkering because of its immediately implementable methods for expanding one’s creative output. Michael clearly illustrates that anyone can be highly creative and through his plentiful thought experiments convinces even the most rigid thinkers that they too can be the source of highly original ideas. In a fast moving world that requires continuous adaptation, Creative Thinkering can help arm any professional with a crucial skill needed to remain competitive.

StrategyDriven Contributors have long benefited from Michael’s insights on creativity. We thoroughly enjoyed his earlier book, Thinkertoys and have applied the methods he prescribes therein to our work almost every day. If we had one criticism of Creative Thinkering it would be that Michael’s new book is not as ‘fun’ as his last – but it is by all accounts just as valuable.

Overcoming ones creative doubts is a key ingredient to taking the actions necessary to remain competitive in our highly innovative and rapidly changing world. Michael’s book provides those with such doubts a clear method for dealing with their rigidness and conceiving the truly unique; making Creative Thinkering a StrategyDriven recommended read.

Break the Innovation Chokehold: How to Stop Ruling Like a (Not-So-Benevolent) Dictator and Start Encouraging Big Ideas

Do you lead your team like you’re the great and powerful head of your own nation? Hidden away in your office, shielded from others, do you deliver orders that must be followed, never considering what your employees might think? Do you parade the halls, factory floors, or store aisles of your organization, holding audience with only the small entourage of upper management trailing after you?

Okay, this might be a slight exaggeration. But even if you embrace a less extreme version of the old ‘command and control’ style of leadership, you’re blocking the natural flow of the life’s blood of the company. Innovation.

The boss must act as the ‘external force’ for continuous, systematic change and innovation in an organization. He or she must be poised to seize the moment and capitalize on unique opportunities when they’re presented. But they’ll never be presented if you don’t stir the pot by constantly listening to your employees and challenging them to think about ‘What if?’ in order to improve your products, processes, or procedures.

To achieve true innovation, you can’t lead like an iron-fisted dictator, where your word and only your word is final. You should instead lead as a benevolent dictator – benevolent’ being the operative word – who always puts the company, the employees, and, most importantly, the customer, first.

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About the Author

Michael Feuer co-founded OfficeMax in 1988 starting with one store and $20,000 of his own money, a partner, and a small group of investors. As CEO, he grew it to more than 1,000 stores worldwide with annual sales topping $5 billion. He is also CEO of Max-Ventures, a venture capital and retail consulting firm, and founder and CEO of Max-Wellness, a comprehensive health and wellness retail chain that launched in 2010. After opening initial laboratory test stores in Florida and Ohio, a national roll-out is now underway. To read Michael Feuer’s complete biography, click here.

Ideas Are the Easy Part

One of the best aspects of my role as Fahrenheit 212’s COO is that I’m the first person candidates meet when they’re interviewing for a job. No matter how many people I interview, I am constantly astounded by the ideas they bring to our conversations. Amazing, amazing ideas with clear market opportunities.

Drinks that prevent hangovers.

Athletic clothes that go beyond wicking and actually hydrate.

A service called Dial A Mom that would provide all the services you want when you’re sick –making doctor appointments, picking up your prescriptions, even sending chicken soup. And the best part is the business would be staffed by actual retired moms. They would get paid for doing what comes naturally and sick people would get what exactly what they want at exactly the right moment. Genius!

The point is, great ideas are everywhere. Online, off line, even in a line at Starbucks, today’s culture consists of people who are constantly dreaming up new things that should exist. And as a result, I think most readers would likely agree that the old adage is true: ideas can indeed come from anywhere.

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About the Author

Pete Maulik is Partner and Chief Operating Officer at innovation consultancy Fahrenheit 212. He is instrumental in the development, evolution and actualization of clients’ innovation efforts. His experience includes leading innovation projects in the alcohol, technology, FMCG, software, beauty, financial services and hospitality categories. Pete is responsible for unleashing the potential of the Fahrenheit 212 organization. This includes finding world-class people, giving them a structure in which they can perform at their peak and ensuring Fahrenheit 212 is delivering transformational innovations on every project.

Pete has spoken on the power of bringing creativity to business at Columbia Business School, Pace University, American Marketing Association’s Quarterly Meetings, The Art Director’s Club of New York, ESSEC and Fordham Business School.

He holds an undergraduate degree from Harvard and an MBA from Columbia Business School.