Going Viral: What can you learn from Twogirlsandapuppy

If you weren't on Facebook on January 15th, then you might have missed the out of control explosion on the page of Twogirlsandapuppy. Two girls talked their father into letting them get a puppy if they could get 1 million likes on FB. Armed with nothing more than their three adorable brothers and a handwritten sign, the girls took the internet by storm and in less than 24 hours got almost 2 million likes and ended up on Good Morning America.

So what can we learn from this and how can we apply it to our own platform? Here are my three take-aways.

1. Keep it simple
These girls weren't asking you to vote for anything, visit another site, sign up for a contest or buy anything. They simply asked you to like their picture. This is genius, because FB is made for this. When you like something, FB asks if you want to share your new like with your own friends. One more click of the button, and now all of your friends can see it too. This sort of function is a crucial part of going viral.

For you: Don't go crazy! When you are first starting out, you can't ask too much of your fans. While superfans will probably do your dry cleaning if you asked, most fans are going to need to warm up to you first. By starting simple, these girls created engagement and started a community (exactly what you want to do). When running a contest, don't ask contestants to do ten different things to get an entry. Keep it simple and easy. Once you have an established fan base, then you can ask them for more. For example, if these girls asked their new fans to post pictures of their own rescue dogs to help them decide what kind of pup to get, I bet their page would be flooded with adorable puppies by the end of the day.

2. Hook and Show
The picture and homemade sign hook us in. What's not to like about 5 cute kids who want a puppy. When you click on their page, they share a short story about how their family dog recently died and they wanted to get a new one. Their parents initially said no, but agreed to what they thought was a crazy plan. It's David (5 kids) against Goliath (Mom, dad & the whole internet).

For you: Telling a good story doesn't just apply to your novel. Your platform needs to tell a story, too. In fact, it's telling a story even if you don't know it. Make sure it isn't telling the story of a cynical writer with a bad attitude. You can call it a story, theme or niche, but whatever you call it, make sure your platform is intentional.

3. Make it Personal
Just in case you weren't already sucked in by the cute kids and the sad story of their lost pet, they seal the deal with another bit of info. If they managed to get their 1 million likes, their dog would come from a rescue or shelter. Jackpot! The underdogs plan to help a dog that's down and under (puns intended).

For you: People want to follow other people, not brands, themes or identities. Make your platform personal so you fans can get a taste of who you are as a person. This doesn't mean you need to tell your life story and share intimate details. Just be real in your communication. Let your personality come out and show your fans there's a real person behind the pages.

As evidenced by the GMA segment, popularity breeds popularity. As more people sit up and take notice of  you, the harder it will be for the big players to ignore you. I wouldn't be surprised if the story of Twogirlsandapuppy is covered on half a dozen more news outlets by the end of the week with a feature story on their local news once they bring the new puppy home. Now picture your books getting the same kind of coverage.

**Unrelated Reminder: Today is the last day of the Corvisiero & Friends Auction. I donated a complete platform review and analysis.You can check out my item and all the others here.