9 Scientific Ways to Make Your Ebook Go Viral

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Dan Zarrella
Dan Zarrella



1. Fill a knowledge gap

During World War II researchers in Britan and the U.S. studied how rumors could be weaponized. They discovered that when something happened (like a big noise) and there was no "official" explanation for it, rumors proliferated in this information void.

In every niche there are still areas where there isn't much real information or data available. Find out what people in your industry want to know more about and give it to them.

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2. Be timely

Is there some new trend in your space? Be the first to write about what's happening, then emphasis the urgent and timely nature of your content.

3. Encourage remixing

From my research into urban legends I learned about the concept of communal recreation. The core of this idea is that people often add their own twist on a story when they spread it.

You should try to exploit this natural human urge in your content. If your ebook contains numeric data, consider releasing the information in a spreadsheet so others can do their own analysis. Make sure people can copy-and-paste text from your PDF and maybe even include specific quotable passages in the page or blog post where you announce the ebook.

4. Provoke conversation

When asked why they spread content , people often cite conversation as a primary motivator. Contradicting commonly held wisdom will typically lead to people starting dicussions about your content, as will including open-ended questions and asking for real-world applications of concepts you've covered.

5. Teach readers how to do something

Another commonly cited viral motivation is "utility." That is, people tend to share content they find useful. Giving your users utilitarian information they can use right away or how-to content will help your ebook spread.

6. Build social proof with testimonials

When you're done writing your whitepaper or ebook, pass it around to a few friends or "industry celebrities" that you know and ask them to comment on it. Then take these quotes and put them in the PDF itself, as well as on the blog post annoucing it.

7. Use viral calls to action

In my research on ReTweeting I discovered that asking people (politely) to share your content works very well. Just as you use calls-to-action to drive visitors to your site to take actions, you should also ask your readers to share your content with their friends and social networks.

8. Get it out from behind the pay-wall

If you want people to share your ebook (or any other type of content) you have to allow them to access and distribute it feely and easily. Don't charge for your best content, and don't ask people to sign in to get at it.

9. Seed it into social media

My research has shown that savvy social media users are the most contagious viral users. When you release your ebook, make sure that it appears in the social sites that your target demographic visits often. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are great places to do this.

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Topics: Viral Campaigns

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