Propagation Planning

“We want a viral video”

We’ve all heard our clients, new biz prospects and colleagues express ask for a viral video, or any piece of content, and secretly shuddered to ourselves. Maybe we’ve rushed to Twitter and expressed our disdain for the term – “they’re focusing on the outcome, not the input!” – but I think we’re doing viral a disservice. Because sometimes the way you plan and disseminate your content is just as important as the content itself.

Enter Propagation Planning. A technique that goes beyond hoping content simply goes viral. A technique capable of kick-starting, controlling and exploiting online word of mouth.

As the deck states, propagation planning is rooted in the theory that you should:

Plan not for the people you reach, but for the people they reach.

In a world where everyone is a node, how can you get these nodes to pass-on your signal?

Propagation Planning

Well, first its about the content – as in the above diagram, it has to be at least one and hopefully four of useful, entertaining, interesting and participatory – but it’s also about the distribution.

It’s more than something as trite as “influencing the influencers” but about looking at the target as a building with many doors and about the campaign as a series of creative executions as a way to get into those doors. That’s the funny thing about doors. If I think about the doors to our condo building, sometimes you have the key, sometimes you need someone with the key and sometimes your timing is such that the door happens to be opened. You have to plan for all eventualities and outcomes.

Read more:

Griffen Farley has a blog on Propagation Planning


3 Responses to Propagation Planning

  1. Darryl says:

    I like skateboarding legend Tony Hawk’s take on viral marketing:
    “the whole viral thing is, to me, played out, because it’s clearly forced. It’s got to be real.”

    On authenticity:
    “The real problem is that some people put in charge of product development and marketing aren’t beholden to their products — it’s just their job. But passion really shines through, especially with all the information that’s out there now.”

  2. Great post, Ed. I found myself smirking while reading it because it seems like the kind of thing I would have written. Ha!

    1) I love the propagation planning model and Griffin’s deck from the last Planningness. Kind of deck I’ll look at a few times a year to keep the ideas top of mind.

    2) I love Mike’s quote that you shared and actually use it frequently in strategy decks. It really resonates with people and so effectively captures *why we share*.

  3. […] few weeks ago, I talked about Propagation Planning. To quote myself, Propagation Planning is: a technique that goes beyond hoping content simply goes […]

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