Every single viral campaign begins with giving something away. Every one.
It could be an ebook, a piece of software, an instructional video, or even a
few laughs, but it has to be free. And when we say free, we mean free. Not
free with an opt-in or a free trial. It has to be really free, because you’re
going to encourage your customers to share it with their friends, and no one
wants to tell their sister she has to sign-up for your list to get the cool thing
you’re giving away.
Now that doesn’t mean you’re giving away the farm. But you do need to give
away great stuff. There’s lots of ways you can do that, while still leaving
your customers wanting more.
For example, if you build and sell a software package that helps bloggers
find free photos for use on their blog, you could offer a free version of the
software that only searches one database instead of several. Or if you’ve
written an ebook, you might release one chapter for free.
One thing to remember, though, is that the free product must be useful all
by itself. You’re not releasing a free trial, you’re essentially building two
products. One which you’ll give away and one which you will sell, and they
both need to be valuable to your users. Free software that is so limited as to
be worthless is not a good candidate for a viral campaign. The same is true
for a chapter of an ebook that ends with a question.