In less than 24 hours, "Ashes," a music video for the upcoming blockbuster Deadpool 2, has hit the online jackpot. It's going viral, generating more than 4.2 million views as of the time of this post.

In the video, Ryan Reynolds's character Deadpool joins legendary songstress Celine Dion about halfway through, playing the role of backup dancer. He serenades the diva with interpretative dance in a pair of high heels. This absurdity is completely in line with the character, the movie, and the irreverence at the heart of both.


Everyone wants to  go viral. It's the ultimate low-cost marketing effort. But how can you actually do it? How do you get total strangers talking about your product or service?

Use these six lessons from Deadpool and Celine Dion:

1. Get personal.

Going viral isn't about getting your content in front of people. It's about getting your content in front of the right people.

Deadpool fans expect the titular hero to be wacky, funny, and self-deprecating. That's exactly what they get here. Know your audience. Leverage your customer discovery to really focus on the people you're serving.

2. Make an emotional connection.

Knowledge may help people make decisions, but emotions drive action. Integrating different emotions into your content can help your message resonate more effectively with your audience.

Always stay conscious of the goal of the viral item, and link that goal to an emotion that drives action. This video, which made me laugh and smile, makes me want to see the new movie. Full stop.

3. Be worth sharing.

I shared the Deadpool music video with several people who I knew would find it funny. By doing so, I brought a little joy to their lives.

In order to increase virality, you need to make sure you're sharing something worth sharing sharing--that it offers value to both the recipient and sender. A 2017 Buzzsumo study showed that the most viral pieces of content tend to be lists and infographics. That's because they're quick and easy to view--and they're packed with potential value for the reader. 

4. Empower others to share.

People are lazy. Make it easy for them to help you. Include sharing links to a variety of social media platforms and encourage people to share far and wide.

If you can reward sharing, do so. Dropbox has gone viral in the past by allowing users to earn extra storage by referring others to the service. This same technique has proven successful for the likes of Uber, Google, and Airbnb.

5. Give up control to gain an audience.

Let your fans edit, share, and remix the content to make it more personal. The Deadpool music video just came out, and remixes are already happening. Here's just one I found:


By empowering others to create and post remixed content, the Deadpool video's creators turned fans into promoters. Doing this helps your audience feel like they're part of your campaign. 

6. Leverage what already works.

The Buzzsumo study found that content with at least one image gets more than twice as many shares on Facebook and Twitter than content without any images. You can even sort images by viral potential: Post Planner has an app that allows you to filter and find images that have historically been very shareable. Leveraging what already works lowers risk and increase the probability of success.

You don't need superpowers or Celine Dion to go viral. Always keep your audience in mind and provide them something both useful and shareable. Even if it's just a humorous video, empower the sender to share it--and give them a reason to do so.

Published on: May 4, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.