Potato Salad and Crowdfunding Virality

Kickstarter did a great post on the Potato Salad project, examining how a rather unambitious project goes viral and rakes in more than $55,000.  (And if you don’t know what I am talking about when I say “Potato Salad”, what deep dark dank hole have you been crouching in for the past month?  Here, take my hand and let me pull you up.)

The post examined how an Internet sensation gets started.

We’ve always told clients (and prospects) that if their marketing plan says “and then we go viral” we’re going to kick them out of our cushy global headquarters and slam the door behind them.  You can add elements to your implementation that support and make it easy for people to send your content to a friend but you can’t plan for viral.  Viral happens.  Viral happens when you create something so awesome that everyone and their brother, sister, mother, uncle, cousin wants to send to a friend.  Or something so funny. Or touching. Or sweet. Or weird. Viral happens when you get lucky and the right person forwards it to the right person and so on. Even people who have previously created something viral can’t replicate it on demand.  True viral is a tall order.

But viral does happen.  How?  As I read about the Potato Salad project, one thing stood out to me…

“Zack’s project started popping up in the press almost immediately. On July 6th, three days after it went live, Zack was on local TV news in Columbus, Ohio, expressing amazement at how the thing had blown up. At the time he had fewer than 200 backers.”

That’s right.  Local TV news.  The mass media got it rolling after the creator positioned the project as a crazy raging success.

Like many people, I “saw it first” on social media but I would wager that the early social media visibility was liberally aided and abetted by good old mass media.  That first local TV news story was probably enthusiastically pushed out by people who saw it.  (“Check this.” “So funny!” “I know you love potato salad; you should get in on this!”)  More than 2000 stories were written about the project, all fodder for the viral fire.

So crowdfunders — What’s your story?  How will you make it awesome?  How will you capture the imagination of potential funders?  And how will you be pitching it to the mass media?