Tap your community and the K factor to drive viral growth

Going viral is the dream, but most projects need a little push.

Mariusz Gąsiewski, Google’s CEE Mobile Gaming Lead, compares going viral to sightings of the mythical Yeti, the legendary snow creature that allegedly roams the Himalayas.

“Many more people are talking about it than really saw it,” he told TechCrunch, noting that viral growth comes in two types: “real” and “supported.”

“Viral requires advocacy,” said Gąsiewski, meaning that most viral products trickle up via various levels of acceptance. Products that gain “real” virality are usually built from the bottom up, with smaller groups finding and sharing them until they eventually break the barrier.

Bored Apes, for example, began in the depths of NFT subculture, eventually crossing over into the mainstream thanks in part to disbelief at the prices paid for the artwork and promotion from celebrities like Paris Hilton and Jimmy Fallon.

Supported virality, said Gąsiewski, is bought and paid for.

“It is more common, although still rare,” he said. “In this case, someone is trying to create a snowball effect through advertising, working with influencers, etc.” He said this variant has become more difficult to create as audiences become more media-savvy.

“Even hyper-casual games whose growth strategies were based on such idea[s] in the past do not work in that way anymore,” said Gąsiewski. “Their growth combined is with strong user acquisition (UA) activities.”

Formerly known as word of mouth, virality is the middle path, Solydaria creator Andrew Yakovlev said via email.

“It’s the hardest, yet least expensive, the path between the paid media ‘push’ path on one side and the content-based ‘organic’ ‘pull’ path on the other. Each of the three paths has their black, white and gray practices, their vices and virtues,” he said.

Yakovlev pointed to the K factor formula:

  • k=i*c

  • i = average number of invites sent by each customer

  • c = average % conversion of each invite sent

In other words, given the size of the audience contacted, how many individuals responded and potentially engaged? Through a mixture of real and supported user acquisition, many marketers believe they can generate viral growth rates.