"Why People Share: The Psychology Behind 'Going Viral' and 9 Startup Lessons From Phil Knight, Creator of NIKE"

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Aug 17, 2023

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"Why People Share: The Psychology Behind 'Going Viral' and 9 Startup Lessons From Phil Knight, Creator of NIKE"

In the age of social media, it seems like everyone is trying to create viral content. But what makes something go viral? The psychology behind why people share can give us some insights into this phenomenon. Additionally, the lessons learned from successful entrepreneurs like Phil Knight, the creator of NIKE, can provide valuable advice for startups. Let's explore the common points and connections between these two topics.

One common motivation for sharing is the desire for status. As pack animals, humans are constantly thinking about our place in the hierarchy. Sharing something exclusive or associating ourselves with high-status individuals can boost our own status. Similarly, Phil Knight emphasizes the importance of hiring a team of believers. When people sense your belief and passion, they want to be a part of it. This sense of belonging and prestige can motivate individuals to share their experiences and accomplishments with others.

Identity projection is another factor that drives sharing. People want to showcase who they are and find validation in their point of view. Sharing content that aligns with their identity allows them to connect with like-minded individuals and receive affirmation. Likewise, Knight advises individuals to seek a calling rather than settling for a job. When people find their true passion and purpose, the energy and enthusiasm they exude can inspire others to share in their journey.

Safety is a fundamental human need, and it plays a role in sharing as well. People want to be informed about potential threats or dangers in their environment. Apps like Nextdoor and Citizen gained traction by addressing this need for neighborhood safety information. Similarly, startups should focus on providing tools that help users optimize and organize their lives. This not only makes individuals more efficient but also allows them to share their organizational strategies with others.

Novelty is another driving force behind sharing. Humans are naturally curious and seek out new experiences and information. Sharing something new and innovative makes us look ahead of the curve and allows us to showcase our openness to new ideas. This desire for novelty can also be seen in how NIKE evolved over time. The brand and its iconic swoosh logo were not established until 11 years after the company's inception. This evolution shows that startups should not strive for perfection from day one but rather embrace the process of growth and adaptation.

Validation and self-esteem are powerful motivators for sharing. People want to feel good about themselves and their place in the world. Sharing accomplishments, positive results, or experiences allows individuals to seek validation and boost their self-esteem. Additionally, sharing content that allows others to live vicariously through them provides a sense of enjoyment and satisfaction.

In terms of startup lessons, Knight emphasizes the importance of not wishing for problems to go away. Challenges are inevitable, but having momentum and belief in your mission can help overcome them. Hiring a team of believers who share your passion and purpose is crucial for success. Targeting end customers and understanding their needs can drive growth. Startups should also focus on their brand's evolution rather than striving for perfection from the start. Taking care of mental and physical health is essential for long-term success. Financial health and managing cash flow are also vital considerations. Being aware of the bargaining power of suppliers can prevent potential issues. Lastly, never giving up and persevering through challenges is essential for achieving goals.

In conclusion, understanding the psychology behind why people share can inform strategies for creating viral content. Additionally, learning from successful entrepreneurs like Phil Knight can provide valuable insights for startups. By incorporating the common points and actionable advice from these two topics, individuals and businesses can increase their chances of going viral and achieving long-term success.

Actionable advice:

  • 1. Tap into the desire for status by creating exclusive or high-status content that people want to share.
  • 2. Focus on identity projection by aligning your brand with a specific point of view or identity that resonates with your target audience.
  • 3. Embrace novelty and innovation by constantly evolving and adapting your product or brand to stay ahead of the curve.

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