I just an a great back-and-forth this morning on twitter (@l6now) over the discussion on K-Factor calculation with Jorge, a friend of the Launch6 Team.  For those of you that never heard of a “K-Factor,” it’s basically a formula one uses to calculate a viral sharing number.  The K-factor can be used to describe the growth rate of websites, apps, or a customer base.  The formula is roughly as follows:

i = number of invites sent by each customer
c = percent conversion of each invite
k = i * c

Before we get into how to measure viral distribution, let’s find out some reasons why your content is NOT going viral.

Everyone wants their content to go viral, right? Why else would we spend hours and hours working on blog posts, creating infographics, and crafting engaging messages on your social media accounts? We want people to read it.There is a big difference between creating content and creating engaging content that people want to read and share with their friends online. If you are not getting the results you want from your content development plan and failing to get the far reaching exposure that will expand your brands online presence, then you need to make a change.

Unfortunately, creating great content does not necessarily mean that it will go viral. There are a number of key reasons why your content is not going viral.

The following points bring to light some of the most common mistakes that professional and novice content creators make when creating online content:

  1. Your content lacks an emotional connection: Tapping into your readers emotions is essential. People love content that appeals to their emotions, especially when you tap into problem areas and offer viable solutions. Start by using emotional words and phrases in the title of your blog post or video and try using a basic problem/solution style in the body of your post.
  2. Your content in not inherently shareable: One of the biggest mistakes that people make that prevents their content from going viral is that they create non-sharable content. This is why it’s viral to understand your audience and tap into their interests. Write about topics they want to read about, be current, tell a story, and provide the information your audience is searching for online.
  3. Your timing is off: Timing is everything. For example, no one cares about romantic date ideas to sweep your sweetheart off their feet on Valentine’s Day if it’s posted on February 15th. This is important for everything you post. When you post is also very important – look into the times and days of the week when your content is most likely to shared and create a timeline that will help you maximize the impact of your content.
  4. Your content is not visually appealing: Looks matter! Your content need to look the part. The design needs to look professional, have attention grabbing elements, and be visually appealing to your audience.
  5. You are not sharing on the right social channels: If you want your content to go viral, you need to not only share it on the correct social channels online, you also need to tap into the audience that is interested in reading and sharing your content. Think about your connections. Do you know any friends, family, or colleagues that have influence in topic area? Is there a particular social media channel that is intuitive for the type of content you want to share?

Rectifying these issues to better position your content will help you reach a wider audience – an audience that is looking for and actually wants to read your content.

Article by Nolan Wilson

One thing I would add to the above is having the right Viral Sharing Tools.  With the right sharing links, you can add unique URLs to specific parts of your website that your users / subscribers can share.  Luckily we provide all of these tools for free for our members, so we have you covered here.  Launch6 has trackable social sharing that is able to set up conversion pages to track social media ROI.

Not, let’s dive into the measurement goodies.

Below is a fantastic post by Des Trainer – the cofounder of Intercom.io


Explanations are explanations, promises are promises, diagrams are diagrams… but only performance is reality.

Let’s look at how to measure social distribution. Our question here is: given a new user, how many additional new users will we get? This is what’s known as a k-factor. If k is above one, we have gone viral. Unless you are the purple cow, k is well below one, but that doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Recall that Dropbox benefitted heavily from social distribution despite not going viral. A k of 0.5 means that for every 10 users you acquire (through adwords, blogging, affiliates, etc.), you’re also getting another 5 on top which lowers your cost per acquisition.


You won’t get these 4 measurements from Google Analytics, so you’ll need to an engineer handy to run some queries. It’s a pretty simple formula, k=a*b*c*d with the following definitions

  • a: the percentage of users who publish at least one share event per visit.
  • b: the average share events per user per visit.
  • c: the number of Users referred from social networks for each share event.
  • d: the percentage of c that become authenticated users (i.e. in a state where they too can publish).

If you’ve just run the numbers here there’s a 99% chance that you’re disappointed. You were hoping for somewhere in the 0.5 to 1.5 range, but now you’re staring 0.02 in the face, meaning that for every fifty users you acquire, you might get one bonus one.


There are 4 metrics you need to aggressively monitor. They are as follows:

  1. MUU: total number of monthly unique users.
  2. MAU: total number of monthly authenticated users (i.e. those that are logging in).
  3. DAU: total number of daily authenticated users.
  4. pDAU: total number of daily authenticated users who publish sharable events.

There are 3 key ratios shown here—MUU to MAU, MAU to DAU, and DAU to pDAU. Improve each of these ratios improves your k-factor. Let’s look at what we can do.


In other words, how can we get more of the monthly visitors to sign-up or login? There’s 3 ways to influence this ratio:

  1. One-click social sign-in. This outperforms username/password on all consumer products, bar none. If you don’t have it as an option, you’re hurting yourself.
  2. Promote social sign-in above your standard sign-in. All things being equal, consumer sites want customers to sign in via Facebook, as this helps the product spread. Of course, do offer your own login system as an option, but only as a secondary one.
  3. Finally, for customers arriving from a social network, have them sign in solely through that network. e.g. if a user comes via Twitter, ask them to sign in via Twitter. It’ll be the smoothest experience (as they’re already logged in).


Another way to phrase this would be: how can I increase engagement so that my users return to the site more frequently (and log in while doing so)?

We’ve covered the techniques for engaging users extensively on the blog before, but the key ideas here are automatic login (the average Facebook user is perpetually logged into Facebook, so you can automatically log them into your site based on FB authentication), useful notifications to motivate a return, and regular digests and summary mails.


How can we encourage more of our users to share? There are three key ideas here:

  1. Lightweight event sharing: anywhere there is activity, you should ask yourself if it is shareable. Someone pins a dress on Pinterest, makes a playlist on Spotify, likes a photo on Flickr, reads an article on the New York Times site, adds a review on Foursquare, starts a project on Dribbble, searches for photos on Spots.io… all of these are shareable events. The more you have, the better your ratio.
  2. Passive sharing: you can automatically share some activities, assuming you have user’s permission. For example, Spotify, LastFM, Quora, etc. all passively share lots of user activities, which guarantees a pDAU to DAU ratio of 1:1. Every single time I launch Spotify, I’m sharing to Facebook. When you can remove a ratio from the equation, it significantly reduces your challenges.
  3. Share from anywhere: a common mistake here is to only permit sharing from your web app. Activities should be shareable any time they are performed—not just through a web application. This means that in the rush to sleek mobile design, you need to be careful about cutting off your call-to-actions for sharing.


Spamming doesn’t work. It’s bad for business. Sharing without permission, sharing non-user activity on their behalf, spamming friend lists, sending irrelevant push notifications, all of these are short-term wins, but in the long term you lose absolutely everything. Your app will be blocked, your users will cancel, and your product will be pulled from the App Store.

Viral distribution accelerates your logical conclusion. This is why you have to solve retention first. If you have no compelling reason to return, then going viral won’t help you—it’ll just speed up the process at which you die. Bill Bernbach famously said “Nothing kills a bad product faster than good advertising. Everyone tries the thing and never buys it again.”. The same is true for good distribution.

Social distribution brings a new wave of growth which both consumer and business-to-business products can benefit from. But if your product sucks then it just brings the lethal injection.

Lastly, marketing guru Mark Baratto says put out great content and a reason to share it.  If content is good consistently over time, you will become an authority in your space.  The more value you add to your customer, there more they will want to help you; put your customer first.

Looking for FREE online tools to help you get more customers and persuade them to take action? Check out LAUNCH6.com for more details.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.