Having a social media campaign go viral is nirvana to any marketer.

Yet all the creative juice power in the world can’t guarantee a blog post, video, or email will catch on like wildfire.

The reality is you can’t manufacture it or force it. One of the biggest misconceptions, or perhaps viral myths, is the belief that you can create a viral campaign. The confusion lies in the fact that “going viral” is a result of your marketing campaign, as opposed to being the campaign itself.

When you ask successful marketers what makes a campaign go viral, they’ll tell you that there isn’t any one particular element that determines whether the idea will take hold. Yet you’ll just know it when you see it.

In lieu of an actual proven formula for viral campaigns, here are three elements to consider for your next campaign with the goal of attracting more than your average share of readers or viewers.

1. Authenticity
The content needs to come from real people aiming to communicate with other real people. Avoid corporate speak and dress codes that may appear too buttoned up to more effectively reach the average consumer.

2. Emotion
You can genuinely stir emotions in your audience by relating to real life experiences. You don’t have to lose sight of your small business mission yet you can illustrate how you, your organization, or your customers impact a person’s life.

3. Action
We all have more than enough options available to stimulate our brains these days. If you’re considering a visual campaign, be sure to keep it short and action-oriented. You don’t have to create a dizzying experience for your audience, but any type of physical and/or fun activity will retain viewers and get people sharing socially.

Now for the flip side. To learn the three things you should steer clear of if you truly want to capture a wider audience, read my latest contribution to American Express’ OPEN Forum, “Viral Marketing: Strategy or Serendipity?”