$treet $mart$: How Valentine's Day Went Viral

$treet $mart$: How Valentine's Day Went Viral

Believe it or not, Americans are expected to spend $26 billion on Valentine's Day this year.  And I know things like this because the pressure to deliver on a great Birthday and Valentine's has been at the forefront of my mind for the last 18 years of dating my wife, Casey.  Which got me thinking. Why the heck do we even celebrate Valentine's day in the first place?

It originated as a Christian feast day honoring one or two early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine and, through later folk traditions, has become a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and love in many regions of the world. (Source)
When was Valentine's Day first commercialized? The first commercial valentines in the United States were printed in the mid-1800s. Valentines commonly depict Cupid, the Roman god of love, along with hearts, traditionally the seat of emotion. Because it was thought that the avian mating season begins in mid-February, birds also became a symbol of the day. (Source)
Who Made Valentine's Day And Why? Technically, Pope Gelasius was the one to invent Valentine's day as he abolished the roman festival and then established St Valentine's day in AD 496 to honour saint Valentine that was martyred. (Source)

The origin stories are unclear and part of what makes it so contagious.  Some say it was an ancient Roman holiday called Lupercalia, while others credit St. Valentine as the originator of the holiday.  Regardless of who's responsible for it, today celebrating love is a great excuse to show your significant other how much they mean to you.

What Makes Valentines Day Viral?

Almost every week I recommend the book, Contagious, by Jonah Berger. He explains his strategy for ensuring your idea or your product has a chance to go viral through six pillars of virality: Social Currency, Triggers, Emotion, Publicity, Practical Value, and Stories.  Much of what makes this holiday so contagious is that it meets all of these criteria.

  • Social Currency: When you share something special you did, or received, on Valentine’s Day with someone else, it reflects well on both parties involved and enhances the feeling of love between them. This is a classic example of social currency in action.
  • Triggers: Valentine's Day is always on February 14th, so it serves as a cue for people to start thinking and talking about love. This type of repetition helps create a strong link between the day and its associating message, meaning that the more often we are reminded of Valentine's Day, the stronger our inclination to engage in it and share it with others.
  • Emotion: Valentine's Day is a day of love and happiness that evokes feelings of joy, excitement, nostalgia, and sentimentality. People are naturally drawn to these positive feelings and often seek out ways to bring them into their lives.
  • Public: The public nature of Valentine's Day makes it feel more special and important. Online platforms such as social media, blogs, and websites are all used to share the joy of Valentine’s Day with others, making it a public event that brings people together.
  • Practical value: Not only is Valentine's Day a great opportunity for showing affection and appreciation for friends, family, and significant others but it can also be used to promote businesses and products. Companies use this time as an opportunity to market their products or services, making it a practical holiday for both personal and commercial gain.
  • Stories: Valentine's Day has become deeply rooted in many cultures, with unique customs and traditions that make it special. As such, it has come to represent the idea of expressing love and appreciation for those who are important to us. And every person has a Love/Valentine's day story, good or bad, that can be shared.  It is part of the human experience.

To me, something becomes viral when it's a shared, relatable, human experience wrapped up in a story and teaches me a lesson.  There is the reason that we deliver the $treet $marts every Tuesday, in the same format, at the same time, with stories, podcasts, and pragmatic insight that can be easily shared. Because great content is the greatest marketing and delivers on the 6 pillars to add value to the lives of your audience.




Today is one of the most important days of my life. It is the day that my amazing wife, and our creative director Casey Jagoras, was brought into this world.  I would be remiss if I did not recognize and honor her today. She is incredibly talented and puts up with my ass.  She is the reason that this email doesn't look like complete trash each week. If you want to give her birthday love, you can send her a message on her Linkedin.

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