The word “viral” in relation to a piece of online content implies “circulating rapidly and widely from one web user to another.” Put another way, you want to create quality content that’s intended to be seen by as many people as possible by being shared across social networks and spread like a virus.
If that’s the case, then to achieve virality, you have to first of all, diligently craft your content creator strategy and execute with much attention paid to the details. To a great extent, the quality of the work that you do will determine how far your content gets shared.
Creating high quality unique viral content marketing may not be a takeaway for everyone. It’s quite a difficult task, especially when you’re just starting out. For example, if you’re creating video or visual content, you need to invest in good equipment and sharpen your video editing skills as well. According to a recent study statistics, 48% of businesses find it difficult to create compelling content.
The dream of most marketers is to see their quality content go viral across social networks. Their target is to have thousands; if not millions of people to find the content that they spent a lot of time creating.
Looking at these statistics, the prospect of creating less content and driving more traffic is very attractive. But usually the reverse is the case.
Therefore, you need to learn how to create content that have the possibility of going viral. A lot of factors come into play here, but one of the biggest challenges for many content marketers is the need for a shift in mind-set towards quality valuable content.
Taking a careful look at the anatomy of viral content, therefore you have to bear in mind that the content itself must be of good quality that is worthy of being shared. It should gear at solving a particular problem, enhance your reader’s life, internet experience or make something better. If it can’t accomplish any of these tasks, no one will share it with their social network.
A good example of a post that goes viral is: “What Career Should You Actually Have?” published on Buzzfeed.com in January 2014. As you read this article, the post has over 19,000,000 views and is one of the most viewed posts on the website.
Studying this post that has gone viral carefully; you can see that the content is very educating, easy to read, uses lots of visual content assets and thought provocative. It’s also an interactive content; users can select responses and get tailored results at the end. As anyone on Facebook can testify, quizzes and surveys are an easy route to virality, generates high click to tweet turnover and drive traffic to your website. As a content creator, you should search for similar ways to get the reader involved.
Therefore, if you’re looking for ways get people talking, sharing your post over and over, check out these 12 strategies from the experts themselves.
1. Write Quality Content
The goal of every content writer is to tell a good story and tell it well. Visitors quickly abandon stories with weak content and poor writing.
Start by ensure that your story clearly communicates the five W’s: Who? What? When? Why? Where? This quickly engulfs your reader in the story’s basic premise and why it matters.
As explained in a recent Harvard Business review article, content should accomplish one of a number of tasks: explain what happened, what something means, how to do something or surprise the reader.
2. Evoke high-arousal emotions.
Stories that evoke or arouse emotions tend to draw popularity, according to a 2011 business research study at the University of Pennsylvania.
Content that triggers “high-arousal” emotions easily goes viral online, whether those emotions are negative (like anger or anxiety) or positive (like awe). In general, “positive contents are more viral than negative content.”
When people share emotion arousal content, they’re not just sharing the story; they’re sharing the strong, emotional experience they had. One can’t really fake that!
A study on the subject “What Makes Online Content Viral” by Katherine Milkman and Jonah Berger from the University of Pennsylvania analyzed approximately 7,000 New York Times articles. They noted that, correlated characteristics among viral articles were evoking "high-arousal emotions'' including excitement, awe, or amusement. Contents that leave readers awe-inspired, amused or excited were more likely to be shared than low-arousal content that evoked sadness or contentment.
Interestingly, content evoking negative emotions such as anxiety and anger were also highly shared. Your audience will share content that evokes a passionate emotional response whether positive or negative.
Controversial contents were also among those that drive more popularity and received more share. Taking a clear position and making unabashed statements gives the reader the chance to take a side, and share what resonates with them. Make sure to include stories, adjectives and metaphors.
Viral contents are readable. Your content may have the most ground breaking information, but if it’s not readable it is useless.
The acronym KISS (keep it short and simple) is just as relevant in creating content. Bear in mind that making your content simple does not mean simplifying your content.
You can run your content through a readability test. To appeal to a greater audience, your content should have a reading-comprehension level of a ninth-grader. If your score is too high, you can bring it down by using common and familiar words rather than academic and complex vocabulary. Also watch the amount of words you use per sentence.
If you want to increase the possibility of your content going viral across different social media accounts, break down complex information or ideas into bits, incorporating numerals, infographics, images and/or visual content, the way Buzzfeed does. Make sure your points are easily digestible and people will be more inclined to share your content.
So, how does Buzzfeed simplify content and make it easier to read and share? You’ll notice they generally, frequent the use of numerals in their headlines and infographics, images and/or visual in content. That’s not an accident. Studies have shown that numbers, list, infographics, images and visual posts, generate more clicks and engagement, encouraging people to share on social network.
4. Be Practical & brief
Do you have clear calls to action? Valuable, educational, and practical content is more likely to be shared. Milkman’s and Berger study noted that people enjoy sharing practically useful content for plenty reasons; social exchange (to generate reciprocity), self-development, to help others, etc.
This is why "how-to" articles continue to perform better, and infographics have become much more popular today. Create practical contents; give your readers clear strategies they can immediately apply.
Also, try to make your points faster and keep the reader interested. Experience has teach us that; the sweet spot for posts of curated content is two or three sentences on Google+ and Facebook, 100 characters on Twiter,” and 500 to 1,000 words for created contents.
5. Write irresistible headlines
Headlines are the gateway to a story, your one chance to capture your reader’s curiosity and convince them to keep on reading. Headlines can give a story a smashing success or render it a total flop, even though its content is fantastic.
You can capture your reader’s attention with headlines that;
- The purpose is clearly and concisely stated
- Use intriguing adjectives
- Ease the story and Communicate the value
In other words, tell your readers upfront that you’ll be providing a lot out of your story they could benefit with little effort on their part. (For example, my headline Virality & 12 Top Secret for Creating Viral Content clearly tell readers that they would gain 12 useful secrets that will turn their post viral, Tons of value and so simple.)
6. Be visual
Visual or video contents increase engagement. So pair that compelling headline with a striking visual or video, infographic and image content always.
Studies have revealed that having at least one image or inphographic in a Facebook or Twitter post leads to an average of twice as many shares compared to a post without images. Also, a research study by content marketer Skyword found a similar correlation between images and engagement. Total views of contents or article published with a relevant picture or infographic, increases by approximately 90% compared to articles without an image in the same category.
7. Play the numbers game
The more you post, the greater your likelihood at going viral. Zimmerman, called “the most popular blogger working on the Web today” by the Wall Street Journal, blogged for Gawker until 2014 and routinely drew the most unique visitors to the popular site. In his interview with Hubspot.com, Neetzan Zimmerman says he posts 10 to 15 times per day. He noted that not every of his post post went viral, but that the larger the volume of stories, the greater the possibility of one taking off. And don’t stop once your work is out there. He added, promote it actively on social media and do so repeatedly at different time on different days so you can capture different visitors (audiences).
People will share content with credibility. Trust can be built within content by quoting experts in your field, adding testimonies, and citing statistics and sources. While backing stories up with additional sources gives credibility, personal stories are a great way to build a connection with people.
Quoting a prominent expert can also increase the chances of going viral if they share your work with their audience. Experts enjoy the exposure and often share content when they're featured.
9. Play nice with others
Give credit where it’s due by linking to sources you site in your articles. Links direct traffic back to the source as an act of gratitude; increase your visibility and popularity with bloggers and websites and enabling readers to learn more from the source.
Keep the gratitude flowing after your work is out there. Retweet and thank those who tweet your content, follow them back. Be engaged!!
10. Study your stats
Check out how your stories compare against each other. What works and Why? Pay particular attention to the stories that flopped and think about tweaks that could have made them better. Finally, look at those that are getting more popular, the headline, context, subject and the style. You can use you findings to better you next posts.
11. Publish your content during peak hours.
Just as important as what you post, is when you post. Buzzsumo’s research reviled that the best time and days for your posts to be shared are 11 a.m. ET and on Mondays and Tuesdays. The average blog gets the most traffic around 11 a.m. ET kissmetrics added. With regard to email marketing campaigns, consumer promotion emails are best dish out between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET
Weekends are also a popular time for posting. A good strategy is to publish on Mondays and/or Tuesdays, and then promote your piece again over the weekend.
12. Give the reader a practical takeaway
You’ve written a compelling content with an irresistible headline. Now read over it and be sure that it includes practicals, actionable takeaways.
A key component of contagious content is getting readers to share content with their friends and followers. And since everyone from scientists to journalists, farmers to marketers, high school students to your aunt on Facebook are crafting their online experience, readers or visitors are more likely to share material that they find useful and make them look good.
Going viral and driving traffic is the name of the game, regardless of the industry you're in. The almost goal is to get your product and content to as many people as possible. But the game is unpredictable; the nature of content marketing is fluid and social media algorithms are in flux (changing). However, with all the variables there are still consistent rules for marketing your content online or on social media. Elements of human psychology and behavior are predictable and can be leveraged. Implementing most or all of these bases gives your work the best chance to go viral.