Viral content is the holy grail of digital and social media marketing. But with Facebook users sharing more than 4.75 billion pieces of content daily, it’s increasingly harder to go viral. Ten years ago, a video that scored 500,000 unique hits was considered viral. Today, the same video needs to rack up 5 million views (or likes) within a few days of posting to even make a blip on the radar.
So, what do you want to hear first – the good news, or the good news? (See what we did there? Read our #3 suggestion below for why.) The first piece of good news is that “viral” is subjective. In some industries, a video with 10,000 shares tops the list of most successful content. Rather than trying to beat out the next Adele Carpool Karaoke or Alzheimer’s breakthrough, focus on delivering quality content to your target audience. Understand who they are and what they want.
The second “happy fact” is that there’s a formula to making shareable content. Follow our five tips to get started on the road to Viral-ville.
- Stay Relevant
Social media and content should feel new, fresh and relevant. Follow trending topics and news articles to determine what to write about. The more interaction you see between users and content, the better.
Once you determine the subject of your content, it’s time to engage the reader. “Good viral content should make someone laugh hysterically, feel excited or fascinated, or even teach them something,” says Mackenzie Drolshagen, social media coordinator here at Commit Agency. Not surprisingly, 72 percent of marketers say that developing relevant content is crucial for SEO.
- Get Emotional
Sometimes, it’s not enough to make your content useful or funny; you must stir their emotions. People love to share heartwarming stories, especially unexpected ones. Case in point: This story about one man’s response to a youngster who called him “old” garnered 1.5 MILLION Facebook shares. “To make your content viral, it should go against a common belief that would stir up strong emotions…” notes Commit Social Media Manager Nick Christensen. “If your content can trigger an emotional response, viral status could very well be just around the corner.”
- Keep It Positive (KIP)
In my 15 years as a working journalist, I was often encouraged to put a negative spin on news and blog articles. One editor asked me to “sh*t” on a local festival rather than report it fairly. I was cursed at, sent email nastygrams and banned from attending events as a result – all because “negative news sells.”
Turns out they were wrong, at least where viral content is concerned. A 2011 study of viral news content conducted by Jonah Berger found that positive content is more likely to be shared. Stop dissing and dissecting, and focus on sharing amazing, upbeat news that’ll educate, inform and/or delight readers.
- Make Audience Digestion Easy (MADE)
The Internet functions similarly to the gut. Eat easy-to-digest foods like yogurt or oatmeal and your digestive system will function like a champ – increasing your metabolism and allowing you to process foods quickly and easily. The goal with web content is also digestion. You want readers to absorb and digest as much information as possible in the quickest amount of time.
How do we do that? With fun, short, relevant video content. According to Insivia, 55 percent of readers watch online videos daily. Mention the word “video” in an email subject and you’ll get 20 percent more opens. Video is dominating the Net right now, so up your visual content game, and your material will have a better chance of going viral.
- Encourage Sharing
Now that an audience member has read (and presumably enjoyed) your content, you want them to shout it from the rooftops. The digital rooftops, at least. Sharing your awesome blog content on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram should be as easy as clicking a button. Consider posting a “sticky share” on your site so that the buttons are in easy reach, no matter where your reader is on the page.
The idea is to spread your blog, video or article content organically and systematically — much like the zombie viruses in 28 Days Later, World War Z and The Walking Dead. You share an amazing cat video with your friends and family. If it’s relevant, useful or entertaining enough, they pass it on.
If you take away only one thing from this blog, remember this: Quality, Quality, Quality. The better your content is, the higher likelihood it will go viral.