What Makes Content Viral and Why You Need to Know This

What Makes Content Go Viral

What would you do to see a blog post or social comment you made spread across the Internet like wildfire? Viral content puts the message in front of thousands upon thousands of people in a very short amount of time. But what makes content go viral in the first place? It depends on your message.

While it’s difficult to determine how to make viral content, there are methods you can put into place to increase the chances. While your post may not be as popular as Grumpy Cat in 2013, you may still reach a very large audience.

Why is Creating Something Viral Important?

Something Viral

Viral content means that a post, image or video has been seen by a large number of people and continues to spread. With each person, the reach for potential consumers grows exponentially.

In many cases, this growth produces more brand awareness than paying for an ad during a prime-time sporting event on television. All it really takes is the perfect combination of elements and your post could be seen by millions.

Unfortunately, no one can guarantee when or how a piece of content could go viral. Too many factors come into play when it comes to sharing on the Internet. However, the following viral content marketing strategies are used by many experts in the field.

While these may not provide an overnight boost of engagement, they will vastly improve the possibility of quickly engaging a lot of people.

By maximizing your efforts to create viral content, you improve the awareness of your brand even if the post doesn’t spread. It’s an optimization practice that will benefit your site regardless of how many shares it gets in social media.

In other words, you don’t have to go viral to benefit from using the following techniques.

Find the Perfect Length

Perfect Length

What is the perfect length of content to create something viral? This depends greatly on three main factors: a) the platform, b) the message and c) the target audience.

You can’t expect a three-minute long video on Twitter to have the same engagement factor as it would on YouTube. Users on various platforms are accustomed to a certain level of absorbing content. For instance, Instagram videos averaging 26 seconds usually receive more comments. However, longer videos on YouTube are very effective.

Some experts attest to how long, text-based content is the most preferred for going viral. Others say how keeping it short and sweet is ideal. In reality, it depends on the message you’re trying to convey. Even a blog post under 1000 words can go worldwide if the message connects with readers.

The purpose behind viral content is to connect with others outside of your target audience. However, the ball begins rolling with those people sharing your posts or images. This means you need to make viral content to impact those fans and followers.

Using Images Results in Shares

Use Images Results in Shares

Images are vastly important when it comes to engaging an audience. In fact, images by themselves account for about 3% of all Google search clicks. Considering how the massive search engine handles more than 40,000 search terms each second, 3% is actually quite a few.

In social media, graphics and video are often the most engaging. For instance, a tweet with an image receives 18% more clicks than one without. And if you make it animated, this jumps up to 167% more than the images.

What does this tell us? It demonstrates that text may be useful, but photos and videos are the most effective to making viral content. Think about the last viral post you saw in Facebook. Was it mere text, or did it have an image or video with it?

Being Emotional Connects with Readers

Being Emotional Connects with Readers

More is involved with connecting with people online than just providing facts. If you can stir an emotional response, it’s easy to push a post to go viral.

Positive emotions are usually the more effective when it comes to social sharing. Funny memes, entertaining images or inspirational messages flood the Internet on a daily basis.

The hardest part is trying to connect with those emotions. After all, what you think of as funny others might not. You’ll have to explore your audience a bit to find out what drives them.

Of course the more relatable the emotional connection is to your product or service, the better. It’s a bit difficult to connect with people with laughter if you sell caskets. But it’s not impossible. It all depends on what your audience will find offensive.

Perhaps one of the most effective methods for engaging emotions is to create something that is awe-inspiring.

Using Lists Gets Visitors’ Attention

Using Lists Gets Visitors' Attention

Lists are some of the most effective types of content on the Internet. They are usually the most shared as well as being the most engaging for website visitors. Simply adding a list of some kind increases the average time people spend on the post by just under 18%.

By nature, most people like to learn – even if it’s something they never considered. This is why list sites like Buzzfeed perform so well when it comes to engaging an audience. And it’s often why sites like this often see a high-return in terms of sharing in social media.

The more detailed and expansive the list is, the more often people may share it. It’s all about delivering information and what the reader is capable of gaining from the post. Even things as silly as “7 Things You Should Never Put in the Microwave” could have a significant impact in share count.

Don’t Forget About Using Infographics

Use Infographics

Humans are a visual species, which is why images and videos perform so well in social media. But let’s take it a step further with making awesome infographics. In a way, it’s like combining the power of an image with the informative nature of a list.

When it comes to engaging traffic, an infographic has potential to increase visitors by 12%. It also inspires people to share the graphic with friends and family in social media.

Perhaps the most difficult part of an infographic is collecting the data to share. You need to find what people are interested in learning. The more unique the information, the better.

I know it’s difficult to find information that isn’t readily available already within today’s Internet. In that case, show it in a new way. What can you do to improve upon a design or show the data to inspire people to share?

Being a Trusted Source Matters

Trusted Source

Trust is vital on the Internet, especially in an age where the term “fake news” is tossed around so frequently. So, what can you do to become a trusted source of information?

First of all, always have a complete and detailed bio. Although this is less important on sites like Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn are more geared for professional use. This means bios are next to mandatory if you want people to share content to go viral.

Always deliver information based on facts. If you can’t cite a source, you may want to second guess the data. Even content that is expertly written and convincing has potential for providing incorrect information. It’s easy to create a blog post stating something that simply isn’t true.

The more trustworthy the brand is, the more likely content is going to be shared.

Connect with Influencers

Connect with Influencers

Influencers are invaluable when it comes to boosting brand awareness as well as driving a post to go viral. This is because he or she is using the power of their own audience to spread your message. It’s reaching an audience you may not have access to, otherwise.

This is different from influencer marketing. Although paid ads from the social celebrity can have lasting effects, having someone retweet or share your original post can have a profound impact on recognition. It’s kind of like the influencer is endorsing the post, which lends to validating your content.

Of course for this to work, you need to find an influencer who appreciates your post. It’s one thing to submit a paid ad, it’s another to put a reputation on the line in regards to sharing a post. This is because there is more of an attachment to sharing rather than a paid slot on something like a YouTube show.

Posting on the Right Day Improves Sharing

Posting on the Right Day Improves Sharing

Finding the right days to post your content to go viral takes a bit of practice. While some experts attest that Tuesday is the best, this isn’t entirely accurate. For one thing, every industry and social platform is different.

Let’s take Instagram, for example. On average, Mondays and Tuesdays often have the highest rate of sharing. However, Wednesdays are often the most effective on Twitter.

Does this mean you need to adhere to that timeline? No. In fact, you might be better off experimenting yourself to find the best days to post shareable content. Your brand and audience are unique. This means you shouldn’t put all of your eggs into the “average” basket of what experts find to be the best days.

While experimenting with the right days may be time-consuming, the ends justify the means. Finding the perfect moment for your own brand on specific platforms will yield far better results.

Something Free Intrigues People

Something Free Intrigues People

One practice that has transcended time and technology for engaging consumers is offering something free. Discounts, giveaways, raffles and more are often points of sharing with the online community. This is especially true if you offer something spectacular and valuable.

But don’t you lose money when you give away free stuff? Yes and no. Sure you have to pay for the items you’re giving away, but the brand awareness and future purchases that come out of the process are often worth the investment.

In some instances, you may even pay less giving away freebies than if you were to run an ad campaign. And the giveaway may be even more productive in terms of getting the attention of consumers.

Remember, it’s not always about the money you’ll make right now. Sometimes boosting future sales is more important as it will help you in the long-term.

Ride the Coattails of Others

Ride the Coattails of Others

In some instances, you can boost your brand by making use of user-generated content. This requires that you pay a bit more attention to your social media accounts, but it has potential to pay off.

For example, sharing a profound comment, video or image by someone else has potential to increase the visibility of your brand as well as the individual. Many will become fans of your business simply because you brought attention to their content.

One of the reasons why a lot of people like user-generated content is because it’s really a time saver. Instead of trying to come up with something awe-inspiring yourself, you can simply retweet or share. However, it would probably mean more if you add your own comment to the content when you share it.

Use Ads with Indirect Selling Methods

Use Ads with Indirect Selling Methods

Can ads be used to create viral content? That depends on how you use them. If you create an indirect advertisement by giving people something they want to see or learn, it can easily sweep across the Internet.

In reality, many brands go the extra mile to create an ad without it feeling like an ad. Most of these businesses will use some kind of entertainment factor.

This is one of the reasons why the Mayhem commercials from Allstate were so popular among many. They delivered a comic representation of real life reasons to have insurance.

Other methods would include ads that don’t really sell anything but connect the brand to the ad. For instance, you could create an ad for a specific post on your website and share why people should read it. It creates awareness while at the same time promoting your business.

Let’s say you own a used car dealership. You could create a blog post on your site detailing the benefits of car insurance and how it can protect drivers. Instead of the ad focusing on selling cars, you would focus on the blog post.

It’s All About Recognition

It's About Recognition

Brand awareness is probably more important today than it was back in the 20th century. Instead of merely having local businesses to contend with, now you have a world of competition. Do what you can to make your business stand out. That next viral post may only be 2000 words away.

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