There’s no denying that when content “goes viral” it can do amazing things for the marketing of a company, organization, or brand. This is one occasion when, “They took our server down!” is a great thing to hear screamed across the hall.
I’m sure that when I talk about viral content, the most common thing that comes to mind is viral videos. Yet, any content can go viral—videos sure, but also an audio or a picture, blog post or article, even a press release. Generally, if you can build it and get the audience to see it, share it, and it spreads, it can become viral.
But, make no mistake, there is no single formula for creating viral content.
However, there are ways to increase the ‘virility’ of content—or the likelihood it’s shared far and wide.
First, it’s important to understand what makes compelling content—content that people connect with to such an extent that they have to share it with others in their networks.
Compelling content needs to have a ‘hook.’ The hook is exactly as it sounds—something that hooks the reader in and makes them think or feel something. How do you figure that out? Here are some ideas and tips for deciding on the hook:
- What is happening in the news?
- What is trending on social media? What are your friends sharing? Their networks? (Go deep-diving; look at what shows up in your timeline or feed, what appears in the timelines and feeds of your friends; and what appears in the timelines and feeds of your target market and potential customers.)
- What is making a splash in music or the movies? Why?
- What are your networks talking about in person—you know, when people actually get together face to face? What do they care about right now?
The key to all these, however, is that just these answers themselves aren’t your hook. Instead, rather, you need to consider how these things are making people feel. And don’t be afraid to play it a little un-safe. But hold on… By that, I’m not talking about anything that is going to put your business or brand in jeopardy.
What I mean is don’t be afraid to go a little ‘out there’ and make a statement of some kind—even if while publicly and openly not agreeing with the statement you’re making.
People don’t share the mundane – they share something that makes them think and react emotionally to something—good or bad. Summarily, it must move them into action. It has to take them FROM sitting at their computer and just seeing it to believing that the people they care about – in their sphere of influence – will want to see it too… Which is the perfect transition to the next step in creating content with at least a decent chance of going viral.
Next, you need to consider why those who your content is shared with, would also want to pass it along—to everyone they know.
The next level of virility is a little trickier. See, it’s not too difficult to get your networks to care about what you’re sharing. After all, they like you. Often, they care about what you care about – at least to an extent – so it’s not surprising that they would be moved by what moves you, and also want to share it. Yet, that’s not (even hardly) enough.
This is likely a very good time to explain how content ‘grabs’ and takes hold—what going viral really means.
For content to go viral, it must get to a point where the growth – and sharing – becomes exponential. So, it’s not just when your networks share your content or even when theirs does. Maybe not even when theirs does.
Scientific Magazine even did a study that can be found at https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-secret-to-online-success-what-makes-content-go-viral/ to explore what makes content go viral. For personal content, they found it was that which elicited happy emotions. For business content to go viral, on the other hand, it needed to be somewhat controversial and possibly even induce amusement or anger—strong feelings – so that it’s attractive to the masses.
In other words, to get to the exponential sharing stage, the ante had to be upped. Thus, critical is creating content that is not ‘too much’ for your personal networks to feel comfortable sharing but ‘enough’ for others – sometimes way down the line – to keep the sharing going.
Finally, it’s important to make sure your content can be shared easily—or else it will ‘go’ nowhere.
Oddly enough, this is the one step many skip or forget. This is unwise because it’s critical. For content to go viral, it must be easy to share and not lose its message, branding, or imagery as it’s passed along. There’s nothing worse than creating content that does go viral, and no one knows who created it!
Fortunately, this is the easiest step. All you need to do is the following:
- Be sure your brand is on any images or a part of any videos.
- Make sure there is a way for people to contact you, embedded in your content somehow.
- Ensure content you wish to be shared (and shared and shared and shared), is public. There shouldn’t be any controllable obstacles to sharing for sure.
- BONUS: Give some incentive for people to share the content – such as a reciprocal tweet or shout out—especially in the beginning stages when your content is trying to gain traction.
Again, there is no magic formula for creating content that WILL go viral. On the other hand, if you follow the steps, tips, and suggestions above, you stand a shot. And that’s really the best you can do—and then keep trying!