10 Secrets to Create Super Viral Content
Did you ever stop to wonder why some content goes viral and other content winds up largely ignored? It’s not easy to create viral content, but it’s not complicated, either. Think of the best way to create viral content as similar to dropping the transmission from a car: It takes some effort and know-how, but the basic mechanics of it are relatively simple.
If you want your content to outperform that ranty blog about Amazon’s latest shenanigans or that ridiculously cute cat video you’ve seen five thousand times on your social media, you need to understand the rules. These ten secrets can help you create viral content that people will want to talk about at parties. Then you can say, “Take that, cat video!”
1. Create unique content.
This sounds simple, but it’s not. Ask anyone who actually has to do it just how easy it is to be unique, when it seems like there’s nothing new under the sun. The first and best way to create viral content is to look at something that’s been done in a way no one’s considered yet.
For example, if everyone’s playing up why that new iPhone app is the greatest thing since sliced bread, you might want to examine some of its pitfalls. People like innovation and want to hear different points of view. This makes an excellent starting point.
2. Play to emotions.
People want to see content that engages them on both an emotional and intellectual level. Smartly written content is great, but the real way to create viral content is to get emotions involved. Write about something controversial. Take an unusual stand on a topic.
Getting a conversation going means page views, which means more engaged readers. Even if the Tweets and Facebook messages look like, “Come see what this idiot said about whatever,” you’ve still achieved the objective ofgetting traffic and drawing potential buyers.
3. Do a humorous video.
There’s nothing wrong with being funny. In fact, a video or article written with humor is a lot more likely to engage visitors. You don’t have to crash into a wall on a skateboard or let the camera document you doing something stupid or unsafe, but funny content and videos create viral content.
For this, you could consider taking a leaf out of TheOatmeal.com’s book. They create viral content by using humor to draw in users to relevant content. Laughter gets attention, and attention creates more traffic and more conversions!
4. There’s nothing wrong with being trendy.
Another secret to create viral content is to find out what’s trending, and write about that. This can help you establish a reputation as someone who has a finger on the pulse and who keeps up to date on trends. A good rule of thumb is to find what’s trending and get it out within an hour of it happening. “How do I do this?” you may ask.
Luckily, the answer is simple: Google Trends. This is a clearinghouse for the top searches on Google in a given day. Knowing this can give you a powerful leg up on your competition, and drive a lot more visitors to your site!
5. Identify your target audience.
If you’re trying to pitch something to grandmothers on Facebook, a skateboard video might not be the best way to go. Likewise, if you want to get teens interested in your content, “10,000 Macrame Projects You Can Do In 10 Minutes Or Less” is probably a topic to avoid. But how do you identify your “ideal” audience?
“Whether you know it or not, your business is hitting a certain demographic.” –Alfonso Santaniello, About.com
Ask questions to determine an “ideal” visitor or customer profile. Some of these might include age, gender, income level, family situation, and even highest level of education. These are helpful guidelines because what appeals to a 24-year-old man who just received an MBA might not be of interest to a 40-year-old woman with a high school diploma.
This “visitor profiling” can help you create viral content with mass appeal to your target demographics.
6. Always choose quality over quantity.
We’re all familiar with the Internet version of KISS: “Keep it short and simple.” When you set out to create viral content, this is not always the best approach. Emphasizing detail is the key here, especially in written format. However, there are a couple of basic guidelines to follow to make sure you get the most mileage out of your content.
Don’t sacrifice detail to achieve an “optimal length” for your post. Some discussions or topics only need 500 words or so, while others may demand a 30,000-word treatment to really delve into all the ins and outs. Be sure to offer counterarguments to show you have given due consideration to all sides, and then give a strong conclusion with reasons why your take on the subject is the one that viewers should be on board with.
7. Tell a story.
Everyone likes a good story, or as Plato put it, “a lie well told.” Of course, the idea is not to lie, but to illustrate an amusing point or deeper truth with a story that may or may not be absolutely, 100% true. If viewers feel like they’re having a real conversation with you, they are more likely to pass on your content to others.
A good way to create viral content is to couch the point you’re trying to make in terms of a narrative. Make it personal. This not only makes you and your content more approachable, but there’s a good chance some of your viewers will say, “That exact same thing happened to me!” Of course, you should always try to be as concise as possible, but as in #6, don’t be afraid to say more if more needs to be said.
8. Be exciting!
One of the cardinal sins people commit when trying to create viral content is forgetting to entertain. Passing on information is all very well and good, but pure information is lifeless, bland, and boring.
If you are writing for an academic journal, this is one thing, but remember you’re writing for the general public. If your content is putting people to sleep, it’s time to take a step back and see if one of these fixes can help.
First, find an original way to convey your message or information. Then apply that in conjunction with your “ideal” viewer, as in #5. Too much information can be just as bad as not enough, so decide just how detailed you really need to be to make your point.
Finally, ask yourself, “Does this content excite or interest me?” If the answer is no, chances are it won’t excite or interest your viewers, either.
9. Participate in the discussion.
Ideally, by now you have a pretty good idea of what it takes to create viral content. The problem is that content won’t go viral if people aren’t sharing. While some content gets shared as a matter of course, you can’t guarantee that. This is where your involvement in the discussion becomes of paramount importance.
Talk to the visitors to your site. This is your chance to convince them of your credentials and authority, as well as to refute any counterarguments or rumors that may arise.
Even better, this makes you more approachable and “real” to readers, and converts visitors into brand ambassadors and viral marketers for you. Never underestimate the power of making friends and fans, because these people will ultimately decide whether or not to share your post!
10. Don’t overload visitors with sharing options.
Everyone wants to see their content go viral. However, asking for visitors to share on every social media network they’ve never heard of is certain to fail. There’s nothing wrong with asking for a retweet on Twitter or posting a Facebook like button for people to click, but that’s as far as you should go. Stick with the tried and true, and don’t try to reinvent the wheel.
Have you managed to create viral content using these or other strategies? What would you suggest to readers? Let us know by leaving a comment below!