The Internet is full of articles and research of all kinds, which try to explain what makes the content viral. What you can confidently say is that the content goes viral if it can make people feel the urge to share it with their friends and followers.
In this post, you will find some not-so-common, yet very important tips on how to add more chances for your content to go viral.
Sharing content online is an inherent part of modern life. Every second around 6,000 tweets appear on Twitter only. And every tweet has something to share – that’s the intent of Twitter.
So what makes people share a piece?
The answer is quite simple, yet it may be surprising for someone:
People share content to create a better image of themselves in the eyes of their following.
People will share anything that makes them look good (smart, valuable, caring, funny) in front of others.
I’m a firm believer that creating viral content is a hit-and-miss. Even monster companies like Google have failed quite frequently in their attempts to create something viral.
The following tips will add more chances for your content to go viral. The tips I want to share with you will not solve all your problems in an instant. It’s not the magic potion. There are lots of other factors, including luck. But ignoring these simple tips will deliberately prevent your content from going viral.
1. Find Proven Ideas
First of all, you need ideas.
In no way I’m questioning your ability to stand up with your own outstanding idea, which, in your opinion, deserves to go viral. If you are able to keep on generating such ideas, I bow my head to you. And I’d really love to hear your ideas. You can share them in the comments to this post if you will.
What I suggest is that you do research on what ideas tend to go viral and what already become extremely popular. Find topics and ideas, which already spread like hell by word of mouth and build on top of them.
For this purpose, you can use a powerful tool by Ahrefs called Content Explorer. With it you can find the most popular content, shared in different Social Networks. Just type in the keywords or phrases, which came to your mind, into the tool’s search field and play with some variations.
You will see that some topics get shared a lot, while other perform quite poorly. Hundreds and thousands of Tweets and Facebook shares are what you’re looking for.
With this tool, you will always find an idea for your content, which may go viral.
But never descend to stealing!
2. May Your Headlines Alone Be Viral
Say, you shared your blog post on Twitter. Your headline will be the only thing to grab the attention of your followers. There are only 2 scenarios: post headline will either instantly motivate a person to click through and check the article, or your tweet will be ignored. If ignored, the content will never go viral.
If you have an awesome, catchy blog post headline, some people will retweet it even before reading the article itself – just because they liked your headline that much.
You can find tons of advice on writing awesome, selling, and viral headlines for your content.
3. Write Catchy Intros
Some people will share your article just because of your headline. That’s true. But most of them will have to at least start reading your article to understand that this piece is really amazing and worth sharing.
When you catch your reader on the hook of your headline you have to keep his or her attention with the intro of your post.
If your content is awesome, but the intro is a fail, forget about getting viral.
Here are some proven tips that work well in intros:
- Add an interesting fact or stats (adds authority to your content)
- Ask a question (to let people find the answer in your content)
- Appeal to human feelings from the very beginning
- Explain the practical value of your article and how it will help
- Put part of your conclusion into the intro
- Start with a quote (that’s a literature classic)
- Start with a joke or anecdote (this may be a thin ice ▲)
There are WordPress plugins like Yoast and Coschedule allowing you to adjust your intros and headlines as you are writing.
4. Make Sure Your Content Has Practical Utility
If you create content not solely to entertain your audience (which alone is a great way to get viral), your content must be helpful in some way (in many ways is perfect).
Remember what I told you about at the beginning of this post?
People share content to show how they are good. So the ideal viral content shall result in a share with a comment like “Look what I just found!”
When your reader benefits from what he’s reading, he will share this useful knowledge with his friends. This will make him look like a “wise uncle” who has some good advice for his “nephews”. And his followers will occasionally check his Social Network page for new awesome and practical stuff.
5. Add More Contagion Ways With Micro-Content
Micro-content is a small chunk of content exposed on the page, like titles, headlines, excerpts, and visuals, which can be scanned fast and does not require reading the whole piece. You look at it at get the message instantly.
One of the main benefits of micro-content is that you can make it easily shareable.
For example, a regular blog post has only one way to be shared: via a set of share buttons on the page. And micro-content may be be shared alone from the whole post, yet bring traffic to the page, where it is embedded.
Let me show you some examples of micro-content:
- Infographic, picture
- Visual quote
- Animated gif
- Sound bite
- Tweetable quote
You can create all of these types of micro-content and use tools like Milkshake to consolidate all these efforts.
I’d recommend you to look closely at Tweetable Quotes and Soundbites. They are growing quite popular today, although emerged several years ago.
A tweetable quote is a short fragment of your text, which can be tweeted at an instant apart from the whole article. The most important point here is that the text of such a tweet has a link to the article itself.
So when anyone on Twitter sees an intriguing tweet with your quote, he naturally wonders “Where does it come from and what is it related to?” He will click the link and get to your page.
There are several ways you can create tweetable quotes on your pages: manual (with some HTML effort) or using plugins (if your site is WordPress-powered).
The best tool for this purpose so far is TweetDis plugin for WordPress.
With it, you can create tweetable quote boxes, tweetable plain text, and even tweetable images. Here are some fine examples of what you can make:
6. Don’t Be Shy to Ask Your Readers to Share!
Adding social media buttons to your content is the first step. You’d be surprised to know how many people will share your post if you just ask them to. But you can go an extra step and give them a reason to share your content. With a reason, you will get even more shares!
An outstanding book by Robert Cialdini “Influence” describes an amazing experiment, where one girl asked to cut in line to use a copy machine:
“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” – this basic request made 60% of people say “OK”.
“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?” – 94% of people said “OK” to that, which clearly illustrates the power of “giving someone a clear reason”.
And now the best part:
“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?” – is that a good reason?! And yet 93% of people said “OK”.
It seems like no matter what the reason is, as long as there is a reason – you get a much better chance of getting your content shared.
All these six tips may seem lightweight. But even if your content is amazing, it will not get viral if you don’t help it to! Remember that today content marketing is really a question of marketing your content.
Consider these tips to help your content hit the masses and go viral. Creating popular content and promoting it is an ongoing process, hard and consistent work you have to do.