Now! Moonlight Your Way to Viral Content
This is the content consumer era. We are all consuming more and more content, in various forms. Researches confirm that US adults consume about 10h of media content daily and millennials can reach 18h a day consuming content.
Hence, the need of high quality, engaging content rises sharply. Content creators are striving to conceive helpful, attention grabbing and delightful pieces. And, of course, all content creators dream of producing viral content marketing.
But finally, what does viral content mean?
Is there a recipe or a procedure that can guarantee virality?
Well, not quite.
I subscribe to Lori Taylor’s opinion “Going viral is not an outcome; it’s a happening. Sometimes it happens; sometimes it doesn’t. Just remember, fans are vanity and sales are sanity.” We can make all the efforts to influence and help a piece of content go viral, but we, the writers, cannot control it. It’s the public decision, they will share it or not. They will make it viral or not.
We can just prepare the premises, push somehow a piece of content to become viral, but guaranteeing virality is beyond our powers. Anyway, we can certainly try.
Let’s dive in and decode the shareworthy content features.
First, let’s depict what do that viral means. Millions of shares, hundreds of thousands?
It highly depends on your industry and niche. You cannot expect to have share scores like the Kardashians or like large interest niches as weight loss, if you are in a highly specialized niche such as mechanical engineering.
So, chill out and breath!
Identify what viral means in your context
At a first glance, a viral content definition is having millions of views or shares.
Thus, depending on niche and industry the variation is quite large.
The global viral refers to millions of shares. In this category, viral content examples are the most famous songs or books. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is such an example. Celine Dion’s “My heart will go on” or more recently Adele’s “Hello”.
The niche-specific viral is more mundane and relates to a much smaller, specific niche. In general, several hundred shares, means viral in this context.
Most probably you find yourself acting in a niche, so it doesn’t make sense to report to a global audience, but to a targeted one.
Hence the purpose of becoming viral is to obtain more than 500-700 shares for your niched blogs, articles, etc. And that’s the purpose of this article.
So, how do you achieve that?
Now, that we have established the definition of viral content in your case, let’ fix the other details:
Who are the persons that should share your content?
Obviously, your target audience and buyer personas. That’s indeed your first goal.
In the algorithm of content sharing besides your target audience a primary role will be played by influencers in your niche.
Besides starting to promote your content from the very first moment, counting on influencers’ help can offer your content a significant boost.
As you probably know, great content is 20% creation and 80% promotion, so virality relies heavily on promotion. Don’t be passive, spread the word yourself from the beginning and get help!
To get the attention and the benevolence of influencers your need to offer them a strong reason to share your content, except great quality content.
The equation of the viral content starts with a solid base – excellent quality combined with emotional triggers. Emotions are the driving factor that makes a piece of content likeable and shareable.
So, infuse your content with emotions, if possible.
Consider executing some of the following elements, if not all of them, if you want to insure your content has the premises to go viral:
Chase for Viral Topics
To improve your chances of virality, do your homework and search for trending topics at the moment you are creating your content.
BuzzSumo is usually a fist stop to find trending topics and engagement they are receiving. Insert keywords for your niche and check up on results.
You can start from these ideas and create your own potentially viral posts.
Another tool that can guide you in finding topics that have high virality potential is Google Trends. It also helps you discover supplementary insights like which keywords related to your niche are trending and shows you related terms to support idea generation.
For viral topics you can also check Reddit, since upvotes of the community can show trending topics that may become viral. Verify subreddits of your niche, if there are, and see which subjects get votes.
Even if actual trending topics do not relate to you niche, you can search for creative ways to leverage on their popularity. Think of business articles published to teach some tricks based on popular tv shows.
Take Into Consideration Content Types That Proved to Be Successful
Among successful content types we count: how to, list, infographic, comparison, case study, interview, review.
Using a popular content type is just a detail, not a guarantee of success. What will go a long way to a viral post is approaching a subject from a unique angle, a different point of view and infuse relevant supplementary information. The differentiation element in an extremely crowded blogosphere is a must.
Even if it is proved with numbers that long format content pieces perform better it is not, the length or the format that will make a piece of content stand out, it’s the outcome. It’s the value delivered, extra insights, better tips, different approach that generates engagement.
And engagement is the trigger of virality, activates shares, likes, links, traffic and revenue.
Write Valuable Content That Teaches
Content pieces that passed the time test, that got tons of views, shares and likes are those that provide intrinsic value to the reader.
Most of times they are comprehensive, long articles that deliver a sort of knowledge to the reader and teach him something. How-to, tutorials, DIY articles, that the reader finds useful for his purposes.
Find Gaps, Improve and Go Viral
Let’s be honest, no matter what topic you want to write about is already fully covered by other dozens or even hundreds of similar posts. Trying to find virgin territories to explore is clearly dead end.
Ok, and now what?
The only solution is to come up with a different point of view, create more comprehensive content or an upgraded type of content that’s more attractive to outperform existing sources.
Backlinko’s founder Brian Dean used such an approach by creating the Skyscraper method. This technique means identifying viral content in your niche, conceiving a better version and outreaching sites that were linked to other less complete articles to backlink to your new, more comprehensive article.
Essentially this is what Brian did for his by now famous in the niche “Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List” and generated more than 300,000 visitors to his site.
Stick to the Pain Points of Your Audience
Most of the time people are looking for solutions to their current problems, offering solutions gets you their attention. So, offer solutions to your buyer personas problems. Provide relevant solutions and you will become relevant in your audiences’ eyes.
Search and find out which are the struggles of your audience. They are your opportunity to create great content that is useful and in demand.
Help your readers realize that you were just like them, you are one of them, you passed through the same problems and you succeeded to overcome them. You provide proved solutions from your own experience.
Show empathy for your audience and share your knowledge for those that are still struggling with those type of issues.
The Power Is in the Story
Stories are integral part of our lives, as Jonathan Gottschall said “We are, as a species, addicted to story. Even when body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories”.
Since the humanity is literally in love with storytelling, use it in your content. Convey a story, from a nagging issue to a reliable solution. Take readers on a journey, use substantial examples, create anticipation to make them enjoy your content.
Use your personal stories and struggles to differentiate yourself. Be authentic and you will resonate better with your audience.
Here is a viral content example: the story of Joe Morow. It’s the story and the emotions transmitted by the article that generated 1 million views, but it hides a tragedy.
Count on Emotions
Jonah Berger, after studying 7000 articles of The Wall Street Journal, concluded that the leading driver of viral content are emotions. It’s not the topics that impact virality, but the extreme emotions.
Articles that provoked anger were shared more than the articles that provoked sadness. Articles that generated astonishment received more shares than those generating contentment.
When crafting content, take into consideration infusing extreme emotions, if applicable. The above-mentioned article of Jon Morrow telling his story is such an example. A guy suffered a terrible accident, he is paralysed and tied in a wheelchair and succeeds to be one of the best bloggers in the world. Wow!
Even if your niche is not exactly an emotional one, you can get creative and invent some emotional activities, like the blend manufacturer BlendTec did with blending human skeleton. And it generated millions of views on YouTube. Well done!
Use the Tone of a Personal Conversation
Your interlocutor, while writing an article, is your ideal buyer persona. Even if we are speaking about visitors, readers, audience, our target is in fact our ideal customer.
Strive to conceive your writing as a personal conversation, a one-to-one discussion with your ideal buyer persona. It’s the best way to connect with your reader, if you speak directly to him and relate to his particular problems and struggles.
Hence, while crafting your content, target one persona and one problem in your “virtual conversation”.
Stellar Design and Visuals
Most of us are visual creatures and visual learners, that’s no secret. People remember up to 65% of the visual content they consumed, after three days. 41,5% of marketers sustain infographics and original designs perform best.
In conclusion, using high quality imagery and original visuals in your content is an absolute must.
Anyway, you may choose to use infographics or not. The idea is you have to make efforts and conceive top quality photos and imagery for your content. Not all of us are experts in photography, so read tutorials and use editing software like Photoshop, Canva, LightRoom, PicMonkey to improve the images quality.
Also, there are thousands of options proposing high quality stock images, free and paid, you just have to pick. Pixabay, Unsplash, Shutterstock or small stylish collections like Elledrouin or Pixistock
Search Engine Optimization
Indeed, you create content for your audience, not for search engines. But, in order for your audience to find your content, a search engine will be used. Thus, you have to ensure your content is search engine friendly.
A key ingredient that cannot be missed, if you want your post to go viral is optimization. Follow the rules of current SEO best practices.
Make sure your keywords are placed in your title, in the URL, in the first 100 words of the post and in other places inside the post, including synonyms.
The headline makes and brakes the virality of a piece of content. I doubt I am wrong saying that. It’s the foundation that plays in your favour or against you. Pay great attention to your title for shareability and virality. Make it self-explanatory and attention grabbing and as interesting as you can. Test your title with a tool like CoSchedule Analyzer to help you improve the enticement of your title.
Format for Readability
With everyone being extremely busy nowadays, time is a rare resource, so make your content as easy as possible to digest.
Take care with formatting, font type and size and content spacing, use small paragraphs. Include photos, screenshots and images to split large blocks of text, bullets and lists. Stick to common language and simple phrase syntax.
Pay attention to colours you choose in order to maintain text readability, use contrasting colours to avoid difficulties while reading.
Create Content Upgrades
To give your content a supplementary boost towards virality offer your readers content upgrades. Content upgrades are those “extras” offered to visitors that provide supplementary value and can be downloaded instantly.
Content upgrades are great “hooks” that make your post shareable and visitors return.
Of course, your upgrade should be related to your topic and might take the form of a checklist, cheatsheet, workbook, ebook, course, template, case study, guide, worksheet, etc.
Content upgrades are important not only because of the added value they provide, but because they give you a hand with building your list of subscribers.
Make Sharing a Breeze
Having many other persons sharing your content is a huge step to virality. To help this happen you should have social buttons displayed in visible places to encourage readers to click on them.
There are tens of apps and plug-ins available to accomplish this job. Test and use the one you find most appropriate.
I think Sumo is a great option (it is responsible for the sidebar sharing buttons you can observe on your left). TweetDis can add an extra to your site helping you to convert interesting phrases into tweets.
Remember the first rule of success is promotion. Creating great content is just 20% of the work, the rest is spreading the word. Sharing your content on social media, with your email list and attracting influencers to promote you, are the key ingredients.
Social Media is a powerful pillar of your promotion strategy and will have a heavy impact on helping your content go viral. Identify the social media networks where your audience hang out and use them intensively: Pinterest, Facebok, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.
Be consistent and share your posts continuously, sharing them just once and hope for the best will simply not work. Use social media management tools to schedule your social media posts and minimize the time spent on this kind of tasks.
Applications like Broadbooster, Tailwind (for Pinterest), Later (Instagram) and Hootsuite, Buffer, SproutSocial (various channels) will make social media sharing and publishing a breeze.
To make your posts viral on social channels make sure your related Pinterest pins respect the best practices for Pinterest, Twitter tweets also, Instagram post likewise etc.
Encourage Influencers to Share Your Content
You write content for your ideal buyer persona, but also for influencers. And more than sure you are already doing this, whether you are aware of it or not.
You include outbound links in your content, you incorporate other resources, influencers’ content in your posts. So, you have already involved influencers in this process.
In general, influencers like their multipliers and people that share their content and sometimes they may return the favour. And that’s how you gain a huge exposure.
To help your content go viral you must network with influencers and create connections. Connect with them on social media, follow them, share their masterpieces, comment on their posts, backlink to their content, give them credit for their valuable advice.
Write posts where you explain how successful your actions were, while using influencers strategies, tips and tricks. Interview your favourites influencers or make round-ups with experts on certain topics of interest.
For supplementary insights on how to make influencers share your content check “How to Find Influencers Who Already Want to Share and Link to Your Content“
Now you have the draft to help you craft viral content and your skills will improve with practice.
Keep practising and testing new things! Be inventive and innovative if possible.
Mastering virality is an art, sometimes works better, sometimes it simply doesn’t work at all. But do not renounce!