If you own a social media account, like Facebook or Twitter, you probably have shared or received viral contents. A piece of content is considered “viral” when it has been shared thousands or even millions of times. Some viral pieces are lengthy and authoritative, while others are short, sweet, and succinct. Either way, they are valuable and worthy to be read and shared.
Now, what makes a piece of content viral?
There are many factors that come together to make them so. Moreover, one of the most important factors is shifting the marketer’s mindset from producing regular pieces of content to producing contagious pieces of content every single time. The term “contagious content” itself was made popular by a Wharton marketing researcher named Jonah Berger.
According to a 2015 study published in The Scientific American, which was co-written by Liz Reese-Jones, Katherine Milkman, and Jonah Berger, there are three factors of a piece of contagious content: evoke emotion, positive message, and practically useful content. Positive emotions and positive messages are likely to cause virality than other types of emotion. Also, content with practical use that solves problems has a higher chance to be viral.
The following are eleven indispensable strategies and tools that you can adopt for creating contagious viral content.
1. Communicate clearly to the target audience
Clarity of the message is the first thing that readers would notice in a piece of content. Use the most appropriate writing style to speak to the target audience personas to begin with. In other words, use the language and terms they understand without having to refer to the dictionary.
Most people read at Grade 8 level or slightly lower, so you want to write as clearly and as concisely as possible. To find out the grade level of content, use Flesch–Kincaid readability apps like Readable.io and Hemingway app.
2. Find timely and trending topics
Locate trending topics with Google Trends and social media. Once you’ve found those trending topics, you can create contents inspired by them. Include the corresponding hashtags, to make them easier to find.
3. Curate pre-viral content
While writing the already trending topics may bring in some traffic, it doesn’t beat the ability to notice pre-viral content. These are highly-engaging stories before they go viral. If you can find them early, you have the upper hand over those who write about them later.
Almighty.Press uses specific algorithm to find trending stories at the very early stages of their growth, long before the Internet becomes saturated of them. Use keywords to search for historical posts with a high level of engagement and identify viral stories before they become viral.
4. Use native format for each platform
When creating content for blogs and social media, always use their optimized native format for articles, text-based statuses, still images, and videos. Hubspot has a cheat sheet of the image sizes of all popular social media networks. For blog writing, follow the rules of inbound marketing provided by Hubspot Academy, to ensure that your blog posts receive the inbound traffic they deserve.
5. Use advanced tools and analytics to find the SEO and longtail keywords
According to Statista, focusing 50 percent on longtail keywords would generate considerably more traffic. By “longtail,” it means 3 to 4 keywords per search term. Serious searchers always use longtail keywords, so make sure your content includes them.
6. Reach out to influential people and followers
Reaching out to people adds some human factor to your stories. Mention influencers and followers in your stories or social media posts. Link them, hashtag them, and mention their names naturally, so you appear as a friendly and approachable real human, not a robot. People prefer to share posts that come from humans, which explains why influencers like Neil Patel always write and post under their own names instead of their companies.
7. Schedule for peak times
Use apps like Buffer and Iconosquare to schedule posts during peak times. Post several times per day per social media account for optimized results. The logic is, when you post on peak time, your post has a better chance to going viral because more people read them.
8. Create enticing headlines and test them
Use various headline generators, like Portent’s Content Idea Generator for funking titles, BlogAbout Title Generator, Hubspot Blog Topic Generator, and TweakYourBiz Title Generator to create headlines that are friendly to search engines and attractive to humans.
9. Use CTA
Tell people what you want them to do after reading the content. Include “Please RT” in a tweet and “Share this story with your friends” or “Subscribe to get notified of new articles” after a blog post. A call-to-action (CTA) is often overlooked and seen as unnecessary. However, according to MarketingLand, CTAs significantly boost conversion and shares. Subconsciously, the human mind is influenced by the written words. When you ask, they’d do.
10. Ensure the content is easy to share
Many high-traffic and authority blogs have attractive and extra large share buttons. They serve a real purpose: making their content very easy to share. Include eye-catching share buttons on every blog post and page. Sumo and Elegant Theme’s Monarch have two of the best social media sharing buttons.
11. Ensure the content has a practical use and doesn’t project a negative image when shared
This last tip is more psychological and subjective than technical. In a nutshell, the content must provide a practical use by solving a problem or problems, and it makes the person who shares feels good for sharing it. It must make the person who shares it looks smart or caring.
At last, practice makes perfect. Create content, rinse and repeat. The more you practice viral content creation, the more viral your content would become. The sooner you recognize pre-viral content, the more likely your viral content would dominate the Internet.