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How to Make Content Viral in Post-Clickbait Era

While journalism professors teach objectivity and ethics at J-schools, many bloggers, content marketers, and citizen journalists depend on emotional content and click baits to increase traffic. While objectivity in reporting is the heart of credible journalism and being ethical is the soul, articles with such characteristics hardly get viral. Clickbait titles often work better in creating a viral effect.

The great news is, click baits have started to dissipate thanks to anti-clickbait armies, including those working hard at Google and Facebook. Also, readers have become more educated in discerning all sorts of fishy content, including click baits and fake news. They’re getting more confident in spotting and skipping titles that don’t state what it’s actually about.

We all support clearing the garbage out the Internet, of course, and are happy for our own reading maturity. Titles like this “Eating apples is bad for you?” no longer sparks that much curiosity now, as we’ve been “cheated” so many times. We found out the hard way –after reading thoroughly for 3 to 10 minutes or so– that this article meant that eating apples are bad for you if you eat too many of them in one day. No reader wants to feel cheated.

As the Internet is maturing, content quality is expected to get better as well. Google has promised to increase more relevant search results that are both spam-free and useful. With continuously updated algorithms, we can safely say that, someday, all search results will be as squeaky clean as possible.

Facebook has also promised to get rid of fake news and has implemented stronger anti-clickbait algorithms. In their blog, Facebook data scientist Alex Peysakhovich and user experience researcher Kristin Hendrix wrote, “Pages should avoid headlines that withhold information required to understand what the content of the article is, and headlines that exaggerate the article to create misleading expectations.”

Peysakhovich and Hendrix added an example, “He Put Garlic In His Shoes Before Going To Bed And What Happens Next Is Hard To Believe.” They further added, “These are headlines that intentionally leave out crucial information, forcing people to click to find out the answer.” (Source: FB blog)

Now, how can we make content viral? Good question.

First, go for quality

My mother said, “Quality speaks for itself.” You can’t lie with quality. Find an angle that works for you and the readers. Choose an issue that hasn’t been brought up before. Put a new twist on it; take a stand and defend it. Depending on the topics, an article can include criticism, controversy, analysis, steps, lists, Q and As, or stories. Use high-level thinking to make the article more authoritative.

Second, go for popularity

Popularity almost always works, as long as the market hasn’t been saturated. You can write about evergreen things, like relationships, making money, love, motivation, inspiration, success stories, cute stuff, and other things that evoke emotions. Just browse the best-selling book lists and top blogs to find the topics people truly love to read.

Third, go for positive and melancholic emotions

These two are very powerful emotions. LittleThings, Viral Nova, and The Dodo are to mention a few online media that entice readers with feelings of awe, wonder, and excitement for huge virality effect. Interestingly, many Thought Catalog articles also went viral, mostly for making the readers feeling melancholic.

An article published in the Harvard Business Review titled “The Emotional Combinations that Make Stories Go Viral” by Kerry Jones, Kelsey Libert, and Kristin Tynski confirms that emotions that increase the chance of virality are valence (positivity or negativity), arousal (excitement to relaxation), and dominance (submission to in control). And positive ones work better than negative ones. (Source: HBR)

Fourth, locate pre-viral content

Use Almighty.Press, which is developed with algorithms solely for locating viral content before they even go viral.

It’s like having a time machine to go to the past so that you can pick out stories with virality qualities. Imagine that.

With this app, you can literally search for any keyword or phrase to find highly engaging content within the last 15 minutes or more. The engagement filter allows you to find content within a range, which comes in handy when you’re looking for emerging viral content to curate or rewrite.

In conclusion, the post-clickbait Internet is a better and much cleaner place for all. However, for content creators, creating viral content, this era comes with more challenges and requires more ingenuity and thoughtfulness. Combining creativity with a reliable app to find pre-viral trending content is the answer.

Jennifer Xue is an award-winning author, columnist, and serial entrepreneur. She has published 2,000 articles and 100 e-books/reports with proven record in brand awareness, lead generation, and revenue increase. She can be reached at JenniferXue.com. Follow her Twitter @jenxuewrites

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