Have you ever thought about what makes a piece of content go viral? I mean, think about it. Sometimes you spend hours creating content you know is going to do really well only to receive a lukewarm response which leaves you scratching your head. On a different occasion, you see something going viral on social media that is very similar and not even half as good (in your opinion).
And lets not even start on the cat videos, or the baby videos that go viral. For the purposes of this article we are not going to look at something going big by fluke or just for fun. We are looking into how you can deliberately create business content that reaches a big audience and puts your business on the map.
According to the Inc. magazine, the biggest reasons why people share content are as follows: they want to educate, entertain, and share content that is a reflection of who they are. Also because they want to support the causes they believe in and learn more about their friends.
Keeping this in mind, let’s see how we can do this in a practical sense.
Write a variety of posts
#1 Write a list post
You can’t go wrong with a list post – when it is done right.
How many times have you been lured by the title of a list post to be disappointed by the content? Create list posts by all means but make them count, and make them a part of your content strategy.
Don’t rely only on them. There are other types of posts that work just as well.
#2 Create an in-depth how-to post
Have you created a tutorial? Create a blog post where you take your audience by the hand and teach them step by step of accomplishing a certain desk.
Include step by step photos if possible and don’t assume anything. The best how-to posts cater to the needs to a beginner audience and never hurts anyone who is a bit more advanced. Avoid using jargon and geek speak.
#3 Write a ‘showcase’ post
This works really well if you are in an industry that is very visual such as design, home décor, art, food, fashion, etc.
Create a post where you bring other people’s creations under the spotlight. These kinds of posts are require a lot of time to do the research and emphasis is on the visual element. You don’t need to offer full blown commentary. Let the pictures do the talking.
You can also curate selected content that is not visual. Depending on your topic or industry this could be anything that will catch the eye of your ideal reader.
#4 Write long-form content
This post requires a lot of research if you are tackling a new topic but not as much if the topic falls under your area of expertise.
This content usually starts at 2,000 words and can be epic enough to be 10,000 words long. This piece of content is highly shareable just by the virtue of work that goes into creating it. However, do know that this one is bound to be bookmarked far more than consumed. But who is complaining, right?
#5 Document a rags-to-riches story
Who doesn’t love a rags-to-riches story? If you have a story to tell which is your own, even better. Take people on a journey. Show them what’s possible. Make use of all of your story-telling skills here because this is what makes it a winner.
#6 Be a case study for a popular brand
This one is interesting and you can’t fake it. Have you used a product or a service for a brand and saw great results? Fantastic. I bet the seller would love to know and feature you on their site.
Go ahead and write the best post you can on your experience and the kind of results you got. Don’t hold back on the details and then send them an email letting them know that you will publish it soon. You can count on them to share this post and sending big traffic your way. I mean, who doesn’t want to feel appreciated like you have made them feel? Good job.
#7 Write an interview post
Choose a topic that is close to your heart, and preferably hasn’t been done to death already.
Get in touch with the influencers and the up-and-comers and ask them a single question. The beauty of this method is that you are not asking a lot and it is easier to send you a four-line response than to say no. Also, if you do your homework and choose the right people who believe in your cause, they are more likely to say yes, and also share the post on social media.
Craft super engaging content
#8 Identify the most shared content
Before you start diving into a blog post do some research. Selecting the right idea makes a big difference. Look at the leading websites and blogs in your industry and see what has been popular lately. Look on social media for trending content. Often you can create seasonal content or tie your content with a major event happening and make it more appealing.
Alternatively, simply ask your own audience. What do they want you to write about?
#9 Address your reader directly
Aim to create a connection with the reader. Use ‘you’ and ‘your’ in your writing. Imagine you and your reader sitting down, having a cuppa and a friendly conversation. What would you say to them? How would you sound? Approach this in a similar manner and you will resonate more with your target audience.
#10 Work on the headline
If you have been creating or consuming blog posts for any amount of time you know the importance of getting your headline right. It is crucial. A badly written headline can kill your post. People simply won’t give it a chance. Create a headline that promises a clear benefit, or one that invokes curiosity. You can’t go wrong with either.
#11 Work on the intro
Somebody clicked on the headline, great. Now you have to capture their attention with a great intro. A great introduction makes the reader want to read on and on. A lousy intro loses readers. Start with a story. Make a startling statement. Ask a question. Begin with a jaw-dropping statistic or a profound quote. There are lots of ways to do it right.
#12 Give a clear call to action
What do you want them to do? Leave a comment? Share on social media? Share with a friend who would benefit by this post? Well, don’t be shy. Just say so.
#13 Craft content that is visually appealing
Humans are visual creatures. When we see pretty pictures or compelling images, we pay attention. Use great images within your blog posts. These will help break up your content but also make it aesthetically appealing. Implement responsive design so people seeing your post on a mobile device can appreciate the beauty as well.
#14 Create content that is easy to read
Remember, you are not creating an academic essay or looking to publish in Harvard Business Review.
You are writing for a layman, your average Joe. Write at a level most people can understand. I am not saying to dumb it down but if popularity is your goal, you need to write at an eighth grade reading level (Hello Reader’s Digest!).
#15 Include an awesome infographic
Get someone to design a cool infographic and embed into your blog post. Infographics do really, really, REALLY well (only when they are superbly designed).
#16 Create a quiz
Quizzes are great for getting people to engage with your material. Who doesn’t want to know how healthy their hair is, where they rank among their friends when it comes to Kim Kardashian trivia or how confident are they in front of strangers.
People love quizzes. Make them fun, and people will come in droves.
#17 Include a video
Video educates and entertains at the same time. In a world of seeing an endless stream of written content, video is a welcome relief and provides opportunity for instant connection. Try including it within your blog post and see it take off.
#18 Focus on the positive
Research shows that content that is positive and uplifting seems to do really, really well. (Again, why kittens and puppies and babies videos attract a lot of attention.)
It’s fine to let out a rant or write about the dismal state of things in your industry but focus on creating content that inspires people and gets them to take action. Not only are you motivating people into taking action but also creating something that is highly shareable.
#19 Create high arousal emotions
According to Jonah Berger, author of Contagious, highly arousal emotions such as awe, fear, anger or surprise get people to consume and share content.
A piece of content that debunks a popular opinion as a myth, a blog post that makes somebody literally scared of something happening to them, getting people fired up about an important cause, or take them by surprise all are great examples of viral sharing.
#20 Leverage confirmation bias
As I said in the beginning of this blog post, people share posts that are a true reflection of who they are and what is important to them. Makes sure you find out what truly matters to the audience you are trying to reach and appeal to their values.
Create highly useful content
#21 Create content that educates
Teach people something. This is the easiest way to make your content qualify for going viral.
#22 Create content that entertains
Content that entertains people is highly useful as well. Make people laugh. Make them smile. Make them go ‘how cool was that?’
#23 Make it screen friendly
Incorporate lots of white space. Break up big chunks of test and shorten your paragraphs. Use bullets, numbered lists, italics, bold and images to help guide the eye.
#24 Make it scannable
Include sub-headings that give people the summary of your main points. Keep people moving through your blog post by using lots of short phrases. Use bold to highlight important takeaways.
#25 Create content that is highly actionable
Give them content that is practical and actionable. Give them things to use straightaway. Give them actionable steps they can implement this week. Nothing is more sexy than highly useful, highly actionable content.
Create well written content
#26 Get to the point
You are not writing a thesis or a term paper. Neither are you drafting a chapter of your book. See all that you need to say but keep it concise. Get rid of all the unnecessary information and redundancy. Brevity is your best friend.
#27 Communicate clearly
Make sure there is a clear structure to your blog post. Make sure your writing flows.
Your aim is to express what you are trying to communicate and not to impress. Proceed accordingly. Be persuasive in your writing and you’ll reach more people.
#28 Don’t say anything you won’t say to someone’s face
Don’t be rude. Don’t use foul language if you don’t use it in real life. Don’t write anything you won’t say to someone’s face – it’s as simple as that.
#29 Infuse your personality
Be yourself. Write your post as if you are writing to a friend. Show off your personality. Make references to your likes or dislikes. Show people you are not perfect. They will love you for being human.
You don’t want to undo all your effort just by leaving typos in and failing to clean up your grammar. These things matter. Someone might just not share your work because it was poorly edited.
#31 Deliver on your promise
Give them what you promised in the headline. There is nothing worse on getting all excited and clicking on a headline to find nothing even remotely interesting or useful in the article. You will lose trust if you do this.
Optimize for Social Media
#32 Don’t overwhelm with sharing options
Don’t give them 50 options to choose from. Stick to the 5-7 most popular platforms.
#33 Add a snippet to your tweets
When tweeting out your post, add a snippet to each tweet. Pose a question, quote something from the post and say something interesting. Make it even more compelling for people to click.
#34 Boost Post on Facebook
Use Facebook ads to boost a post. Use this option with targeting and only when the post is beginning to show some traction.
#35 Post on Facebook groups
Do you participate in Facebook groups, online forums and discussion groups? Promote your post there.
#36 Tweet at an influencer or email them
When your post is live don’t forget to email the influencers and let them know.
Tweet at them but best to do it with someone you have a relationship with (interview post or case study post). Unless you are doing the curated post in which case tweet at everybody that has been included in your post.
#37 Ask a blogger friend to share
Don’t ignore your colleagues and blogger buddies. They can help you get traction and get the ball rolling. Ask them for a share.
#38 Schedule your content
Schedule your content in advance so that it gets in front of people in different time zones. Also, publish it multiple times to reach more people.
Here is a list of top five tools to automate your content.
#39 Write a guest blog
Sometimes it easier to write a guest post on a highly authority blog and have it organically go viral for example try getting published on Lifehacker, Copyblogger, Social Media Examiner, etc.
#40 Share on various social media platforms
Share it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ or any other social media platforms you participate in.
So there you have it. My top 40 ways to make your content go viral. What would you add to this list? Share with us in the comments below!