Nowdays, getting your content to go viral is the modern equivalent of winning a jackpot. The truth is that it is nearly impossible to engineer content that will for sure go viral. That being said, there still are basic principles that should be used to give your content its greatest chances of virility.
I reached out to 12 very successful content creators. Together they shared the following 60 strategies to help your content go viral.
I hope you enjoy!
Melanie Mathos is CMO at Narrative, a content community where members rule and are rewarded, with 85 percent of all revenue distributed to users. With 18 years experience in industries ranging from publishing to technology, she is a marketing leader, brand builder, social mediaphile, author and speaker.
With a background in journalism, she frequently contributes articles to various publications and also specializes in social media. An accomplished writer and sought after speaker, Melanie is the author of 101 Social Media Tactics for Nonprofits: A Field Guide. She has presented at multiple industry conferences including SXSW Interactive and has lectured at Wake Forest, University of Michigan and Indiana University.
She previously served as senior vice president at Lou Hammond Group, an integrated marketing agency where she led a team focused on technology, thought leadership, real estate and travel. Prior to that role, she directed public relations for Blackbaud, Inc. (NASDAQ: BLKB), the leading global provider of software and services for nonprofit organizations for nearly a decade, where she drove strategic media relations, managed global communications through product launches and acquisitions and launched the company’s social media presence as well as The Blackbaud Index — the sector’s most comprehensive index of charitable giving.
Melanie has been honored as 40 Under 40 Charleston and 15 “Can Do” Social Good Women. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Michigan State University.
I’ll start off by saying something that may be shocking. I don’t care who you are — you can’t make content go viral. Content goes viral on its own. (And even then, it is an exception to the rule!) That said, there are some things you can do to optimize content for virality.
1. Create something worth talking about! Be original — what unique perspective can you bring to a highly relevant, timely topic? Newsjacking is a prime example of adding your voice to an already trending topic and adding something new of value. (Whether it be on social or via other contributed content channels.)
2. Look at your most popular content. What content pieces drove the spikes in traffic? What did they have in common? How can you infuse those learnings into your content strategy? (Be sure to learn from the duds too!)
3. Create content that people will want to share. Whether that be a list, something humorous, something helpful. And don’t forget to make it easy to share! Incorporate sharing links, and engage with the people who are engaging with your content.
4. Make sure people see your content. If you build it, will they come? Not in this multi-channel, multi-tasking world. You need to bring content to people. Establish a content strategy to push content out (and draw readers/viewers in.)
5. Content rules. Select your words like a surgeon. Headlines and lead sentences matter. That said, long-form content still rules when it comes to sharing, so brevity doesn’t apply in the end.
Alex Birkett works on freemium acquisition growth at HubSpot, but has a length history of creating viral campaigns. From building listicles and infographics at LawnStarter that saw thousands of shares and hundreds of thousands of hits to launching successful Product Hunt launches that bring real business results, he knows which triggers lead to compulsive sharing and remarkable campaigns.
You have to bake some ego-bait into what you’re building. Basically, there’s a social cost to sharing anything, in that you risk your own reputation in recommending whatever you’re sending — doesn’t matter if it’s content, a product, or an educational video. If there’s any chance that what you’re building will result in negative social value, it’s not going to go viral. Therefore, the easiest way to build viral campaigns is to make people feel good about what they’re sharing, at a personal level. Let your viral campaign be an ego boost. How many times have you shared articles that talk about how awesome and well-ranked your college is? It makes you look good (because you attended), so it’s easy to share.
My name is Marc Freccero and I’m a DJ/Electronic Music Producer and YouTuber. I create both audio and visual content online, turning my own name and brand into a business.
1. Always ask yourself: Why would someone what to watch/interact with my content? Especially if they don’t know you, is your content interesting, informative, funny, etc?
2. Look for niches that are popular yet unexplored. For me personally, my first viral videos related to Uber & Lyft, because there were few YouTube Videos — yet a lot of searches.
3. BE UNIQUE. This is huge. There are hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of people trying to do the same thing you are. Find what makes you most unique, and enhance it.
4. SEO truly does help, but remember: You’re making content for people, not robots. Learn SEO, but don’t let it fully control everything you do.
5. Have fun! I know that’s a weird last tip, but the more fun and enjoyment you have making content, the more people will want to interact with it. Especially if you want to build a big following, this is absolutely necessary.
I help businesses grow and gain traffic. I manage a portfolio of sites with over 1,500,000 pageviews/ month. In my free time I like to run, including the Boston Marathon, read, and spend time with family and friends.
My #1 viral organic promotion strategy is using forums such as reddit to share genuine stories and promote my products and knowledge. A few weeks ago I shared my investing story on Reddit, and it gained more than 500 upvotes in a few days. From this alone my site was visited hundreds of times, and I received over 30 emails and messages asking for investing advice, help and requesting to be on my “investing waitlist.”
I’ve found telling your story through a genuine lens and posting in online forums such as Reddit to be a great source that drives new fans, customers and attention, great for any business to grow, and best of all, it doesn’t cost a dime.
My #2 strategy is to apply the same storytelling technique to Quora
My #3 is to use this strategy on Facebook
My #4 is to do this on Instagram
Lastly my #5 is to reach out to people you admire on all platforms and trade stories to share with your audiences to grow both your audiences and keep sharing stories.
Chris Mariotti is an entrepreneur and musical artist with his rock band Edgar Allan Poets. He writes, performs and records original songs influenced by Poe and Alfred Hitchcock to create uniquely cinematic music.
The Edgar Allan Poets are an alternative band that promotes a dark and intense sound that’s being called noir rock. Their music is a mix of grunge guitars, classical strings and lyrics that evoke tales shrouded in shadow and mystery.
His band has gained a lot of social media attention in the last few years because of targeted content and promo campaigns.
Chris is also an expert graphic designer video maker and social media marketer, he also develops and executes promotional campaigns, videos, graphics for other artists and businesses to help them to reach more people. Social media marketing truly excites him. By using these promotional techniques, Chris is able to give ideas and projects higher visibility.
He also cooperates with the Youtube space in Los Angeles to produce music videos for him and other artists.
Edgar Allan Poets have now a large fan base and are extremely popular on social media sites. The band currently has more than 720.000 likes on Facebook, 25.000 Twitter followers, 26.000 on Instagram, 11.000 subscribers on youtube and 16.000 on google+”
Going viral is like winning the lottery even if your content is incredible. The best way, in my opinion, to have visibility is to create a community around your brand or project. To build a community you need to find, understand and target the people in your niche and engage with them daily.
2) Moving with the flow
Social Media are evolving everyday so you need to follow their algorithms and understand what is changing. You need always to be updated on their moves and you must constantly test and modify your content in order to get the best results.
Right now videos are the best way to entertain you audience, to promote my band I also use a lot of memes, but videos are for sure the best way of gaining their attention. You need to master Final Cut, Premire Pro or other video editing softwares.
You need to know the top influencers in your niche and contact them. I found in twitter the best way to reach these “gatekeepers” for some reason they seem to answer more there. You should try to get noticed before contacting them directly by liking and commenting their posts. Once you make the connection then is the right timing to pitch your project.
You should spend time analyzing the graphics and performances of your campaigns. The last video of my band “”Blah!”” got more than 250.000 views on Facebook but I started that campaign with an A/B test to understand what was the thumbnail better working for my audience. Tailoring your content is the key of your success and you can improve only by knowing what your audience is looking for.
Director of Marketing at Novomotus, a digital marketing agency specializing in SEO services, content creation, 3D rendering, and data collection.
Going Viral is the buzzword to end all buzzwords — its overuse creating such enigmatic connotations that even seasoned marketers feel weary in their pursuit of racking up enough shares to qualify for virality. To some degree, producing content that goes viral involves a bit of secret sauce and favorable market conditions. Without these catalysts, however, marketing campaigns can still be highly successful when created using a formulaic approach. When a string of successful campaigns are launched in succession the chances that one of them finding favorable market conditions to go viral is much greater. To go viral — without relying on plain dumb luck — one needs a formula for success and a steady presence in front of audiences. Some of the characteristics common to successful campaigns that go viral are as follows:
1. Touch on Emotional Connections
Emotional in one way or another. Funny campaigns tend to draw the quickest response, but deeper perspectives that touch on other emotions can still be effective.
2. Integrate Current Events When Appropriate
Current events are always easy platforms to hitch a wagon to for those wishing to leverage existing market attention. However, many of the most popular current events are often politically charged and can quickly turn into disastrous campaigns with the potential for long-term harm.
3. Don’t Polarize an Audience by Accident
Ambiguity can help reach as broad of an audience as possible. For example, if one were creating a funny short animation where a character was falling funnily, it’d likely be better suited for virality if the character were an animal. If it’s a man falling down men might interpret it poorly and if it’s a woman falling down women might interpret it poorly as well. If it’s a talking animal falling — even the strongest of animal lovers are likely to not blink an eye since animals that talk aren’t something they’d recognize as realistic.
4. Being the Biggest Fish in a Smaller Pond
Recognizing the relativity of going viral within smaller audiences can help drive wildly successful campaigns by allowing more specific focal points within campaigns. For example, creating a video that goes viral within the entire audience of YouTube is downright tough. Portrayed interests have to be so broad to reach such large audiences that there is often little financial benefit.
5. Segment Your Audience if Possible
Focusing on segmented audiences and working to make campaigns go viral there can be much more financially successful. It all depends on the goals and strategy of a campaign. For example, having a video displayed on the front page of YouTube or Reddit may drive tens of thousands in revenue from general advertising but having more interest-specific campaigns reach the tops of subreddits, Facebook groups, or YouTube channels might drive hundreds of thousands or millions in revenue when supported by a related product.
Richard Wong is the VP Marketing & Creator Relations at #paid. He is a seasoned, classically trained marketer who came from Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson and moved into the tech world, including growing Google’s source for insights, trends, and research in digital marketing, Think with Google. He also teaches the digital marketing classes at tech schools — Brainstation, RED Academy, and Camp Tech.
1) The Medium is the Message: content should be platform specific, as each has their own winning formula. For example, FB videos are often played in mute, and appear larger on feeds in portrait mode, while youtube videos look better in portrait and are typically played with sound.
2) Reach Out and Partner Up: Find other accounts with similar content and a large following, and reach out to see if they would be willing to share your content with their audience
3) Call to Action: Encourage followers to like, share and subscribe as much as possible without being obnoxious about it.
4) Spread Across Platforms: While your content should be platform-specific, your audience shouldn’t. When you post on one platform be sure to share the username or channel name of your others.
5) Be Authentic: Authenticity is the name of the game on social media. People come to see authenticity, not acting, and if you want your content to go viral you need to be real.
As the CEO of Aliste Marketing, Alicia Williams is the marketing professional mastermind behind the visionary concepts. She helps clients transition from unseasoned startups into unfettered successes. Her impressive personal accomplishments and passion for helping fellow entrepreneurs realize their own dreams has garnered her numerous accolades. These include the 2016 Outstanding Women of Family Business Award Recipient, recognition as one of The Worcester Business Journal’s 40 Under Forty, and the honor of being the Spotlight Entrepreneur for Capital One Spark.
Alicia’s gift for out-of-the-box creative strategies with real metrics to show ROI have won her a dedicated client base as well as the attention of branding giants like Microsoft and Staples both of whom have invited Alicia to present her take on marketing strategy. She’s also a Certified Women Owned Business, HubSpot Partner Certified and Constant Contact Certified Authorized Local Expert. As a valued media commentator, Alicia has been featured on No Boundaries Business Radio Show, Money Matters Talk Radio, and CBS Radio The Sports Hub.
Recently, authoring and publishing her new book Popping Your Marketing Cherry, A Book on How To Get Your Budding Business To Go All the Way, lifts the curtain to give readers a glimpse at a highly actionable, step-by-step marketing plan that helps puts you, the business owner, in control of your own destiny.
When people around the internet take notice and quickly spread the word we refer to that as going viral. Going viral can boost your ratings or possibly connect you with new customers!
Here are some reasons your content has gone viral:
You have posted a quality story. Catchy headlines can only do so much to draw a reader in. If you’ve posted a great headline but the following story leaves a lot to be desired, your content probably won’t go viral. However, if you attract readers with a catchy headline and hook them with a great story, they will want to share it with others. As Jonah Burger, a graduate student at Stanford, says, “”People love stories. The more you see your story as part of a broader narrative, the better.””
The content is emotionally charged. Let’s face it, we’d all rather read a story about something that makes us sad, angry, or happy than one that doesn’t evoke much emotion. Not surprisingly, these types of stories are what people like to share with their friends and families, ultimately spreading it around the internet.
Your content is newsworthy. According to Forbes.com, “”Your content should always support, complement or play-off the heels of a newsworthy story.”” Examples include women in politics and the role of women in the workplace. Having emotionally-charged and newsworthy content is bound to garner attention around the net, as people chime in with their opinions and take note of the issue at hand.
The content makes people feel like they are in the know. Everyone wants to feel smart and in the know.
Your content is positive. Positive content is more viral than negative content. Just think back to the last story you read. If you had to choose between a rather depressing story and a heartwarming one with a great ending, which one would you select to read and pass along to your friends?
David Mercer contributes to SME Pals, a blog dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and small business owners thrive online by turning creative business ideas into profitable startups. He is a tech entrepreneur and published author with programming and Web development books translated into over 13 languages worldwide.
Viral content is difficult to reproduce because the recipe constantly changes.
If you can’t understand why some people are constantly generating buzz from the same quality content you produce, it’s likely the result of their reach and the network effect.
Your influencer network needs to be both clustered and fluid. It should have enough saturation to make an impact in one network, but enough fluidity to travel between networks.
Ultimately, producing viral content is about who you know, how well you can judge the current needs of the various social networks, and how well you can engineer quirkiness (that acts as a catalyst for sharing).
Taken from our in-depth analysis of how to produce viral content at https://smepals.com/social/hidden-secrets-behind-viral-social-media-marketing”
As CMO of The Saatva Company, a fast growing online luxury mattress company, Ricky Joshi’s mission is to redefine consumer retail and create content that benefits, rather than bogs down, consumers. Joshi has developed successful retail analytics, social media platforms and applications. He holds an MBA from Columbia University and a BA from Dartmouth College.
I subscribe to Neil Patel’s notion that shorter, more poignant content is necessary when trying to go viral. Nowadays, our attention spans are shorter than ever. We’re onto the next thing as if the first thing didn’t happen. Memes have taken over our personal and oftentimes professional social media accounts, further breaking down our already short attention spans. The number one way to ensure your content goes viral is to make sure it’s short and sweet — long, dragging content rarely goes viral, if ever. You want content that’s shareable and the best way to ensure shareability is the length of the piece or clip.
The Saatva Company employs this technique when producing blog content and video content. Our customers are looking for viable options on their search for high-quality, environmentally friendly products, so they may not be ready to read a long piece on why they should go with us or watch a long video on sustainable materials. They want facts in an accessible and digestible format. Using this approach has allowed us to create content that outperforms our competitors and adds value to our customers’ shopping journey.”
Michella Chiu is the Director of Brand Marketing at GREAT WINE, Inc. She plays a crucial role in managing the company’s strategic plans in marketing, public relations (PR), and sales. Companies Chiu has worked for successfully gain publicity in important media outlets including Forbes, Entrepreneur, monster.com, and U.S. News & Report etc.
Chiu went to Columbia University for her M.A. in East Asian Languages and Culture (History track) and Princeton University for her Ph.D. in History. She also holds certificates including Strategic Leadership for Supervisors from the University of Washington, and Wine & Spirit Education Trust WSET Level 3. Chiu’s education ignites her interest for wine history and concepts behind wine for consumption.
As a prolific researcher and marketing professional, Chiu gained numerous academic research experiences as a historian at University of Chicago and the Rockefeller Foundation. She received invitation to publish from the University of Cambridge and Indiana University presses. In recognition of Chiu’s passion and academic excellence, she was invited to visit University of Washington as a Visiting Scholar from 2015 to 2016.
Out of her busy schedule, Chiu takes a number of leadership roles in the community to help young people explore their career options. She is the Vice President of the Princeton Club of Western Washington, a Member of the Columbia Alumni Career Coaches Network, and a Member of Versatile Ph.D. — student-run organization aiming to help Ph.Ds and Ph.D. candidates look to non-academic jobs. She also has a newspaper column on graduate school application tips.
1. Take advantage of free social media tools: Social media’s business profile allows company to include call-to-action in their profile, including website, “email” button or “call” button. By being just one click away from your customers, you have successfully created the first good impression with them. They also provide insight tools, such as Facebook Insight, Instagram Insight and Twitter Analytics, for business to monitor its performance on Instagram. The data will allow you to learn which posts have the most engagement or which hashtag combination creates the most impressions for your posts. Content creators should include clear and easy to follow call-to- action in their posts, as well as provide link(s) to website, instructions, or visual aids to assist the audience. However, as Facebook banned “engagement bait” on its network, marketers should be smart about their call-to-action.
2. Cross-media promotion: We are on four social media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Cross-media promotion helps the company to achieve high number of audience reach in order to increase brand awareness. Moreover, it also promotes other social media to our different audiences on different channels. Share
3. Use hashtags that are related to your brand: It is important to include hashtags related to your products, services or location. Hashtags will indirectly tell your audience about your brand, where you base and what you do. However, you have to be creative with your hashtags, do not use the same set of hashtags all the time.
4. Interact with followers and influencers to boost growth: Comments, likes and share your followers’ posts to let them know that you care about them. Also, do not be shy to comment on posts that are related to your brand. As your social media specialist comments on an Instagram user’s post, it is a wonderful chance your account gets exposed to potential followers. Collaboration with social media influencers is also an effective way to make your contents viral. Effective Instagram marketing is when you build personal relationship with your customers and people who are interested in the company.
5. Choose your own sharing time: Each company has different target audience. So, your audience will have different active time on Instagram. Many social media specialists have wondered what time is that right time to post on social media. Social media specialists have to be mindful of the target audience’s location. For GREAT WINE, Inc., as we target audience in both the U.S and China, we depend on both time zones to schedule our posts. So, do not follow the posting schedule rule you find on the internet. However, note that do not overwhelm your audience, be mindful with your post frequency.”
Dror Ginzberg has over 25 years of experience in technology, with a focus on video and related technologies. He is currently CEO of predictive video creation platform Wochit, a company he co-founded in 2012 to give brands, media companies and other content producers the ability to rapidly create engaging content at the scale and speed needed to meet today’s rapidly-increasing demand.
Prior to Wochit, Dror co-founded PicApp, which was acquired by YBrant Media in 2011. Previously, he held senior executive positions at technology companies including BeInSync (acquired by Phoenix Technologies), Comverse and Emblaze. He began his career in the Elite Computer Science Unit of the Israeli Defense Forces where he conducted R&D for telecommunications and Information systems. He currently splits his time between New York and Tel Aviv. “
Of the many thousands of videos created using the Wochit platform, we’ve seen quarter after quarter that only about one percent attains the one-million-view benchmark that we use to signify “viral.” While there’s no perfect formula that will ensure a viral hit, we’ve examined a lot of videos to develop some tips that go a long way toward ensuring your content gets maximum impact and engagement.
#GetTrending: Since virality is driven by conversations and engagement, create content that incorporates timely, trending topics.
Give all the feels: Our research shows that the most popular videos are ones that drive strong emotions. When creating content, keep in mind the mindset of your audience, and aim to make them happy, sad, angry — anything but neutral should boost your chances of having a hit.
Ask and ye shall have a better chance at succeeding: If you want your audience to share your content, just ask! You’ll be surprised how a simple call to action (CTA) can help achieve your goals.
Work what works: Certain kinds of content, for example, listicles, are reliably shareable and have a place in nearly every content strategy. But don’t be afraid to experiment, too, and once you find something works for your audience, do more of it!
Originally published at medium.com