Dying to Go Viral: 9 Ways to Captivate Your Audience

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Jan 2016
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Author : Pete Peranzo

We all want our content to go viral. Going viral means reaching a huge audience, which can convert into leads for your business.

How does a piece of content go “viral”? Is it luck, or is there something more to it?

There certainly is an element of chance, but the creator of the viral piece likely used the right components, even if unknowingly. There’s a method do the viral madness.

We researched viral content and have a few suggestions to increase the likelihood of a viral blog or video.

Appeal to emotion

Research has found that most of the content that goes viral has one thing in common – it appeals to our emotions.

Think about the last cat or dog video you saw, or that of a baby babbling. It probably turned you to mush for a few seconds before you hit the like button or shared it with your friends. Now think of the last blog post you shared. It probably shocked you in some way or offered a unique perspective that you hadn’t thought of before. Either way, it provoked emotion and thus piqued your interest.

Positive emotions are more likely to elicit shares. Cat, dog, baby, or celebrity videos may not be very relevant to your business, but you can take lessons from the most popular videos and apply them to your content.

Get personal

It’s nice for a business to appear professional, but don’t do it to the point of coming across as robotic. After all, your audience is human and personal touches go a long way.

Getting personal is one of the key ingredients in making a post viral. This could mean injecting personality into your writing; sharing a personal experience with your readers and drawing conclusions from it for everyone’s benefit (or just for a good laugh); posting pictures from your personal life on your Twitter or Facebook, etc.

Be humorous

The power of humor goes a long way.  Make someone laugh and they are sure to remember you.

BuzzFeed has mastered the art of using hilarious images and gifs to hook people’s attention. Their posts don’t contain a lot of words, but they make people want to click on them. Even if you find a headline ridiculous, you are still intrigued by it enough to want to check out the post. They tap into the power of emotion and the results reflect in their traffic.

As a business owner if you write your own posts, rev things up with a little humor. Letting your playful personality shine through isn’t going to turn anyone away; in fact, quite the opposite!

Invent a catchphrase

Jonah Berger, the author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, mentions the 2011 viral video Friday by Rebecca Black as a case study. He says that while the video attracted tons of traffic, it didn’t do so uniformly. It attracted peak traffic every Friday and then saw a slump (relatively speaking) on the rest of the days. It’s not difficult to see why that would be since Fridays would bring to mind, well, the word Friday, which in turn would make people think of the song Friday, prompting them to watch it again.

That’s the power of catchphrases and taglines. Try incorporating them into your content to help it ring a bell in your readers’ minds.

Create authoritative content

Obviously, not everything that goes viral has a humorous undertone to it. Creative posts and infographics that educate readers can also achieve widespread popularity.

Some recent examples of popular posts:

These elaborately written stories garnered thousands of shares on social media. Of course, they were helped by the fact that they were published on websites with large and loyal audiences only too eager to share their content.

This is worth bearing in mind. You will only get your posts shared extensively if you build a strong following both on your blog as well as on social media. The greater the number of people who follow you, the more the likelihood of a post going viral.

Trending news/topics

I’m not suggesting that you get involved in a political flame war. However, you can certainly make your thoughts known on topics that pertain to the world of business in general. Volkswagen’s recall of vehicles installed with fraudulent technology is a case in point. Google’s scrapping of Google+ Local is another case in point.

This would require you to follow the developments in your industry on a regular basis and participate in related conversations for people to get to know you. It’s important as a business owner for you to build authority on social media to maximize the chances of your content getting popular.

Ask for shares

Ask and you just might receive. If you agree, hit the ‘like’ button!

When you end a blog post with a clear call to action, it increases the likelihood of the readers actually taking some action.

Buffer found that placing sharing buttons (a crystal clear CTA) under a post increased the chances of it getting shared by as many as seven times!

Promote your best posts

Spend money on your best content. Many viral campaigns had strong promotion to help them. Showing up prominently in Facebook and Twitter feeds of your followers and/or target audience significantly increases the probability of your content gaining popularity.

Use video and character animation

Lend charm to your content with quirky animation videos. This need not be an expensive affair. Certain Web design agencies, such as ours, offer this service at a reasonable cost. Creating video content helps our clients deliver memorable messages. The visual medium is powerful and lingers on in people’s minds. It also shows the human side of a business, while helping you create a personal brand. Make the most of it by incorporating it into your content creation strategy.

Risk reaps rewards

There is no exact science to creating viral content, but this is where your creativity and the willingness to take risks comes into play. The above are general guidelines. A mix of trial and error should take you closer to your first truly viral piece of content.

Have you had a piece of content go viral? Was it planned or was it just luck? We’d love to hear about it, so leave a comment!

 

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