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5 Ways to Ensure Your Content Goes Viral

Generating viral content is difficult enough and what is even more difficult is to ensure that does assume viral proportions on the Internet. Unfortunately there are no mantras or any fixed set of rules that you must follow to make sure that your posts go viral. There is definitely a significant element of luck involved which is hardly surprising given the inherently unpredictable nature of the Internet.

For a post to go viral, a user after reading through a post, must somehow feel compelled to share the post with his circle of friends either through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or through email. Obviously this is no easy task.

Nonetheless, difficult as this may seem, listed as follows are some of the most popular methods used by content marketers to make their posts go viral -

Create Content that is Capable of Going Viral

Importance of quality content cannot be emphasized enough. If you want your content to reach a wide audience and generate targeted traffic to your website, content has to stand out. You have to offer something unique that differentiates you from your competitors. Recycled generic content is neither useful nor memorable and rightly so. Simply put, sub-standard content cannot go viral even with a carefully devised promotional campaign.

Apart from the quality of content, it is important to remember that certain types of content are more likely to go viral than others. “How to” articles, lists and motivational pieces are some of the most widely shared posts on social media. In the same vein, content that is controversial or challenges conventional beliefs are also good candidates for going viral.

Appeals to Emotions

Research has shown that emotionally evocative content has a much wider reach than other types of content. In other words, people have to emotionally identify with or relate to your content at a personal level. This simple truth was embraced by speech writers since the time of the ancient Greeks. Aristotle identified three key elements in a speech that he deemed necessary for holding his audience’s attention and influencing their decisions, namely – ethos, pathos and logos.

Ethos refers to possessing ethical appeal. Basically, people will not buy products from a company if it does not seem likeable or trustworthy. Convincing potential customers that your company is good (ethical) is an integral part of brand building. Pathos means an appeal to emotions. Studies have shown that people tend to share posts that provoke a powerful (and usually positive) emotional response in them. This explains why random videos of kittens and their shenanigans keep going viral all the time.

Catchy Headlines

Your content is only as good as its headline. Regardless of how great the quality of your content might be, it cannot go viral unless it is accompanied by a catchy headline. For instance, the title “5 Easy Ways to Lose Weight” will undoubtedly have a much higher click through rate than “How to Lose Weight”.  

It is also worth noting that the second most shared post (with almost 900,000 shares) by the New York Times was a piece titled “To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This”. It is a great headline with a strong emotional quotient and it also falls into the category of the ever popular “How to” type of posts.

Facts, Figures and Data

Every assertion that you make, should always be backed by facts. This is very important especially if you are not planning to sway your target audience with appeals to their emotions alone. This is where ‘logos’ comes in. This term, as the name suggests, means logical appeal. People like to think of themselves are rational consumers that make well informed choices. This is why you should always substantiate your assertions with credible data and references. Not only does this improve your site’s credibility by making it seem trustworthy, it also makes readers feel like they are insiders, which is essential for brand loyalty.

Nevertheless, do not make the mistake of oversaturating your content with too much information. You have to strike a delicate balance so that your site is both interesting and informative at the same time. It should not read like dry academic literature. Use infographics, pictures and graphics to present information in a visually appealing and easy-to-read format.

For example, The Guardian’s second most shared article (with over 700,000 shares) is titled “Overpopulation, Overconsumption in Pictures”. This picture list provokes a strong emotional response and is simultaneously visually arresting. Even though the accompanying text which provides the context to the pictures is over 900 words, it reads very easily because of the visual-focused layout of the article.

Make it Easy to Share

This is a no-brainer but it needs to be stated nonetheless since social media sharing is usually overlooked as compared to conventional SEO strategies. However, more often than not, social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Reddit play an instrumental role in making content go viral and earn businesses a raving fan-base.

For instance, most of BuzzFeed’s content reaches their readers through Facebook shares. Make it easy for people to share your posts on social media by placing widgets and buttons at easily visible locations. Many websites use social media sharing buttons below their content or on their left hand side so that it is always visible to users as they scroll through pages.