Anyone who invests time, money or both in content wants it to resonate with their readers, otherwise, why do it? Well-crafted content helps a business inform and educate potential users on its product or service and provides an opportunity to engage with a customer or prospect in an authentic way. But when your content goes viral, well, watch out. It can take on a life of its own and open many new doors for you. That said, going viral isn’t as simple as it seems. While you never know what might catch, going viral involves a little science and it requires applying some rules.
Before we get to some of those rules, let’s define what it means to go viral, according to a quick Google search:
If your content hasn’t lit the internet on fire, don’t fret. Going viral shouldn’t be your goal anyway. Still, if you want your content to gain traction and eyeballs, you need to pay attention to the following five items.
Think of your headlines as the invitation to your audience to keep reading. A good headline will compel them to do so and you’ve won. But, if your headline is ho-hum, boring or has no hook, you may lose readers. According to CopyBlogger, about 80 percent of visitors will read your blog’s headline, but only 20 percent will click on it to see the rest of the article.
So how can your headline not suck? It all depends on the context and what you’re writing.
In some instances, you simply can give the people what they want, and flat out describe what the content is about.
In other cases, you may want to spice it up a bit and entice the reader to want to continue. This means headlines that:
• Describe what to do to get a desired outcome
• Pose a question
• State a contrarian thought
• This vs. that
But, it's important to keep in mind not to make your headline clickbait. You want it to tell your audience what's next and why they need to keep reading.
In theory, short, targeted content has a better chance of going viral than longer form content. The reason is goldfish.
Have you ever heard that the average attention span of a human is shorter than that of a goldfish? Apparently, it is; we humans have the attention span of 8 seconds. (read that again if I lost you).
Because of that, most viral content is short and to the point. It has to be to grab and keep the audience.
So if you’re writing a blog article, how can it go viral?
It might be hard but if you include short scannable paragraphs broken out by sub-heads and lots of great information, it could attract lots of eyeballs.
Don't let that deter you, though, from creating longer content as long as it provides value. While that might not go viral, Google does reward quality long-form content in its search rankings.
If your content isn’t relatable, it’s missing out big time because when we relate to something, we feel emotions. And if content makes someone feel a certain way, they are more apt to share it. #truestory.
One excellent way to do this is to tell a story. It doesn’t have to be long or too detailed (see #2 above), but it does need to have a few things:
• A beginning, middle and end – a story needs structure to keep the audience engaged
• Characters we can identify with – this will help seeing ourselves in the story
• An ending we love…or hate – this will elicit empathy or anger, both driving factors in wanting to share it
Stories have been the way humans have communicated for thousands of years. They are a very powerful mode of communication.
Do you remember when everyone used to ask when the best time to post on YOUR FAVORITE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM HERE? Of course, the answer depended on the specific platform but the thought was each platform had specific days and/or times of day to post for optimal reach.
But times have changed and now that advice doesn't necessarily pertain. Timing is everything, but these days it doesn’t really matter the day or time you post. Case in point: I posted on the Saturday before Easter in April, 2022 to LinkedIn and my post went viral:
My point is, if you’re waiting for just the right time to share something, you’ll be waiting a while. There is no right time any more.
Can you smell that? It’s what desperation smells like and it ain’t pretty. I get there’s lots of talk about how to go viral, but the truth is, there isn’t one specific way. What works for one person or business may or may not work for you. So instead of working so hard to copy others who have gone viral, focus on this instead:
• Being authentic
• Being consistent
• Providing useful, entertaining and/or engaging content
• Developing a rapport with your audience
• Interacting with the comments
So now that you know some of the rules to help your content go viral, which will you incorporate into your content?
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