Viral marketing is a bit like stand-up comedy—they both require strong emotions and mass appeal. When content lacks the mass appeal factor or if it doesn’t evoke the right emotion, much of the audience won’t be moved to share it. Viral Content either catches early and all or hits like a brick against concrete. Sometimes it’s just a dud. The upside of viral content keeps everyone seeking this “holy grail” of sorts.
All online marketers understand that the internet provides a limitless potential to make any specific content go viral. One share from the right publisher or one read from an influencer can result in thousands of shares and page views. Any marketer worth his salt knows that formulating a solid viral content strategy and executing it consistently is not an easy task. That’s perhaps why many marketers quickly point out that it’s almost near impossible to craft viral content. But is that really the case?
What Does It Take To Create Viral Content?
It’s a difficult question. But looking around the internet, you’ll notice there are actually people out there who manage to create viral content on a consistent basis. What’s the secret to their success? Well, they probably know something you don’t. While some might still be unaware of it, they know the right buttons to push on the internet without fail.
What’s the secret to their success, you might say? Well, they probably know something you don’t. While some might still be unaware of it, they know the right buttons so their web audience laps their content up without fail.
To understand what kind of content gets shared the most, there are a few lingering questions that we need to answer:
• What kind of emotions does the most viral content evoke?
• What is the format of posts that get the most shares?
• Is trust an important factor when a user decides to share an article?
• What is the ideal length of content that readers love to share?
• How can you make your audience keep sharing your posts for days or even weeks after publishing?
• What’s the best time to publish an article for most shares?
The aim of this guide is to show you how you can create viral content and show you a few pointers on where you can start. We hope that in the end, you’ll have a better direction on where you should take your digital marketing strategies to enhance your levels of engagement.
Understanding Why People Share Content
It’s tough to tell what kind of content will go viral. Some seemingly unexceptional pieces of content go viral while some that are solidly written go nowhere. But what’s the difference? That’s one of the things a study published in 2010 set to find out.
But what’s the difference, you may ask? That’s one of the things a study published in 2010 set to find out.
Their goal was to try and determine the emotional sentiments that most articles had in order to identify any patterns. It involved studying a total of 7,000 articles in the New York Times for a period of 3 months in a lab controlled setting. Their findings were as follows:
• While it’s a lot more complex than this, positive content goes more viral than negative content.
• Content that appeals to sadness or low emotional arousal is less viral.
• Positive content that invokes amusement, surprise, and awe will be shared more.
• The level of arousal in the reader or viewer is the key to social sharing. The more aroused they are (both positively and negatively), the more active they will be in sharing the content—regardless of whether the content is related to their mood.
• Negative content that incites anxiety and anger is generally shared more but does not necessarily get re shared… it typically gains tons of “Comments.”
• Most people share content with the hope that it will generate reciprocity (get something in return), raise their social standing, or to simply help others.
The key takeaway from the study is that if you can understand virality through the emotional state of the audience and how they can be moved, then you can prepare your content in such a way that it evokes the right kinds of emotions.
In other words, don’t play it safe! Add heart-rending emotions such as surprise, awe, anger, amusement, or anxiety, then push boundaries and give off the said emotional vibes through crafted original content.
Understanding Your Business Audience
You also need to spend more time looking at your client’s database and understand what most of your audience have in common. This may include looking at demographics such as gender, age, average income, geographical location, and job role. Of course, getting the said information might involve some creativity and research from your part.
Next, spend a day with your customer service team and see if there are any patterns that reveal what things your clients like and dislike. Try to listen to their calls to understand the typical concerns of your customers. Social media accounts are also great places to get a glimpse of what your typical customer is like. Make use of Facebook Insights to find out which updates were shared the most, and randomly check out the profiles of people who have liked your page.
Social media accounts are also great places to get a glimpse of what your typical customer is like. Make use of Facebook Insights to find out which kinds of posts were shared the most and look at the basic demographical stats of people who have liked your page.
How to Prepare Useful Content
The next step is creating content that stimulates and fascinates your audience enough to the point that they’re compelled to share it. Once you’ve written an article and finished the editing process, you’re still not done yet. There’s one final step that most people miss and that’s going through the content and determining the actions you want your audience to take. Simply put, you also have to indicate the next steps you want your reader to take.
It might seem so simple but this is no doubt a powerful thing to do.
Psychology says that people have long struggled to apply broad concepts into their lives. For instance, people know the 80/20 rule, though they rarely use it in their businesses or their own lives.
That’s why having the “next action” section in your content is powerful. Ideally, in that section, you’ll tell your readers how they can use the content you just provided in their lives. Keep in mind that when they go ahead and use it, they will get results, and they will always remember you for it.
Charming Your Audience
There Are 7 Triggers of Fascination:
• Passion: Companies or individuals with passion effectively form close relationships with their customers. Remember the last time you walked into an Apple store, were you all over the latest Mac? This is similar to the feeling of passion or lust. Human beings have a similar psychological response to sex, food, and other products that they anticipate will give them pleasure. Ensure that you draw feelings of passion from your customers in order to pique their interest.
• Mystique: This is all about tactically holding something back and not showing it. The lack of fulfillment creates curiosity. To trigger mystique, you need to withhold information, spark curiosity, build a myth, and limit access. A good example of mystique is the Coca-Cola story—it’s been said that the secret ingredient of Coca-Cola is held in a special vault, and based on these myths, only two people know its exact location.
• Alarm: People generally prefer to avoid problems. You can effectively use the alarm trigger to inspire fast action by showing people the negative consequences they’ll have to face if they choose inaction. Define what the consequences are and then create deadlines to leverage fear.
• Prestige: this is all about perceived respect. People are attracted to tangible trappings of success, such as things like high salary, luxurious items, or a prestigious position. Why do we pay more for a branded product than ones from the supermarket’s own brands? To leverage the prestige trigger, you need to reduce the availability of a product or service, raise the price to reduce accessibility, and live up to the promise with a higher price. This no doubt requires nerves of steel and a long-term commitment to your brand.
• Power: People don’t always want to be in control of things and often want to relinquish their control to others. One great example is with digital marketers. Small business owners want to concentrate on their core business processes so they often prefer to delegate their marketing initiatives to an agency so they won’t have to think about such tasks.
• Rebellion: We all want to do things differently and break the rules sometimes. When we are told we can’t have something, the resulting desire leads to some kind of vice. Think of how the “Think Different” slogan was used by Apple in the past when they were behind Microsoft and people started flocking to them.
• Trust: Familiarity and predictability breed trust. Messages from your brand should be clear, consistent, and reliable, as well as repeated and retold. One brand that does this really well is Starbucks and McDonald’s. I might not be a big fan, but I always trust I’ll get exactly what I expect when I go into a Starbucks or McDonald’s restaurant. Be sure to annihilate any sense of chaos, uncertainty, or surprise from your brand.
Find out what two of these triggers you are strong with and then leverage them well in your messaging as well as in your content. Defining the purpose and core beliefs of your brand are no doubt important when building your company culture.
Final Viral Content Points
The biggest take away from this guide is to take risks and have fun when crafting your content. If you feel that you have probably gone too far exposing yourself, then maybe you’re at the right place. Have another person check your work, but don’t be overly cautious. Create something original that you’re confident of, and then sell it internally. If you get some resistance through awe or fear, this is a good sign.
Create something original that you’re confident of and then back it up emotionally. If you get some resistance through awe or fear, this is a good sign.
It’s no doubt possible to create viral content. Remember to have the marketing plan right, target highly stimulating emotions from your readers, and give them the next action to take.
What do you think we might have missed? How do you plan on using these strategies for your website? We’d like to hear from you so make sure you comment below!
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