Creating content that goes viral is not an exact science. One cat video makes it; another does not. But you are probably not in the business of cat videos. You have a business, and you want to create content that gets read and shared so that your brand is promoted among lots of communities on social media. While it’s not an exact science, however, research has given us lots of data about what types of content have the best chances of going viral. Using that research should help. Here are 13 things that you can do to increase your chances.
- Let Your Readers/Followers Look Smart or Clever
People what to look smart in the eyes of their social communities. When that follower gets some really cool information or gets wind of a big sale or discount, s/he is highly likely to share that post. Likewise, people want to appear clever. So when they see a video, a meme, a quiz, or a great inspirational quote, they will share those things. Keep this in mind as you post to social media. People want to be the “bearers” of great stuff to their friends and connections.
- Go Interactive
When readers can participate, they are almost driven to do so. Post surveys, contests, quizzes, and other interactive stuff. Dollar Shave Club does a great job of this. It posts videos and viewers get to select an ending for the story from among options that are given. They are encouraged to share the video so that others can pick their endings. Jack Daniels asks readers for weird bar stories – they do and then share those stories with their friends, who can also submit stories of their own.
- Bust Myths
If there are myths about your niche that you can dispel, great! Put in your title the fact that you are busting a certain number of myths but don’t reveal which ones – you want to pique curiosity.
- Headlines the Include Pitfalls
No one wants to make mistakes. You can always gain interest if you have titles like “7 Ways You are Killing your content Marketing Campaigns” or “8 Big Fashion Mistakes for 2016.” These will get read and get shared.
- Lists, Tips, Ways
While really common, these are still big “come-ons.” People like lists, because they can be scanned easily; and if there are tips that they can use, all the better. They will take the advice and share it. Recently, there was a Facebook post about all of the uses for WD-40. It was amazing. I actually scanned through it and then sent it on. Why? Because there were some really unique ways to use this product that I had never known (and I wanted to look “smart” to my friends).
- Humanize Yourself
You are not just a business. You are a human being – a human being with other team members. You all have stories to tell. Maybe you have an office pet. Feature your pet in a series of humorous stories with photos and videos. Think of other ways that you can do this, such as featuring your customers. Anything that you can do that will provide human interest is shareable. Geico does a perfect job of this with its lizard and his adventures. The Aflac duck is another good example.
- Copy Others
Look carefully at what others are creating that goes viral. How can your incorporate those strategies and tactics into your own content campaigns on social media?
- Support a Cause
Millennials especially want to do business with companies that show real social responsibility. If you are supporting a cause, you should publicize it regularly on your social media platforms. Show photos and videos of those who are being helped; have special campaigns for the cause. Ask readers to please share your cause and your campaign with their communities. If you want to see this in action, check out the Facebook pages of Toms Shoes and Headbands of Hope.
- Get the Best Headlines Ever
Spend a lot of time on your headlines. They need to make readers want to click through to read. Whoever is creating the Facebook titles for Upworthy is a master at this. The same goes for Hope for Paws. It is almost impossible to ignore those headlines, and the content is simple but compelling – real life stories of people and animals – who can resist? And they are hugely shared.
- Tie-In to Current Events
Current political campaigns are all over the news. How can you use them for content and posts? Be creative. How is Donald Trump like a pair of socks? How is Hilary Clinton like a 3rd-grade teacher? Make the post humorous, and you have a winner.
- Use Visuals for Everything
Visual content, especially videos, is shared about 40X more on social media than any other content. Dispense with the words – get those visuals out there.
- Engage Readers/Followers in Conversation
You want lots of conversation, even if some of it may be on topics that people have different opinions about. This is the way to keep people engaged. When they have the opportunity to share their views and give their feedback and are rewarded for it by encouraging comments back from you, they like you a lot more. When they need what you have to sell they will buy from you. And when their friends need what you sell, they will recommend you. Just don’t get into highly controversial topics – some of your readers will take offense, and then you have lost them and all of their friends.
- Challenge Traditional Thinking
There are lots of beliefs that are just “given,” and everyone pretty much accepts them. When you challenge one of those “given,” you pique intrigue, and readers will click through to read. A piece of content with a title, “Introverts Make Great Leaders,” will certainly drive people to read what you have to say.
Whatever you post on social media must be engaging and compelling. But what makes it go viral is the packaging. Package yours using some of these tips, and you may just have the “golden ticket” to viral sharing.