I have a silly little ritual when I publish content. As I push the ‘publish’ button I whisper, “Go forth and engage.” Engagement is a good indication of quality. But here's my dirty little secret. It's not good enough for me. As a content creator, I want more, I want reach ... I want my content to go viral (yes, I've actually had dreams about this). When people take the time to not only engage with but share your content too, it's a great validation - a virtual high five if you will. It implies that you have succeeded in creating content that resonates with your audience and that they value it enough to share with their various networks.
Established influencers like Richard Branson, Seth Godin or David Meerman Scott probably needn't do much more than push that 'publish' button for massive shares but for us mere marketing mortals it takes a lot of work and there is a lot of noise out there to break through.
A little while ago I raved about BuzzSumo, a content aggregating tool that uncovers content being shared most across social media platforms. For a content creator and marketer, MyPostBuilder Review ís an awesome resource. In conjunction with OkDork.com they recently released findings of what makes for potentially viral content. Here's what they found.
THE CONTENT THAT PEOPLE SHARE THE MOST
LONG FORM CONTENT GETS THE MOST LOVE
While we are all creating a load of short-form content to satisfy the limited attention spans of the audiences, the results point to the fact that it is indeed long-form content that people prefer to share most.
Content pieces of 3,000 – 10,000 words are shared at an average of 8,900 shares per piece, whereas content with less than 1,000 words gets shared at an average of around the 4,900 mark.
This points to a need for better quality longer form content that people can share across networks. If you’re in the habit of creating a lot of shorter content pieces, perhaps it’s time to tackle a great long-form piece?
VISUALS WORK TO GO VIRAL
It’s a point that has been discussed ad nauseam. Engagement is higher when there are visuals involved. Social media posts that include an image get more comments and likes than plain text updates. And it would appear that they contribute to shares too!
The BuzzSumo study looked at the share rates on Facebook and Twitter, comparing posts with images and without. The results indicate that twice as many people share posts that include images.
Bear in mind that this Video Resource Club Review didn’t analyse the actual ‘quality’ of the image in relation to the content, they simply looked for the presence of a visual or not. Undoubtedly though, we should be looking to include imagery that is appealing and relevant.
EMOTIVE AND EGOCENTRIC CONTENT WINS SHARES
In order to be moved to share content, that content needs to elicit an emotion for the person. The report revealed that the most shared content pieces evoked:
- Awe (25%)
- Laughter (17%)
- Amusement (15%)
BuzzSumo do mention that the line between laughter and amusement was difficult to establish at times, but they worked on the definition that amusement was entertaining and not necessarily laugh out loud funny.
Narcissism is another driver for viral content. We give our ego a boost by sharing content that fuels our identity or highlights our position on certain topics, beliefs, values and ideals. 6 of the 10 most shared articles during the 8-month research period were quizzes. The top spot belongs to BuzzFeed's “What Career Should You Actually Have” with a monstrous 4,9 million shares. (Apparently I should be a humanitarian. Considering that role is all about helping people which is what I strive for in marketing I suppose I'm not tooooo far off!)
INFOGRAPHICS AND LISTS THE MOST POPULAR SHARES
The importance of visual elements to increase the likelihood of sharing is once again highlighted in the next section. When looking to establish which content formats or styles are favoured the most for sharing, here’s BribeShare Review they found:
- Infographics – Way above average
- Lists – Above average
- Why post – Slightly above average
- What post – Slightly below average
- How-to article – Fairly below average
- Videos – Well below average
Infographics are able to convey a large amount of (sometimes complex) information in an easy to digest format that is visually appealing and therefore ideal for sharing.
A deeper look at the list posts, in particular, reveals that the magic number here is 10 with an average of 10,621 social shares. This was 4 times as many than the runner up, being 23. Third and forth spots were claimed by 16 and 24 respectively.
Right now if you'll excuse me I am off to create some awe-invoking, long-form content with beautiful pictures and quite likely a Top 10 list. When I'm done with that, I'll repurpose that Affiliate Marketing Profit Kit Review as an infographic! ;-)
Oh and when should you post this awesome content? Why, on a Tuesday, of course!
What is Viral Content?
In today’s content marketing landscape, writing viral content for your company is integral to your success. But what is viral content? It’s a word bandied about so frequently, but what truly makes content stick, and circulate rapidly from one web user to another? Viral content is compelling, and it comes in many forms. Viral content spreads across social networks like a virus, as people continuously share it with their friends.
A piece of viral content possesses those traits that demand to be shared: specifically, it should be impactful. Neil Patel summarizes Aristotle’s concept of the three principles of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. A viral piece of content should either:
- Contain some form of ethical petition
- Appeal to your audience’s emotions
- Possess a request that is justifiable and logical
Creating viral content means arousing emotions in your readers, giving useful advice, and often striking a positive note. However, viral content isn’t a simple concept. While there are techniques for how to write viral content, it can be difficult to predict whether a piece of content will take off or not. However, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of having widely-shared brand content. Our guide will walk you through viral content marketing: how it works, how to create it, how to tap into your readers’ emotions, and more. Learn how virality works and the secret to creating it for your company.
What Makes Content Go Viral?
How do content creators across the Internet manage to create viral content? This question has frequently been asked in the past, and Berger and Milkman performed a study in 2015, analyzing hundreds of New York Times articles for virality. They found that:
- In general, positive content is more viral than negative content.
- Positive content that arouses surprise, amusement and awe is more commonly shared than other types of positive content
- Negative content that evokes anger and anxiety is more frequently shared.
- People share content for many reasons, including as a chance to raise their social status, to get something back, and to help other people
These results about viral content are still relevant today. People share content because it brings out emotions in them and they want to allow others to experience the same feelings. Viral content marketing is about producing content that challenges the norm, which captivates and persuades.
If you want to get people to share your content socially, you want to arouse their emotions, either positively or negatively. The more stimulated they are, the more likely they are to share your content. Content that doesn’t inspire emotional provocation, or inspires low arousal, such as sadness, doesn’t have the same viral potential.
How Can I Create Viral Content?
Now comes the most crucial step: applying viral content creation to your business. How do you write viral content that connects with readers? There are several important steps to consider when beginning to create content:
- Determine the best medium for your content. What topic are you covering, and who is the intended audience? Is the content piece best suited for a video, infographic, or article format? While most viral content is still written, videos, infographics, and new alternative content formats are breaking into audience’s minds. Experimenting with the latest content types can be a boon, yielding additional shares on social media.
- Headlines are vital—test your article title in tools like to determine the best title for your piece of viral content
- Understand the importance of visual content. Whether you’re creating a video, written piece, or infographic, images are vital to the virality of your content. Choose them carefully, creating original graphics if necessary.
- Gather as much data as possible from your site and social media accounts. The more you post, the better you’ll be able to ascertain which post types are popular and determine trends you can use in the future. Creating viral content is about knowing what your customers enjoy reading, watching, or listening to.
- Build links in intelligent ways. Develop relationships with popular websites, and your content will get linked back to. This process can help boost virality.
- Write about practical topics. While viral content marketing that taps into high emotions is talked about most often, practicality is another essential element of viral content. People love sharing an article about something they need in their life, something helpful or necessary.
Creating viral content is all about utilizing your customers’ emotion potential, determining what they’ll best enjoy and share with their friends and coworkers. Follow these tips, and you can be on your way to becoming an expert in viral content marketing.