We’ve seen it hundreds of times before: A picture of a cat doing something silly yet funny, Logan Paul being stupid, or a meme that’s adaptable in so many different ways. Viral content is constantly being shared on the internet. It’s something everyone is susceptible to and spreads faster than an unsupervised fire. But, as ubiquitous as it can sometimes be, creating viral content is incredibly difficult, and something that every marketer, expanding business, and brands building themselves on platforms like Instagram try to emulate.
Is there a formula for creating viral content? Not exactly, but by looking at and analyzing past successes, it’s possible to discover what drives viral marketing, and use and apply that information in future marketing endeavors.
Elicit emotions and evoke curiosity
Human beings are emotional creatures, so it comes as no surprise that we respond to emotional content. Videos that cause laughter, sadness, anger or wonder are more likely to be shared than clinical ones. It’s also worth noting that, contrary to the news and other mainstream media which tends to broadcast stories that are somewhat negative and focused around plight and fear, the viral content that gets spread the furthest tends to be uplifting and positive.
Unless the project consists of yet unseen content from some salient point in history, it helps to share content that is current and topical. This isn’t a hard and fast rule but rather a guideline that should be used at everyone’s discretion.
Ensure that the content is practical and useful
A lot of posts that go viral on the internet have a lot of practical value. That is, the information within the content can be applied in a practical way in real life. The content might not go viral in a global context, but it will get shared in localized and niche groups of people. Take a look at some of the most popular viral ads of all time for an idea of what gets shared quickly around the world.
Be easily understood
Viral content has to be easy to swallow. If the viewer has to think or waste any significant time trying to figure out what they’re seeing, they’re going to move on to the next piece of information in no time at all. Viral content does not necessarily have to be a lengthy essay, or in depth-analysis, it can be way less complicated than that. It can be a meme, well-shot photography, a short clip of a dog or cat doing something uncommon and yet funny. Content that has a potential of being shared by the millions can literally be anything.
Ensure that the content doesn’t reflect badly on the person sharing it
If sharing content casts the person sharing it in a negative light in any way, people are way less likely to do it. It’s therefore important to keep any partial opinions, unsavory politics and accidental biases out of the content to ensure that if the content is shared, the person sharing it won’t get a bad reputation from it. This won’t actively encourage people to share more, but it will discourage them from sharing.
Reach out to influencers
Having hundreds of thousands of followers in social media will undoubtedly make almost every share popular, and sometimes, that’s all that’s needed for a content to go viral. But, unfortunately, not everybody has a vast and established network of followers to address content to.
Avoid waiting for years on end until a significant number of subscribers is added to your channels. Reaching out to channels with an already-established base of followers is what can make things ramp up. A content research tool like Buzzsumo can ease the process of finding potential audiences. Writing down keywords related to the content is sufficient to receive a list of most shared pieces and who shared them. As they shared content relevant to yours and have shown interest in such topics in the past, chances are that they will also be interested in sharing that piece. A message or email to such individuals or brands can be all that’s needed for a new piece of content to reach out to millions.