Making your content viral is one of the best ways to garner cheap publicity. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done and often what goes viral, isn’t intentional. That being said, you can fairly well know what type of content can go viral.
Going viral without buying an expensive ticket
If you have the eyes for it, you can tell by the first look whether it will be popular online or not. You can tell if the content is just another of those run of the mill content, content with value that may not become popular or content that really can go viral. Remember, when it comes to online content, while it is important to add value, being too informative may not help because your readers aren’t necessarily all scholars.
Making a content go viral is a lot different and here are a few ways how you can tell whether a content will go viral or not.
- It’s all about length
This is one of the sure shot indicators. If the content is too small and if it has nothing extraordinary to state, it will not pass the viral test. Yes, there are some exceptions like if it is the first news item stating a celebrity’s death but more often than not content is a key indicator to know if something will go viral. You have those images going viral but when it comes to blog posts or web pages going the viral path, you need something that really catches the reader’s attention. Sports websites and entertainment sites often use catchy headlines to entice readers to read what may actually be a really dab piece of post. While catchy headlines can make readers open the page, if the post has nothing useful to offer, they aren’t likely to share it.
In fact, long posts receive more number of links as well, according to a research by John Doherty.
Here is one possible reason for this. You are more probably tweeting about something that really is immersive and a good read. A short 200 word blog post will rarely achieve that effect, no matter how good the writer is. Skimming over the topic rarely helps.
Buzzsumo analyzed over 100 million websites to draw up a conclusion of what goes viral and what does not. Here is what they found – content between 3000-10000 words were shared the most.
Sharing those cat pics wouldn’t be able to help you have content that goes viral always – you really need to have something that’s amazing. The competition is the toughest below 10000 words, as most people have blog posts below that. Go above 1000 and preferably over 2000 words and you would enter a sphere which has much lesser competition. Instead of writing 10 three hundred words posts that have little to offer, create that one post masterpiece.
- How affected are you?
Here is perhaps one of the most important things to know whether a content will go viral. Ask yourself after having a read – how affected are you? The blog post needs to inspire different emotions. It doesn’t really matter what type of emotions it is, be it anger, awe or anxiety – there needs to be a response. In other words, you as the reader need to feel the urge to do something after reading the post and as you would know it, posts like these doesn’t come often.
The above diagram was a result of a study that stated how emotions could affect the likelihood of a content going viral. Peculiarly, it showed that sadness can have a negative effect. You need to inspire people to share and it seems that sadness is one of those types of emotions that doesn’t really give you the ‘energy’ to share.
- How practical is it?
If you see that the content is useful and interesting, it would mean that it definitely would get recognition. While it can be difficult to predict whether any content would go viral just by checking out how practical, interesting or informative it is, it definitely is one of the factors that can contribute to the success.
Remember how we talked about Google giving credence to having content that has definite author profiles? While Google might have done away with the practice of showing the Google + profiles of writers besides a blog post, there is a lot that you can achieve by having a post with writers who are recognized. Let’s put an example. People who read a blog post by a well known author are going to share it irrespective of what the content is, though if the content adds value, it will definitely lead to more shares.
A website with authority will more likely have the content go viral than if the content was placed in a new site with less visitors. Yes, from the SEO perspective you do need engaging and interesting content but do not forget the publisher and the author. The reason for this is simple – well known authors and authoritative websites inspire trust.
- How humorous and witty is it?
Everybody likes to read content which is witty and has some humor in it. The humor doesn’t need to be direct. It doesn’t need to be over the moon. It can be subtle and often unassuming. You just have to have content that’s witty. In a study named From subservient chickens to brawny men, the conclusions were startling. While 62% of the ads were reserved by Fortune 500 companies, it was the smaller companies who were making the leeway, making as much as 60% of viral ads. How was that possible? Well, smaller companies use humor to market their products and if you laugh at something, you are going to share the laugh with others too.
- How much media did you use?
This is a no brainer. If you have written a post which is long, you need to have media. You can display a related YouTube video and use plenty of images. You could even have a short poll. However, one image per post is a must. Here is what Buzzsumo reports when it comes to articles with 1+ images versus articles with no images.
Nearly twice the number of people share blog posts that have images and that’s not surprising. Talking about images, you need to write in those meta tags of those images too – it helps your images be identified more easily in Google and leads to more shares. Buzzsumo estimates that the number of shares can be as high as three times.
The New York Times Story
Did you know that The New York Times carried out a story some years back where they interviewed over 2,500 people asking them why they share something?
The study stated different reasons including how people shared content in a bid to definte themselves to others and for self fulfillment apart from the usual reasons to share because they found something interesting and something that they really care about.
Here is something else that’s interesting. If you’re going to come out with content or blog posts with items or tips, have ten of them. 10 item tips and lists receive on average around 10,621 social shares.
The other factors
Do not forget that influencers can help you reach out more. Of course, you will get more influencers, if you can build in on your brand loyalty and brand image. Influencers will help you to get content viral a whole lot quicker. Paid influencers wouldn’t help, as they just aren’t interested about what you have to offer and most probably, they are not your target audience. Here is a report by Buzzsumo by how much influencers can help you.
You can even try out infographics to have more shares but infographics need to be backed by content. A page with just an infographic wouldn’t help much except generate interest. Getting content viral needs the proper strategy and the help of experts. While you might be the best in your subject expertise, making a content go viral is a lot more than just knowing about the subject. It’s about making something interesting and awe-inspiring enough for others to share it – and that’s no mean feat.