Viral is the buzzword of the day, it’s true, but do you ever feel like one of those street-corner hawkers of the 40’s and 50’s? “Greeeeeat content! Get’cher great content here!” You’ve written this fantastic piece you just know will revolutionize your industry (or at the very least cause a bit of debate), but not if your three readers don’t share it.
Frustrating isn’t it. I mean, it’s easy when you have 5,000 readers and 10% are those greatly coveted “influencers,” but how do you get noticed if you haven’t already been noticed? It’s a long road, my friend, but at the end of the day it can be done.
For most, viral is “an instant overnight success after years of hard work.” All of a sudden they hit the jackpot of interesting content. The mother lode of communicative compositions. The golden pot of painstakingly precise prose…
It’s short-term fame, however. When everything is said and done, viral content generally brings a little bit of joy as people pour into peruse, but it’s short-lived. Most of those visitors are fair-weather friends, quickly gone once the fervor drops. The people who stay make viral content – or any kind of content – worthwhile. For them, create quality, consistent content and build a solid long-term following.
1. Don’t be a Debbie Downer.
Everybody has something to vent about, but even infamous ranters (rantors? rantees? those who rant?) often have a humorous quality to their posts. For most of us, though, it’s best to keep a positive attitude. Research has proven that positive content directly correlates with follower growth.
Also, one of the reasons people share content is to enrich the lives of their peers. Nevermind the increasing number of “lift you up” posts on Facebook, or “we can do it” tweets on Twitter. People are looking for those helpful, feel good, interesting, amazing, positive outcome sort of posts. Keep it light! And if you can’t keep it light, intermittent pictures of cats and dogs seems to go over well.
2. Write a few lists.
Except for images, list format posts are the most easily digested form of content on the internet. Readers share list-based articles (listicles) more than any other form of online article. With so many things to see and do online, people want to take in as much as they can, in the shortest amount of time and with the least effort.
Listicles provide an overview of a topic, but won’t bog a skimming reader down with details. That’s what links are for. You can still direct users to more detailed information if they want it.
It’s kind of a win-win, really. You get to occasionally write a lighter piece that isn’t so detail-oriented, and only the people who want the details will get them.
3. Make it informative, entertaining, helpful, positive, interesting…
As much as you may want to write the journalism piece of the year, this doesn’t happen very often to everyday people. Not everyone is an Ed Bradley, David Brinkley or Barbara Walters.
That doesn’t mean you can’t make it your goal, however. Every piece should have an “emotion” goal of some type. When you start out with the idea, ask yourself, “What kind of emotion do I want to get out of this piece?” Then write to your little heart’s content with that objective in mind.
4. Ask like your life depended on it.
Maybe you feel like your content is compelling enough that people will share it just because it’s good. Well, it’s not going to share itself. Your content may evoke awe, or you may be like every other would-be internet rock star.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be the overnight sensation. There’s nothing wrong with thinking your content is good. However, it will do you well to encourage sharing, not just assume it’s going to happen.
Follow the steps of the offline business ventures; make your product or service easy to buy. Ask for the sale with a call to action.
Make it easy to share. Don’t be afraid to have that “ShareThis” sign up with a quick way to get your pages to their connections. If a viewer has to go through too many steps to share your content, they will abandon the process.
Conclusion | Muffin Give Aways
So what have we learned? Positive, interesting or entertaining listicles that are easy to share go viral!
Well, okay, it’s not as easy as that. One of our viral pieces was an infographic that took a month worth of research and a week worth of design, layout etc. to make. Four years later and “Dancing the Google Dance” is still getting visits. However, the notoriety gained from a viral post is short-lived unless you have already developed a process for steady long-term growth.
Although the chances of creating a powerful viral post are slim, if your post does go viral and you have prepared a strong marketing plan, you will reap great rewards! If none of this work to make your content shareable, there are always muffin give aways!