Creating Viral Worthy Content
Memes. Gifs. YouTube clips. These media all have something in common: access. No matter the media channel, each piece of content has the power of being transferred, reposted, and sought out among millions of viewers and consumers. Details such as post timing and emotional resonance all can help to nudge people to spread the word. Here are a few tips and tricks to help your content tidbits reach the masses — fast.
Why Content Goes Viral
While not everything is better when shared (like asking kindergartners to share their crayons!), people love to share information, whether it’s a life hack, the latest cat meme, or political campaign update. A New York Times survey found that people like to share information for 5 main reasons:
The key takeaway here is that all 5 reasons for sharing revolve around the desire for building and maintaining relationships with our peers — in other words, the information that’s being shared should offer some emotional or instructive value.
In fact, 94% of those surveyed say they carefully take into consideration how the information they share will be useful to the recipient.
Virality of “valuable” content
When it comes to creating valuable content, length and imagery are significant factors.
Sources show long-form content (2000+ words) receives roughly 2x as many shares as short-form content (<1000 words). Content with compelling imagery also receives at least 2x as many social shares compared to content without any imagery at all. This tells us 2 things:
- Readers like detailed, well-thought-out information
- Readers like quick, easy-to-digest information
These may seem to contradict each other, but they are actually quite complementary considering the main channel that viral content travels through: social media. The headline and the imagery will garner audience interest, while the detailed interior content will prompt the reader to share.
Viral Content Is Timely
Staying up to date and trend-current is key to push content from viewed to viral. Viral content seems to be everywhere all at once, as if it was planned weeks or even months in advance. Though some pieces do take time to produce — especially when research is involved — much of it is built on the fly in order to ride the coattails of current events.
To produce effective content quickly, be prepared to work with content you already have on hand. If you’ve prepared content for a holiday or a televised speech, consider whether it can be developed to fit with specifics from the news. The key here is to remain agile and be ready to pivot your content theme at a moment’s notice.
Viral Content Doesn’t Sleep
Not all content that goes viral does so overnight. Consider the fact that millions of pieces of content are shared across social media every single day. For content to go viral, a post requires constant promotion — often across several forms of media — before it begins to take root.
More often than not, a good chunk of promotion will consist of some kind of financial backing as well, especially during the early stages of exposure. It’s not uncommon to spend a few bucks in order to increase your reach across various social channels or for placement in a major publication. To keep content moving, it’s crucial to get it in front of as many people as possible, which takes both time and (nowadays) money.
While each piece of viral content is unique, these steps will typically get results. To varying degrees, each aspect presented here can translate across all media and within any industry. There’s never a guarantee your content will go viral, but by keeping posts valuable, clear, and timely, your readers will hopefully keep sharing your posts. Remember, more readers are just a click away!