10 Best Ways to Make Your Content Go Viral – Insights from 100 Million Articles

No matter what images you create or how crisp and original is the content, sometimes a content created to go viral never materializes. But some content pieces become a global sensation in no time. Every day we come across articles, images, videos, or memes that are widely shared across the web on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and their core concepts inspire millions of people.

Viral content has become a tool in the hands of businesses that use it to project their social media pages, website or blog and attract new customers. Technically, viral content also earns backlinks to a focused page which holds immense value to improve the ranking of a website.

What makes content go viral? We can track some features of the most shared content out there. The inherent characteristics of content, such as its artistic value, uniqueness, innovation, or usefulness to masses are also ingredients of viral content. However, its worthiness and relevancy to current affairs make it compelling to go viral. Sometimes the external factors, such as the reach and influence of the sharer, or its appeal to multiple channels play the role to make the content viral.

Neetzan Zimmerman is known for his knack for viral content. He worked at Gawker and made it the most visited blog, attracting millions of visitors to his posts every day. Zimmerman disclosed the secret sauce of viral content by saying, “Nowadays it’s not important if a story’s real, the only thing that matters is whether people click on it.” He encapsulated his views on the topic by enlisting 5 steps in the article This Is How You Make Something Go Viral: An Impractical Guide. Zimmerman took this angle on the subject, and there are other factors too.

As a content marketing agency, we understand the value of content that works and how it can fuel the campaigns we design for our clients. We engage our very own content writers, SEO experts, social media mavens, and creative resources to create brand stories that can attract the right audience with the right content.  

Interesting storytelling

Starbucks, the famous coffeehouse chain, is known for its content strategy that is marked with creative storytelling techniques that are different from typical branded content and paid marketing campaigns.

 In 2019 the Starbucks launched ‘Starbucks Stories’ to make a social impact with stories that people can relate to. Video and audio illustrations tagged as #ToBeHuman, Starbucks illustrated the personal experiences of its customers and employees.

#ToBeHuman is one of the many ways using which Starbucks is making its content go viral. The content strategy features stories that as human we can relate to. It talks about relations, arouses emotions and reactions, nurtures the element of personal attachment with the brand and most importantly everyone loves to share these stories.

The world-famous content aggregator, BuzzSumo analyzed over 100 million articles to list down the ingredients of most shared content. Let’s have a look at 10 best ways to make your content go viral.

  1. Long-form content gets more social shares than short-form content.
  2. Having at least one image in your post leads to more Facebook shares
  3. Having at least one image in your post leads to more Twitter shares
  4. Invoke awe, laughter, or amusement. Appeal to people’s narcissistic side
  5. People love to share lists and infographics
  6. 10 is the magic number for lists
  7. People tend to share content that looks trustworthy
  8. Getting one extra influencer to share your article has a multiplier effect
  9. Repromote your old content regularly
  10. The best day overall to publish content for social shares is Tuesday

Each of the findings by the BuzzSumo team is self-explanatory. You can read the complete article here – How to Create Viral Content: 10 Insights from 100 Million Articles

Content that evokes good feelings

It is an open secret among content marketing strategists that content with very strong emotions gets more viral than other types. As a user of content, if you are emotionally aroused, you feel happy or excited, or if you are simply inspired by the innovative idea then there is the possibility that you would end up sharing it. Emotions like a moment of joy on a vacation, or beautiful natural surroundings, new invention, human excellence, culture, art, or an act of kindness by a celebrity are the types of ‘good feeling’ content that goes viral.

Influencer’s mantra 

video post from Elon Musk went viral with some 33,000 retweets and over 270,000 likes. Although it showed simple dance moves there is a legacy of emotions attached to the sharer. He is doing things that are simply out of this world, having emotions of facing challenges and overcoming obstacles – inspiring millions of people every day and they wait for something new, exciting and awful from him.

Create content worth sharing on social media

How to make a post go viral? It looks unfair to label the content that usually goes viral on social media due to its diversity but just to give a perspective that what mostly works. Examining the social media the types of content that become the most shared content are breaking news, heartwarming stories, practical advice, and behind the scenes content.

According to a social media study by PEW, over 2.5 billion people around the globe use social media and the number is growing rapidly. So, to make the content go viral, it must be created in a way that can engage the audience on different social media channels.

Here are some interesting social media insights from TrackMaven that analyzed 1.5 million Facebook posts from 6000 brands. The results summarize how social media can serve as the impetus to make content go viral. Here are the findings:

  • Weekend posts generate a 25% higher engagement on Facebook.
  • Interaction levels vary by industry.
  • Use hashtags for better engagement on Facebook.
  • Native video content has the best organic reach of all types of content on Facebook.
  • YouTube traffic is the best in terms of engagement and lower bounce rates.
  • Instagram has the highest conversion rate from browser to shopper
  • Pinterest converts too, but it takes time.
  • Facebook is great for referral campaigns.
  • Instagram is a clear winner in viral marketing.
  • Your top promoters have less than 500 followers on Twitter.
  • Content on LinkedIn comes with the highest level of credibility.
  • Twitter users are impatient, they expect an immediate reply.
  • Facebook is your social network if you’re selling to seniors.
  • Social media have the greatest impact on the middle of your conversion funnel.
  • Email is the clear winner in ROI.

Keep the content visual

As content marketers, every day we take insights and find that content with great visuals, infographics, and videos get more reach and reactions than plain articles. Infographics have become the Holy Grail that every content strategist wants to use to make content go viral.

The interesting visuals are useful in grabbing the attention of the audience which is bored by the mundane nature of social media. People keep on scrolling down to their social media pages, without reading anything, until they come across that attracts their attention and compels them to click on the link or read the content shared.

Visuals that mostly go viral include infographics, eye-catching photos, inspiring videos, quotes, colorful call-to-actions, visualized stats, tutorials, screenshots, quizzes, puzzles, and memes.    

Use catchy headlines and attention-grabbing images

We, as users of the content every day, do not start reading from the top of the page and peruse every line; rather we read only what is prominent and get attracted to bold lines, headings and catch images. If we take a look at the heat map of a web reader then we can understand that the majority of users just read the first heading of the content, read a few lines below, look at the images and then skip lines down to the footer. If the very beginning of the content engages the readers then the probability of sharing that piece of content increases, otherwise, users just flip to other pages.

When it comes to grabbing the attention of the users at the beginning then headings and titles are most important. Titles must be interesting, should have a number in it, must be short and pith and filed with keywords and catchy phrases. The second most important thing in content is the visuals it shows.

By looking at the visuals, users of the content try to ascertain either they should read it or skip. If visuals are interesting then it’s more likely that the piece would be shared. Creative images and visuals are among the most important reasons that users would click it.      

Trending and newsworthy content

Content that is fresh, recent and trending grab more attention of the web users. Not only from the perspective that many people search for it but search engines also give priority to fresh content and place them on top of search results. This is where content strategists can grab space and make content go viral. As search results fetch everything relevant to that query; it can be an SEO article, news, video, social media page, images or FAQs.

People tend to share that type of content that arouses interest, exciting, filled with facts and surprises many. New York Times surveyed 2500 users to determine why content goes viral and why people share a specific piece of content. The findings were that the content most shared is entertaining, gives good feelings, helps them connect with others, informative and self-fulfilling, and is relevant to what they feel about on the topic.Every business, brand and content marketer aspires to go viral with interesting content and which can attract millions of people to their creation. However, viral content for businesses and brands is not just about the reach it is also about reaching the right people. The Proceed team understands it well and can help you get in front of the right audience with interesting storytelling.