Creating viral content is not easy, but there are key components many viral pieces of content tend to have in common.
We are not considering existing following or authority of the content creator as one of the components, as naturally someone who already has a following is more likely to have content shared and visible due to critical mass.
This is usually because such people (or influencers) have already worked out how to create viral content and also understand their audience, what they want and how as a creator they can duplicate their success.
With this in mind, here we share 8 key components to help you create viral posts.
1) Teach – deliver a something to the listener, viewer or reader that is different, interesting, new or unique.
Regardless of platform, telling or sharing something with someone they did not know before, or have not seen before is a great content strategy. The news provides the perfect example of this approach. Trending topics that impact people tend to get shared. Currency, as in timeliness, is what makes news viral. So why not employ similar approaches with your content. But remember, teaching or telling people something new or unique is also an awesome approach when it comes to evergreen content creation as well. So, whether your content goes viral or not, it is still important to any content creation. Also, currency to deliver timely information in times of crisis must also not go unmentioned, that is, potentially problem solving.
2) Entertain – deliver a message in a way that keeps peoples’ attention.
All types of media are constantly bombarding content consumers with information and entertainment. This can be highly distracting. And it is keeping someone distracted which works best for viral content. Algorithms (the programs platforms use to deliver content to audiences) favour content and posts that can keep people on a platform longer. Keeping your content moving or flowing quickly keeps peoples’ attention longer. For video and audio, we refer to this as ‘retention rate’ for website and social media content we call it a ‘bounce rate’. Content with high engagement, clicks and retention tends to be promoted organically. This in turn provides feedback data as to who is most likely to consume the content.
Side note: Content creators usually want to tick both boxes when it comes to entertainment and education so they have coined the term, ‘edutainment‘ to describe these two primary goals.
3) Inspire – inspiration sparks someone into action, so you want your content to have people act on it.
This does not simply mean a call to action. It can be anything that motivates someone to take any action as a result of your shared content. Basically, beyond consuming what they saw or heard, they do something with it. It is offering an opportunity for transformation whether emotional, physically or mental. It may spark them to share or comment, or discuss the content with others. But the desire to do something with it is a desirable outcome.
4) Bring Value – is when you post or share content that a reader or viewer feels they would pay for.
Make people feel your post or content is a bargain. Making someone feel like they got the best end of the deal on what you offered is actually delivering on your value proposition. So, what is your value proposition? Sometimes you make this clear at the outset depending upon the platform. Other times it may be the experience of the content itself. Humor would be a perfect example of an undisclosed value proposition. The value proposition is really answering the question… What is it your content is actually deliverying to those who see or hear it? Why would they bother reading or watching?
5) Tell stories – stories make ideas and concepts stick.
For thousands of years humans have been telling stories. This is at the core of all communication. For centuries it has kept people safe or forewarned. Telling stories allows people to remember what was said or so they can recall it and relate to it. But it goes beyond that, stories are narratives we like to repeat to ourselves and others. They encapsulate emotions, experience and humanity. Viral content often shares a story, but it is relatability that makes it stick.
6) Be remarkable – means make people want to share and talk about your post.
Much like someone sharing the latest news with someone else, your content needs to achieve that goal to go viral. Remarkability is a result of inspiration, where someone just feels the need to tell someone else. Much like a snowball effect, depending upon relevance and emotion, remarkable content tends to be shared and reshared until shareability is somewhat exhausted.
7) Engagement – interact in real time with those who take time to comment or share your content or reach out to you in response to it.
There are two forms of engagement one where the consumers of content interact with your posts, the other is where you get involved. Both are equally important. High engagement is often a signal to the algorithm that a piece of content is ‘quality’. Not necessarily in the sense of its production, but in the sense of what it is delivering. High engagement, includes comments, shares and use of emoticons other than likes. Given the location of the like button and its appearance on most social platforms and the convenience to just click it while scrolling, the like button is given less weight than other forms of engagement. When you see engagement on your content, you should engage back. This not only helps drive more traffic to your content, but also helps you build a community. And community comes back to relatability.
8) Relevance – sees the content resonating with the person in either a tangible or intangible way.
While probably less important than the other components of viral content, this is still worth mentioning. Viral posts tend to be shared among like-minded people. So, relevance certainly can play a role. But ultimately shareability which is at the core of what makes something ‘viral’ needs for people to be connected in some way, in such a way they know others in their network will resonate with your content. It is an underlying relevance that helps viral content spread. It needs to strike a chord with those networks it was shared too for them to be inspired to do the same.
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