This article was contributed by Lisa Orto.
If you think that viral content is the result of strictly planned actions, you are very wrong. In most cases, the authors of such content are sincerely surprised it gets so many views.
Predicting whether this or that post will be viral is impossible. However, there are some factors that a lot of popular posts share. Here are just some of them.
1) Starting with the basics: the headline
The headline is the first thing people pay attention to; if it is not capturing, your content won`t become viral even if the content is great. Marketing specialists say that the headlines with the following words attract people`s attention the most:
- Amazing, unbelievable, interesting ("10 Amazing places in our planet", "5 Unbelievable facts about human brain");
- the secret, tip, lifehack ("Secrets of perfect makeup", "Tips on creating superb interior design");
- big/huge ("Big potential of contextual advertising");
- right, clever, proven (yes, we also hope to become viral) ("The right way to make coffee");
- history ("Unknown history of famous companies");
- science/scientific ("Scientific basis of healthy eating");
- necessary, important, main ("List of necessary things for newborns", "Important vitamins for better health").
You need to work hard on your headline, as it is the key factor for actually reading and sharing your post. If you cannot think of something capturing and creative at the moment, take some time, think about it and then write when you have inspiration.
2) Keep up to date
To be the best in your niche, you need to write about the urgent matters. Popular topics will allow you to improve the interaction of your content with the audience. In 2015, zombie theme was very popular. This simple post is about a cruise in 'the Walking Dead` style, but it caused quite a reaction. One and a half million Facebook shares proves that. Who would have thought that zombies would become viral?
3) Be amusing
People love sharing entertaining content. They want to have fun reading it and sharing it with their friends if they do. Let people laugh and you may find your post becoming viral. For example, this fun article at New Yorker got two times more shares than any other post there in 2015.
4) Use your heart
Many content marketing specialists and bloggers forget that people are emotional creatures. Thus, it is better to create content that evokes strong emotions. A good example here is the 2011 post by Buzzfeed, thanks to which people relived the strongest emotions of the year. The post has been viewed more than 12 million times.
5) Tell people the secrets of success
All people want to be successful and they don`t mind sharing content that is in some way helpful for achieving this success. "How successful people stay calm" is an example of the top posts on LinkedIn that got over 3.6 million of views.
6) Hottest content for social media
If you post your content on Facebook or other social networks, here is what people usually share the most.
- information about contests;
- helpful tips;
- warnings about different dangers;
- entertaining content;
- motivating and inspiring posts;
- unusual information;
- posts that show user`s attitude towards something or someone.
7) Try different ideas
On the Internet, no one knows for sure what will become viral. The best strategy is to be open for experiments, to learn lessons from both success and failure and develop your skills. The best way to become a great poker player is to play as often as you can. The same works here: to create great content, you need to have a lot of practice and analyze your work.
8) Inspire people
Inspiring quotes, or pictures with encouraging text, have become very popular on the Internet. Inspiring content can have many different forms, starting from pictures and finishing with whole stories. Simple quotes work perfectly, too.
Buzzfeed still remains the master of creating the most viral posts. And different lists have been the most popular content form for a while now.
This list of 51 of the most beautiful sentences in literature got almost 9.5 million of views and more than 1.4 million shares.
9) Don`t tell but show
2014 showed that Pinterest was the fourth biggest traffic source for web-resources. Statistics show that posts with pictures get 53% more likes than simple text. No matter what your site is about, your content marketing strategy has to include visual content, as well. Pictures capture people`s attention and show them what the post is going to be about.
10) Use cute animals and children
Yes, you got it right. Posts with cats have become sort of cliché on the Internet. Dress your cat in a funny costume on Halloween, and a picture or video of that has all the chances of becoming viral. It doesn`t have to be cats, though. All cute animals or kids may work.
Here is a good example from Gizmodo. You`d expect to see a post about pets on Buzzfeed or something similar, but not on the site where entertaining content is not the main theme. Nevertheless, it was the biggest Gizmodo post of 2015.
11) Be ambiguous
People often get into Internet debates; it is a fact. Any controversial posts published anywhere can provoke disagreements. Nevertheless, people share such posts to show their point of view on this topic and say whether they agree with the statements or are indignant over them.
12) Warn people about important things
People are eager to share content that warns about something important or dangerous, for example, about different scams. For instance, the most popular post on WebMD.com in 2015 was a review of some medical products. It got four times more shares than any other article on the site.
13) Create content you would want to share yourself
Before publishing something to some social network, ask yourself if you`d want to like or share it if you saw it in your feed. If your answer is negative, think about the reasons and start improving your content until your answer is "yes". If you wouldn’t share it, why should other people?
14) Surprise people
People love sharing content that surprises them. They enjoy sharing new researches and tendencies especially if they are in any way controversial. The most popular post on London Evening Standard in 2015 was an article with important and unexpected information. It turns out that champagne is able to prevent dementia and Alzheimer`s disease. Great news! Cheers!
15) Offer quizzes and polls
Everyone loves quizzes, especially if these quizzes tell people something about them. Users also like interactive content. The majority of interesting quizzes induce people to share the results with their friends. It works even better if the result reveals some positive sides of a person. For example, this quiz – "What is your most dominant character trait" gained more than 4 million shares.
There is no universal formula for creating viral content. Some posts just make it to the top and some don`t. However, reading and analysing many viral posts, you get the idea of what most of them look like. Read such posts and try to follow our tips and who know, maybe the next trending article will be yours.
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