For any internet marketer, having content go viral is something of a holy grail. Of course, there is no way to guarantee that content will go viral; however, there are some things that you can do to improve your chances.
Jonah Berger and Katy Milkman wrote a research paper entitled, “What Makes Online Content Go Viral?” In their study, they found some common features in viral content.
Four Common Aspects of Viral Content
So, in this post, we’ll examine the common aspects of viral content. With this, you should be able to improve your content and the chances that it will take off.
According to Berger and Milkman, there are four basic components of viral content, positivity, practicality, emotion and human interest.
Number 1 – Positivity
Positive content is more likely to go viral than negative content. For instance, Upworthy is a website that consistently creates viral content. It is a site that focuses almost exclusively on positive, uplifting human interest stories.
Another example is animal videos. Cat videos are consistently popular and frequently go viral. The reason? They are upbeat.
Number 2 – Practicality
Practical and useful content is more likely to be shared. Some examples of practical content are how-to articles or videos, product demonstrations or reviews.
Be certain to explain to your audience exactly how to use your content. Practical articles and videos should finish with a section devoted to concrete steps that you want people to take.
Number 3 – Emotion
While positive content is more likely to go viral than negative content, content that evokes high-arousal emotions are also more likely to go viral than content that lacks high emotion.
What is high-arousal emotion?
It is any intense emotion, whether positive or negative such as surprise, lust, fear, joy, anxiety or anger. If your content taps into any of these powerful emotions, it has a better chance of being remembered and shared.
Number 4 – Human Interest
Human interest stories are more prone to going viral than other types of stories. Again using the example of Upworthy. Most of its content is made up of positive, human-interest stories.
Number 5 – Steps to Make your Online content Shared
Here are some practical steps that you can take to make your online content more likely to be shared. As I have mentioned in my previous article, your headline is the most important aspect of your content, whether it is an article, slide deck, infographic or video.
Take the most time working on your headline. It’s also a good idea to try a few versions of your headline and do some A/B testing to see which headline gets the most juice.
Start your headline with a question word, think of the basic formula for a news story, who, what, where, when and how.
After you’ve posted your content, study your traffic data and audience feedback to see if you can figure out why your posts did or didn’t work for you. Keep experimenting and tweaking until you see your traffic improve.
Set your content to be released at these golden time-slots, 9 a.m. and noon. The reason why is these are when people are just getting to their desks and are most likely to check Facebook or other social media feeds.
Be patient. Some content takes weeks or months to catch on and go viral. If you make the front page of Reddit, that is one of the best ways to get a burst of epic traffic.
If you create content that is either, positive, emotional, useful, or of human interest, you will significantly increase the chances of it taking off and going viral. As always, test, test, test. Study your results. Look at which content does the best and which does the worst.
Try to figure out what common elements are present in your most successful content and what is missing in your least.
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All the best,