Anyone who creates written content for the Internet wants their posts and articles to go viral. A blog post that has gone viral is almost like free advertising – the creator writes it and it spreads throughout the Internet at no extra cost.
One thing to keep in mind is that the word “viral” is relative. For a website like Buzzfeed, an article getting millions of shares will have gone viral. Likewise, for someone who publishes a relatively unknown blog about woodworking (for example), 100 shares on social media would be “viral.”
What Makes Viral Content?
Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to make your content go viral. But there are a few “best practices” that will give it a better chance of spreading like wildfire. Keep in mind that in addition to all of these tips, your content must be compelling enough to give people a reason to share it.
1. Longer posts are shared more. This seems very counterintuitive, especially considering that people have a notoriously short attention span when browsing the web. It’s further complicated by the fact that people don’t really read content, rather, they skim it.
Yet best practices dictate that longer posts are shared more often than shorter ones. How long? Studies say that posts with 3,000+ words are shared much, much more than posts that are less than 1,000 words.
2. Infographics are very popular. An infographic basically puts information into visual form, making it much easier for your web visitors to digest. Further, attaching images to words is very powerful and really helps to drive home your message. While not every post/article will lend itself well to an infographic, use them when you can. But only use them if they add value to your post.
3. Keep it positive! Face it, people like to feel good, both about themselves and the world around them. It’s no wonder that positive stories are the ones that seem to go viral. Humor also tends to get shared a lot. After all, who doesn’t like a good laugh in the middle of the work day?
4. Actionable and useful content. In other words, content that helps people do something or solve a problem. I threw in the word “actionable” because for a post to be useful, it must give readers concrete steps on what they need to do. For example, the tips I’m giving you about helping your posts go viral are actionable tips. You can incorporate them into your own content today. Nothing is stopping you.
5. Appeal to your reader’s emotions. Emotions are powerful, and they often motivate people to act. How often have you seen an outrageous news story about animal abuse (for example) that ends up all over the Internet? It’s because stories like that anger people, and they want to share their anger with others. This quickly builds momentum.
Anger isn’t the only emotion, though. You also have emotions fear, joy, awe and even lust. Fear is another big one. When people are scared they want to warn others. Fear gets people to act. Lust appeals to people’s desire for things, not just money. People often lust over money, houses, cars, electronic gadgets (like me) and so forth. People like to share content that is lustful (i.e. food porn).
6. Content is shared more on Tuesday. The study I found didn’t give a reason for Tuesday being the best day to post new content, but studies show it is. This is where strong website analytics comes in. Study your website’s stats and find out when people are reading and sharing your posts the most. It might be on Tuesday, it might not. As long as you know the day, you can leverage that to your advantage.
7. Lists are always popular. Lists are great. They’re easy to read (scannable). They organize the information in an easy-to-understand fashion. And lists just seem to draw people in. I always find myself clicking on list-type articles when they pop up in my Facebook or Twitter feeds. I also tend to share them more. Try to incorporate lists into your blog posts and gauge the results (again, analytics is your friend). Remember, a list of 7-10 items always work the best.
Make Your Own Content Go Viral
Try to incorporate one or more of the above tips when writing your content, whether it’s a blog post, article or anything else. Don’t try to use every tip, but pick one or two that you can use without much hassle. Once you publish the content, watch the page stats closely to see how much attention it gets.