December 22, 2014

5 Ways To Help Your Content Go Viral

Thanks to social media, small business owners and big brands have become obsessed with a common goal – getting their content to go viral. We’ve all seen that funny cat video on YouTube with 2 million views and know we want to know how that can be us. How we can use content and viral marketing to run, grow and promote our business. Whether you realize it or not – you’re a content marketer now, using your blog and your brain to publish content that people simply can’t resist passing on to their friends. Or at least that’s the goal.

If you’ve ever hit the ‘publish’ button on a post to only be met by crickets, you know that getting your content to go viral isn’t as easy as we’d like it to be. However, there are some things you can do to increase your chances of viral success. What are they?

Take a look at the five tips below.

Master the Call to Action

A strong piece of content that doesn’t include an equally strong call to action is a piece of content wasted. One of the most important things you need to do as a content marketer is learn how to create calls to action that compel people to act and take action. If you want someone to retweet your post, to share it on Facebook or to post it to their LinkedIn group, you need to give them a strong reason to do so and you must tell them what that reason is. Sometimes it can be as simple as adding “please RT” or “please vote” to the end of your tweet and sometimes it’s going to take a little bit more ingenuity. But right there, in that moment and that CTA, is your chance to influence someone toward a viral action. Don’t let it slip by.

Act to engage the bored

When you’re trying to get a piece of content to go viral, your audience is not simply the person most interested in buying your product or using your service. You’re going after the “I’m bored” the “I hate my job” clan, as well. These are the people who spend their entire day sitting in an office reading blogs, scanning Twitter, and messing around on Facebook simply because they’re bored or have nothing better to do. To go viral, your content should be something that even normal people (aka people not affiliated with your world) will enjoy sharing and passing around.

Be conscious of publishing times

This sounds pretty logical, right? People need to be around in order to share your content. So if you’re publishing your killer blog post at 6pm Eastern on a Friday afternoon, you’ve probably already botched your attempt. Because no one is around. They’re off for the weekend or, if they’re on the West Coast, they’re getting ready to be off for the weekend. Be conscious of factors like this and plan around them. Research shows that people are more likely to share content earlier in the week, so if that’s your audience, that’s when you should be posting your most viral-worthy content. Also be aware of the time. If you’re a West Coast publisher, that may mean you need to write posts in advance and schedule them for earlier in the morning. If you’re posting content at 1pm Pacific, you’ve nearly missed an East Coasters entire day. This stuff matters.

Create stuff people want to read

Okay, so going viral isn’t just about poking the bored, it’s also about putting out material that provides real value. What does that really mean? For many audiences, it may mean being the first to break a big news story, holding a contest that generates a lot of interest through its prizes, or publishing an instructional How To that breaks down a problem for a large segment of your audience. If you’re not sure what your audience is looking for, I’d encourage you to check out this post on how to sculpt great content from the SEOmoz blog which I think does a great job illustrating how easy it can sometimes be to give people exactly what they’re after.

Break down the barriers

We’ve talked about this before – it you want people to share your content, you need to break down the barriers and encourage them to take that act. That means using social media buttons to make it easy for users to share your content, to use tools to see how they naturally share your content, and really making it part of your process.

Make no mistake – getting your content to go viral isn’t an easy task. If it was, we’d all be able to do it and it would lose its value. However, the list above runs through a couple of things you should be doing to at least increase your odds.

13 Comments ▼

Lisa Barone


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

13 Reactions

  1. Your title is more telling than most people will realize. You can’t “make” content go viral, you can only help it. People are unpredictable creatures, so there will always be some uncertainty. However, these guidelines will give you a definite head-start in the right direction.

  2. Thanks for sharing these valuable tips to go viral with content!

  3. In terms of Twitter, I think it’s also important to tweet your content more than once as well as at the right time. Lots of users have hundreds or thousands of people they’re following so it’s not easy to get your content noticed – a great headline will help your content stand out.

  4. Interesting read, it does shed a little more light on how to expand ones audience in ways I never really took into account like time. I blog more so as a hobby it’s still good info to know. Thank you

  5. The west coast versus east coast time difference didn’t even occur to me until just now. Very often I’m busy with clients in the morning and don’t get around to sharing a blog post or new article until late in the day. I bet I’ve been missing the best times to share because I’m on pacific time.
    Suzanne

  6. Another great post. More arrows in the quiver. Just asking people to re-tweet, and sending them to our friends is a huge key to success.

  7. Hey Lisa – I like your point about publishing times. It seems really obvious but as they say, it can be hard to see the tree through the forest. I think a lot of people publish at inopportune times because thats the only time that works for them.

    It always seems like its the simple things that go viral so maybe thats a key also.

    Thanks again!

  8. All these ideas do make a lot of sense

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