October 23, 2014

Doing it Gangnam Style: Create Viral Content Successfully

gangnam style

Having a piece of content go viral is a dream for most marketers. It’s the ultimate reward because viral content, after all, means something was so popular that it snowballed into more shares, clicks, visibility, etc. and a few extra sales are bound to come from it all. Unfortunately, creating viral content isn’t easy.

When people think of the term “viral,” funny YouTube videos come to mind. Unless it makes sense for your company to create another Gangnam style video, this type of popularity seems out of reach for many.

While it is difficult to create viral content, it isn’t impossible. There are a few things marketers and content writers can do to work together and create something that has all the features of something that could go viral.

Top 5 Ways to Help You Create Viral Content

No matter what industry or what type of company you run, there are a few different steps you can take to help give your content a chance to go viral.

Step #1: Understand Your Audience and Why and Where They Share Content

Going viral is all about having your audience share your content, so it helps to know why they do. In general, people share content because it offers great information, but because it hits some sort of an emotional cord, whether that be confusion, humor, sadness, etc. (Step 3 below discusses this more in-depth and how to create content with these emotions in mind).

Follow the trends of your audience and in your industry by looking at your database, social accounts and even talking to customer service to determine where your industry is most likely to share content.

Step #2: Figure Out What You Want to Communicate Through Your Content

Before you sit down to write your content, you’re going to want to know exactly what you want to communicate to make sure that your vision doesn’t get lost as you throw in all the viral features. Make sure that your content is relevant and something you want representing your company.

If a piece of content goes viral, this could be what your company is “known for” in the future.

Step #3: Create Your Content With Certain “Triggers of Fascination” in Mind

Founder of My Web Presenters Neil Davidson explained on Kissmetrics that there are seven triggers of fascination for people:

  • Passion/lust
  • Alarm
  • Mystique
  • Power
  • Prestige
  • Rebellion
  • Trust

People share what they are fascinated in and these are some of the things that get people fascinated. Try to have your content center around something that evokes one of these emotions and it will be more likely to go viral.

Step #4: Don’t Forget to Use Visuals as Much as Possible

This might be an obvious point, but it’s one worth mentioning because it is so important. Content that utilizes a lot of photos and videos has a better chance of going viral.

It is the headline and the photo that will catch the attention of readers first, so don’t expect a piece of content with one small picture to go viral.

Step #5: Look at Your Results and Try, Try Again

There is a chance that the first time you try to create viral content it isn’t going to work. In fact, that’s almost a certainty. It takes a long, long time to create a piece of viral content, so you always want to look at your results and try again. If you didn’t get as many social shares as you have in the past, evaluate what you did differently and try something else.

Creating viral content is all about experimenting.

It’s important to realize that even if your content doesn’t go viral, you’re at least writing content that has the features of something that could go viral. In other words, keep doing what you’re doing and you have a chance. After a while, utilizing some of the above tips should help your content gain a little bit more traction if nothing else, and that’s never a bad thing.

Have you produced content that’s gone viral and, if so, what did you do to make it happen?

Psy, Gangnam Style Photo via Shutterstock

11 Comments ▼

Amanda DiSilvestro


Amanda DiSilvestro Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer for Viral Content Buzz, a system designed to help you promote other content and get your content promoted on major social channels like Twitter and Facebook. You can also find her writing for the nationally recognized SEO firm, Higher Visibility.

11 Reactions

  1. I agree with visuals. Visuals are very important because they are the quickest way to grab someones attention, people respond much better to visual content than text.

  2. Very nice post, Amanda! The only “Trigger of Fascination” I would add would be Humor. In my experience (and it depends on the context/subject matter) humor is one of the most powerful factors in the virality of content. Pretty pictures go hand in hand.

  3. Loving the entertainment….. you sold me Amanda lol…and not just on your profile pic ;)

    I also love the idea of triggering different emotions. I am a visual learner and can fathom how people get so bored with just writing, writing and more writing!

  4. Yes to point #2! The prospect of your video going viral can be so tempting that you lose sight of the connection to your message and your goals – and then even a million shares won’t do much for you.

    I’m curious, what are some (potentially) viral videos you’ve enjoyed recently that you consider examples of great content and strategy?

  5. Gone are the days when a classic template leads you to stardom. Now is the age for uniqueness and creativity. The more unique and creative you are, the better. The same goes for business. You should also think about new strategies so that you can stand out.

  6. Making your content go viral is not a one day shot. It takes a long time and practice for making such a content that would go viral in your industry.

    The points discussed and tips shared by Amanda are truly effective if practiced well. I think the 7 triggers of fascinations for people would work handy and return the expected result for anyone.

  7. #2 is good. Going viral needs to benefit your company in a way. If you create a funny video that gets 9 million views but it leads to no extra traffic or sales – what was the point?

  8. I like the points you’ve made. I think some of your points can also be useful even if going viral isn’t one’s focus.

    I’m assuming a lot of people who’ve gone viral didn’t actually plan it. There’s therefore a part of me that thinks having the intention to go viral is less likely to have the desired results.

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