In a perfect world, audiences who see my content would be as excited to share it as they are to share memes and remixes of the yodeling boy in Walmart, but unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in.
We need to readjust our understanding of the term “viral” as it relates to content marketing, and extend the meaning beyond empty numbers and vanity metrics to create real value.
We need to focus on content that’s extremely interesting and relevant to an audience who will potentially buy your products, talk about your product or service, and derive significant value from using your products. Your content strategies need to be data-driven. Today when content creation is in overdrive, simply creating great content is not enough.
Viral content doesn’t go viral overnight. It builds and eventually hits a tipping point when it really explodes. Most viral content gets its start in a niche social network or group where sharing and discussion are the point – like a subreddit, Facebook group, Snapchat or LinkedIn. A YouTube video that gets millions of views doesn’t get those views because the video was posted to YouTube. It gets them because people shared the video in smaller social networks until critical mass was achieved and it got picked up by widely visited media sites like Buzzfeed or Mashable, where it starts getting shared all over again.
If you want your content to go viral, there’s absolutely no alternative to making that happen than knowing your audience. Make your content reader-friendly and easily shareable. I’ve personally been in situations where I’ve liked a particular blog post and wanted to share it across my social channels but couldn’t because there wasn’t a share button anywhere in plain sight.
An interesting analysis by LinkedIn found that not only did its top publishers’ articles get 64 times more comments and 24 times more shares than the average LinkedIn article, but that the authors themselves made 10 times more replies to comments on their articles than non-viral authors. In short, these authors intentionally kept the conversation going. The lesson here is to include comment response in your content promotion plan.
The most important quality for any content is remaining authentic and true to your brand’s voice and story. If you aren’t doing that, going viral isn’t going to help.