5 Ways to Make Your Content Go Viral

Many of us dream of creating something that will “go viral.” In 2012, going viral is the equivalent to getting your “15 minutes of fame“. Some marketers believe that, when done repeatedly, a hot viral video can be exactly what they need to get their products and services out there into the world for everyone to see.

The term refers to a phenomenon in which an item is created or discovered or, sometimes re-discovered. One person will show the object to some or all of their contacts, who will then in turn show it to their contacts, and so on.  It’s called viral because of the similarity in which actual viruses are spread. The key to “Going Viral” is the speed with which this happens.

Here are a few ways you can help your own content get viral exposure. If you have any other ideas, please post them in the comment section!

1. Keep it Relevant
Your content stands no chance of becoming viral if no one cares about it. Find out what people are already talking about, what they are interested in, or successfully determine what they WILL be talking about.

2. Take Your Company Out of It…Mostly
Notice how television shows have their product placement and it’s mostly annoying? That’s because few people like to be sold to. At least, not obviously sold to. We know it goes on, but that doesn’t make us happy about it. And we aren’t going to send your ad to all of our friends.  But, we also want some reference to your company, someone to give credit to for this amazing bit of information, this dose of much-needed humor, this video that makes us cry every time. Make sure there’s a connection to your organization, but don’t overdo it on the branding front.

3. Make the Message Emotional


Photo by Marktristan

People want to feel something. If your content can make them laugh, or cry, or gag or want to punch something, it is more likely to generate viral buzz than a dozen paragraphs of dull,  colorless information.

4. People Love Lists
People love to know the Top Ten of just about anything. David Letterman knows this. In the speedy world of the web, people want their information summarized and organized, so they can move onto the next thing. Sure, lists may be a cliched format to some, but you can beat them when you’ve got a lot to say and not a lot of time to say it.
Check out Mashable for some good examples of list posts.

5. Make it Easily Sharable
If you want your content to go viral, make it easy for people to share it. If it’s a video, allow people to embed the file. If it’s a blog post or web page make sure you have Facebook and Twitter buttons that are accessible. Don’t lock your content so no one can use it or link to it or download it. If you want it to hit a million viewers, be sure that they can get to it with ease.

Here are a few links that might help you as you look to create viral content.

Advertising Universe [Infographic]
This post has a great collection of infographics that related to the creation of viral content.

UPenn; Wharton School of Business [pdf]
Jonah Berger is an assistant professor at the Wharton School of Business. He has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and many other publications. He co-wrote a paper called “What Makes Online Content Go Viral.” It’s a long paper, but a good read.

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