Create viral content

Having a piece of content go viral is like hitting the jackpot as it can bring a lot of new traffic back to your site. While focusing on quality content should be your number-one priority, you might also want to increase its chances of going big. This means learning how to create viral content on your blog.

Of course, there’s no way to guarantee that any given blog post will go viral. However, there are plenty of things you can do to improve the likelihood of your content attracting the right sort of attention. What’s more, many of the best techniques are simple to implement.

In this article, we’ll talk about how to create viral content based on what works in the real world. Let’s jump right in!

1. Make connections to current events and other popular topics

If you’re looking to learn how to create viral content, one of the best things you can do is research past examples of stories that made a splash. You’ll often start to notice a few common threads and trends.

For instance, much of the content that goes viral has some kind of direct connection to the ‘big events’ of the day. This includes news stories, scientific discoveries, and the like. For instance, in 2016 the most viral post on Facebook was a story about a positive development in Alzheimer’s research:

A viral post about research on Alzheimer's.

Now, unless you’re running a news site, you probably don’t post much content along these lines. However, you don’t need to summarize the latest news to attract attention. Simply making a connection to popular events and topics can often be enough.

As an example, this video about revealing the results of DNA tests to ordinary people went viral, in large part because of the connections made to widespread attention towards topics like nationalism and immigration in 2016:

To tap into this source of viral content, you can:

  • Report on newsworthy items relevant to your industry or niche.
  • Give your opinions on or share expertise related to a current event.
  • Use a recent event or popular topic as a springboard for discussing a topic of interest to your readers.
  • Explore how your business’ products or services connect to (or help with) a current concern or fear.

Of course, forcing a connection that isn’t really there is likely to turn readers away. Instead, keeping abreast of current news and trending topics on a regular basis should provide you with plenty of opportunities to make relevant links to your blog’s primary focus.

2. Tap into the right emotions

It should be no surprise that different types of content can produce various emotions in readers. In fact, you probably use this strategy on your blog already. When you create a new post, considering whether you want it to make readers laugh, cry, or think can provide you with vital focus and direction.

When it comes to learning how to create viral content, emotions are especially important. Simply evoking any sort of emotion in your readers is a good start, since this increases the chances of your content being shared.

However, what really matters is to target the right kinds of feelings. A study of 10,000 of the most shared articles across the web found that certain emotions, such as sadness, surprise, anger, and empathy, were the focus of only a small percentage of viral content. Instead, the most prevalent feelings and responses evoked by highly-shared content were:

  1. Awe – 25%
  2. Laughter – 17%
  3. Amusement – 15%
  4. Joy – 14%

All four are positive emotions, which offers a clear message about the types of content people like to share. There’s a reason cat videos are so popular, after all. If you can create posts that entertain and/or evoke strong feelings of awe or happiness, you’ll be setting yourself up for success.

Before we move on, let’s check out an example of this concept in action:

This video garnered over 7 million views on YouTube very quickly, and for good reason. Both entertaining and awe-inspiring (when you consider how it was made), the content taps into several of the emotions that are most likely to result in viral success.

3. Create content that’s relevant to the widest possible audience

There’s a place for niche content. In fact, if you want to cultivate a devoted readership for your blog, writing posts meant for a specific target audience is often the way to go.

If you’re interested in how to create viral content, on the other hand, you’ll also need to consider a much broader audience. A post isn’t likely to go viral if it’s only relevant to a small handful of individuals. Even for content not tapping into current events, the items going viral often do so because everyone can make a personal connection to them.

This is the reason health-related content tends to go big time and time again. Just about everyone wants to be healthy (and can make improvements in the area), which is why posts like this gain traction so easily:

A viral post about healthy snack choices.

For another example, check out this highly popular post:

A viral post about research on intelligent people.

Most people like to think they’re intelligent, and can relate to at least one of the ‘bad habits’ mentioned in this headline. So it’s not a stretch to understand why millions of people clicked through to check out the full story.

The lesson you can take away from this is clear. If you’re writing for your normal blog readership, focus on the issues directly relevant to them. When you have something you’d like to get large-scale attention, on the other hand, you’ll want to find a way to connect it to an experience we’ve all had, a situation nearly everyone has found themselves in, or something of similar broad appeal.

4. Optimize your content

So far, we’ve been talking about what to focus your viral content on. Finding the perfect topics and targeting the right emotions has a huge impact, of course. However, there are also some practical elements involved in learning how to create viral content.

By definition, viral content encompasses posts, images, and other items that are shared and viewed widely. This means you need to make your own content both easy to find and simple to share:

An example of social sharing buttons on a blog post.

Before a post can go viral, it first needs to attract some initial viewers (who can then share it with their friends and networks). To help this happen, you’ll want to follow the principles of sound Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

SEO is something we’ve discussed in detail many times, so we won’t repeat ourselves too much here. Suffice to say, you’ll want to ensure your posts are well optimized by targeting popular but low-competition keywords, and using a tool such as an SEO plugin to add information that helps search engines present them to the right audience.

Once you’ve managed to bring in an initial audience, you’ll need to make it easy for them to share your best posts. The vast majority of viral content goes big on social media (gone are the days when people might send links of videos or articles to their friends via email).

The solution here is simple. On each of your blog posts, preferably near the top and/or bottom of the content, you can include some social media sharing buttons. These enable readers to share the post with a simple click.

If you’re using WordPress, there are plenty of plugins that make the job easy. For example, the Orbit Fox plugin lets you add social media share buttons with just a few clicks:

Conclusion

Figuring out how to create viral content is something of an art. You can never predict with total accuracy what content will grab the attention of the wider online community. If you’re determined to bring in blog traffic via a viral post, however, there are some strategies that can help you out.

To maximize the odds of your blog content being widely shared, you’ll want to:

  1. Make connections to current events and other popular topics.
  2. Tap into the right emotions, such as awe, amusement, and joy.
  3. Create content that’s relevant to the widest possible audience.
  4. Optimize your content, by following smart SEO practices and including social share buttons.

Do you have any questions about how to go viral with these tips? Ask away in the comments!

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