Going Viral: Tips and Tricks of Social Media Traction

 In Inbound Marketing, Online Marketing Tips, Social Media Marketing

Going Viral: Tips and Tricks of Social Media Traction

Not all great content has the potential to go completely viral, nor can anyone guarantee that any piece of content will take the Internet by storm — so is there some scientific approach that we don’t know about? What makes something go viral?

Viral videos tend evoke positive emotions such as awe, amusement and laughter, which makes 57% of all viral videos humorous or exciting in nature. Although you can still get videos to go viral via negative emotions such as anger or sadness, your chances are a lot lower.

Viral videos should also have a cognitive impact—they will share content that they find practical, interesting or surprising, which will help expand the horizons of your viewers and make them come back hoping that you have more compelling content. Currently, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has gone viral due to its amusing nature. Regular people and influential figures in the business world (and outside of it as well) have helped raise over $100 million for the simple act of pouring water over one’s head.

Too Long; Did Read

Despite the ever-shortening attention span that people are perceived to have today, people still actually enjoy reading longer pieces of content. It is shown that 3,000-10,000 word articles get the most shares, while those between 0-1,000 words get the least. The recommended sweet spot is 2,000 words.

In addition to the length of the post, the content must be readable as well. The more readable it is, the more likely it will get shared. For example, content that gets the most shares include interactive infographics, list-type articles, how-to posts, and of course, video. 

Picture Perfect

Having pictures in your content means it will get shared more often. How much more often? 2.3 times on Facebook and 2.1 times more likely on Twitter. And if you have a specific thumbnail, it will be 3.1 times more likely to be shared. You can add thumbnails via meta tags, which should be placed in the <head> section of the article.

Can I Have Your Attention, Please

A great title will help drive traffic to your content. Using numbers and adding interesting adjectives in headlines are both excellent ways to drive traffic to a post. “Listicle” articles, such as “5 Five-Minute Workouts for Flat Abs” and “6 Ways to Reuse Cardboard Boxes,” tend to get a lot of shares. You can even offer a promise to better the readers’ lives in the title as well, such as “5 Delicious Juicing Recipes to Support Immunity Health.”

Even though positive content tends to drive traffic, now and then it’s okay to throw in a curve ball and put in a negative title, like “How One Company Fooled the Entire World.” It can even have the same results as a positive title. You also want to appeal to the readers’ emotions and their sense of self, as they are more likely to read something that they feel relates to them. For example, a catchy title reflecting this could be “Have You Ever Lost A Sock In Your Laundry? Here’s How To Find It.” Don’t be afraid to get creative!

Respect My Authority

If you want your content to go viral, it helps to have a trustworthy source. For example, many people include a byline at the top of an article and an author bio at the bottom so they know whether or not to trust the content creator or not for more intriguing and engaging content. Content with both a byline and a bio tend to get more shares on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. The latter two are more frequented by professionals, so this is especially important for those two places. In addition, female authors seem to be more shared than male ones.

Expert Advice

Including experts or key influential figures in your content is essential to its success. For example, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge attracted key influential figures such as Bill Gates, making it go viral very quickly. In turn, these figures also challenged other influential figures, helping the Ice Bucket Challenge raise over $100 million. Including quotes from famous people (alive or dead) that is relevant to your content can help your content go viral even faster.

Timing Is Everything

It also matters when the content is shared—Tuesday seems to be the big day for viral content on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, whereas Pinterest and LinkedIn peak on Mondays. In LinkedIn’s case, this seems reasonable as Monday is the start of the work week. 9 am and noon Eastern Standard Time seem to be the best times of day to share your content, as many people are at a computer during that time. The worst time to share your content is rush hour, where getting to a computer or a mobile device is not the top priority for most people.

Same Old, Same Old

Even if your content doesn’t go viral, that doesn’t mean you can’t re-share it. Social shares go down 96% in a 72 hour time period that it was shared. However, you can re-post content even 12 weeks after its original publication date and get people talking about it. It’s all about testing your content and seeing what sticks—as the old saying goes, practice makes perfect.

Going Viral Infographic

James Faulkner is SodaPop Media’s Content Manager and Creative Director.

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