What makes content go viral?

“The internet affords a level of relationship with consumers hitherto unfathomable.”

Lucas Donat

Viral content: The gold standard for successful digital marketing – at least, according to marketing clients. And, probably the bane of every digital marketer’s existence, who’s had to manage expectations of viral content being a norm rather than the exception.

The advent of social media has leveled the playing field, and fame and fortune are no longer an elusive enigma, reserved for an elite few. Every fame-hungry TikToker, influencer, YouTuber, and brand out there know they could be one click away from producing that magic piece of content that could garner enough views and shares to catapult them into the realms of instant stardom. And, if you’re in the business of digital marketing, so do your clients.

In the world of social media and digital marketing, everybody’s looking to trend. To do so requires cleverly crafted content with enough wit and smarts to make it go viral. Simple? Not so, according to marketing experts.

So, what does it take for content to go viral? Is there a magic formula or strategy? Does it happen by chance, or through the carefully thought-out efforts of a high-cost marketing strategy?

There is no magic formula for content virality. Viral content is so rare that most marketers agree that even the most carefully crafted, big-budget promotion cannot guarantee it – although it can go a long way to increasing your chances.

Viral content takes a dexterous mixture of deliberate planning, good strategy, clever targeting, and, wait for it…a whole lot of luck! Content virality is, after all, a game of being at the right place, at the right time.

However, if your business is not yet in a position to spend on a high-cost digital campaign, there are certain elements you can incorporate into your content to increase your chances of hitting that ever-elusive viral content jackpot! The most common elements include:

Lists and GIFs: These, according to research, are the most shared types of content on social media. So, if you can craft yourself a catchy Top 10… list, or create a punchy GIF, you’re well on your way to going viral.

Tapping into the ego: Besides lists and GIFs, social media research also suggests most of us have a little “inner-narcissist” that draws us to content we think makes us look good or clever. If your content appeals to people’s egos, they’re likely to share and make it go viral.

Emotional triggers: Content that triggers positive emotions, entertainment or amusement tends to get more shares than negative content. Humanizing your content is a great way to connect with an audience.

Shock factor: Something unexpected to shock and amaze.

Tips and hints: When people find your information useful, they’re more inclined to share with others. It taps into the ego factor, where they feel it makes them look good.

Offers: Everybody loves a freebie! If you’re giving away freebies, you can almost be assured to get a sharp increase in likes and shares.

Influencers: If you can get a good one to notice your content, go for it!

It’s important to remember that you cannot force your content or campaign to go viral, for content to truly spread beyond just your target audience and get shared by others it needs to happen organically. Keep your focus on creating good content that fits your brand and targets your audience, if it has the right mix of ingredients it might just go viral.

Is your business using social media’s full potential?

At Brieffin we use our expertise to unlock everything social media has to offer your business or personal brand. We use our experience in content creation, strategy and planning, and social media management to help build consistency and deliver marketing success. Let’s talk.

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Industrial social media specialists of the year 2020 - Spain