On Thursday morning, I tuned into a webinar to find out the secret formula to making content go viral. That’s what all marketers want, right? What I learned did provide some insight, so I picked out a few takeaways I think will be the most valuable to you.
I heard Steve Rayson, director at social search engine provider BuzzSumo, run down "How to Go Viral: Lessons from the Most Shared Content of 2015." The WriterAccess webinar had a smart side — including one of the interactive elements it suggested, with audience polls. People like to feel smart and show those accomplishments to their friends, Rayson says.
- Marketers, Use Facebook. That’s the first tip. Rayson says Facebook is the No. 1 driver of viral content. “So your answer there at the beginning doesn’t surprise me at all,” he told his audience.
- Next, Be a Celebrity. You’re not Adele? Hello? Oh. Moving on …
- Know Your Audience Before Considering Any of These Tips. The audience weighs into what the topic should be, when it should be posted and where, and so on, he says. “Love and Dating” may not work well for your B-to-B audience. But then again, it may.
Business blogs do well on Mondays and Tuesdays, and not so much on Thursdays and Fridays — and generally horribly on weekends. However, anything about kitchens does well during the weekend. Then, if marketers are known for anything regular — such as whiteboard Fridays — that could get attention. And, in general, that No. 1 driver of viral content, Facebook, sees attention to posts in the late evening — even 10 p.m., Rayson says.
- Build an Audience Instead of Being a One-Hit Wonder. Viral posts are anomalies that can get exponentially more hits than the second most popular article, he points out. Audiences have to get to know marketers.
- Find Topic Influencers, Not Just Popular People. What are the chances Jay-Z cares about plumbing? I think that’s probably about as likely as this triangle sign being a secret message to the illuminati.
So perhaps Jay's Plumbing of Chicago may not want to work too hard to get the celebrity to write up the business on Facebook. While Rayson didn’t talk about either Jay, he did suggest webinar attendees find the most-shared content that’s relevant to their businesses and see who shared it, because those are their influencers. Then again, Jay-Z may just care more about pipes than I thought …
- Marketers Can Actually Open Their Wallets. When a post is doing well, help it along with paid social amplification. Ads. For instance, Target Marketing’s Thorin McGee hit a nerve and a few whiskers with “The War on Beards” on Wednesday. Perhaps its organic reach could’ve been complemented with a paid Facebook campaign? Because on social, organic reach alone may not cut it, Rayson says. “You’ve got to have both,” Rayson says. Speaking of which, pay for images. Rayson reserves a special place in hell for stock images, but hundreds of dollars for artists who provide images for his blog posts.
- Blank Page? Write About Zombies. Zombies do get views. Also, the undead are comment machines, Rayson says.
- Combine Elements Among the Top Viral Concepts. These include:
- Be Surprising. These posts can be slightly “clickbaity,” Rayson says.
- Leverage an Early Trend. Not the tail-end. Jump on what you’ve seen in your topic during the past two hours, not the past month. At a certain point, jumping in late on a topic can hurt your brand.
- Inspire People. Curation can work for this, Rayson says. One such post was “51 of the Most Beautiful Sentences in Literature” from BuzzFeed. Marketers can also curate photos and create lists. “People like list posts,” he says. List posts that begin with numbers are shared more often, with the No. 1 figure being 10 and the surprising second place going to 23.
- Exploit Cute Animals and Babies. "Baby, Puppy Ads Aid More Than Impulse Buys" from Target Marketing gets into this.
- Be Amusing. Think of this from The New Yorker — “Scientists: Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans.” Marketers should know that consumers like to share what will amuse their friends.
- Be Controversial. Be careful, because this idea is divisive by its nature. Por ejemplo, Donald Trump’s Facebook posts.
- Quiz People. The most popular ones are about character traits, including results that consumers can share with their friends. Interactive ones work, too, like the ones at the beginning of Rayson’s webinar. He says quizzes raise brand awareness; whereas, case studies are more about conversion. "Quiz: What’s Your Marketing Personality?" did well for Target Marketing.
- Tell Consumers the Secrets of Success. The keywords “success” and “successful” go over well, Rayson says. “People like to be successful,” particularly on LinkedIn, he says.
- Use New Research.
- Tell a Heartwarming Story.
- Warn Consumers. “Stop Drinking Bottled Water” did well for Gizmodo.
- Niche Ideas: Health, Diet and Fitness; Secrets of Love and Dating; and the Secret of a Long Life.
How can content marketers use these tips?
Please respond in the comments section below.
Related story: The War on Beards