Being the “loudest voice in the room” is not as easy as it used to be. The traditional megaphones of high-profile ad spots and full-page print ads are a thing of the past, and virality is the wave of the future. So how do you determine whether your content is share-worthy? Here are five questions that can help shape your efforts and push your content into the far corners of cyberspace.

Are We Trying Too Hard?

This is probably the toughest question to ask, but it’s an important one. With the overnight success stories born from that one quirky video that hit it big, it’s easy to get a little took caught up in “going viral”. The difference between painful attempts to be original and tapping the power of virality lies in the understanding that being share-worthy and being silly for silliness’ sake are two different things entirely.

Virality, at its core, is about finding your niche and generating content and information that resonates with people. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your video has to be a carnival of the absurd, only that it should be a mix of entertaining, topical, unique, and optimized. By focusing on what makes virality tick, your content is less likely to be laughed at, and more likely to be laughed with.

Is Our Content Unique?

Perhaps the most important aspect of the content cocktail we just mentioned, is uniqueness. Content sharing is fueled by the fact that users want to share items that espouse the views and beliefs they hold dear. If your work is just a rote recitation of someone else’s sentimental staple, then your hard work is less likely to spread.

Above all else, focus on creating something special. Deliver value that no one else does. Provide an experience that no one else does. Create a conversation that no one else does. Your video should be unexpected, individual, and creative, catching viewers’ attention and inspiring engagement in the process. Another question you could ask yourselves is, “have I seen this before?” And if the answer truly is no, then you may be on to something.

Does Our Content Resonate With Our Audience?

If your goal is sharing, then start with the people who make your brand tick. Existing customers and fervent followers are more likely to view your content and appreciate your message in the first place. Target your evangelists first to get the ball rolling and the broader audience will follow in their wake.

With this strategy, it’s vital not to pigeonhole your content. Drilling down your customer basis is a boon in its own rite, but virality is about finding the characteristics that connect us all. Your message and content should be of widespread relevance or widespread importance. Fostering sharing means knowing your audience, both the ones who are paying attention, and the ones who are about to.

Did We Employ Proper SEO?

Despite being one of the nerdiest questions of all time, optimizing your content remains a very important piece of enhancing your content’s virality. Content is fueled by sharing; posts on Facebook walls help spread your work to new audiences. But organic traffic is what keeps the ball in motion.

To this end, SEO is of vital importance. Make sure your meta-data is up to date and your keywords are down pat. Doing so will ensure that those who hear about your content through word-of-mouth can Google it later and find it successfully. Even those who haven’t heard of it may stumble upon it when searching for related information, and all of that will help build your viewership.

Are We Posting Our Content on the Right Social Networks?

At the risk of beating a dead horse, getting your content on social networks is very, very important. Search traffic is down, social traffic is up. This means that the engines fueling content discovery are the very customers you interact with on a day-to-day basis. Tapping their enthusiasm and inherent sharing potential can result in brand reach that money couldn’t hope to buy.

Just make sure that your content is being posted on the right social networks. Marketers these days understand that you have to post everything everywhere in order to keep a consistent presence in viewers’ minds. However, your specific audience is likely to exist on one social network or another in particular. If most of your success comes through Twitter, use Twitter. It’s all part of optimizing your content so that sharing can occur, helping your work, and your business “go viral”.

While virality isn’t an exact science, there are certain questions you can ask yourself to determine whether your content is likely to generate buzz. Let your now-how and creativity drive content and avoid “trying too hard” to garner sharing. Be unique and focus on your base in order to build a foundation for success. Optimize your content, both through metadata, and by posting in the right locations. With all of these factors accounted for, virality is only a matter of time, attention, and patience.