Deliver content that is not only interesting and relevant, but that your followers can’t wait to share with their networks.
Content marketing is a serious beast. With billions of images, emails, and articles circulating the internet each day, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of content. Take a look at some of the numbers.
How can marketers cut through the clutter, consistently reach their target audience, and provide content that’s compelling and shareable?
Here are 5 tips to create viral content that is not only shareable, but will consistently drive traffic to your site, attract new unique impressions, and engage potential customers.
1. Break down barriers for your audience to share your content.
Make it easy for your audience to share your content and become an advocate for your brand and the messages in your articles.
There are tons of features to add to your blog posts and articles that allow readers to quickly and easily share your content. Tools like Click to Tweet are becoming a popular way to give serious visibility to short, impactful blurbs from your articles.
Take a look at theSkimm, a daily email newsletter that aggregates news and media for a millennial audience.
theSkimm has made it easy for readers to tweet, as well as post to Facebook and Instagram, funny quotes and interesting pieces of information from their newsletter to get attention and attract new subscribers. For example, when interviewing presidential candidate George Pataki, theSkimm made these millennial-friendly quotes easily shareable across three social media platforms.
2. Package your content better than your competitors.
You don’t have to unearth the latest marketing trend or change the face of the industry to create a compelling article and generate a ton of traffic.
The key is to package your content in a way that is exciting and interesting to your target market.
Focus on crafting a headline that readers simply can’t ignore. People love lists and articles with quick tips and tricks, as well as how-to and strategy guides. Create a sense of urgency in your article headline so that people feel like they’re missing out if they don’t read the piece of content.
Develop unique graphics that speak to the message of your article. Use these graphics to promote your content on your social media channels, as well as use sharing features listed above to allow readers to easily push these graphics out to their own networks.
Career Contessa, a site for female empowerment featuring content about work and life, creates simple but powerful header images for each of their blog posts. The images have a consistent theme across the platform, and clearly explain the purpose of the post and what viewers can gain from reading.
You don’t need graphic or design capabilities to create beautiful infographics or viral-worthy images. Use free tools like Canva to create unique, visually interesting images that your readers will love to share.
3. Think about topic selection like you think about your diet.
According to Jami Oetting, Content Strategist for Hubspot’s Agency Blog, give readers a mix of content, both in topic and tone, to keep them continuously coming back for more.
Jami’s advice? “Sometimes you want a well-balanced, healthy meal. And sometimes, you just want to eat cake. Readers want both — you need practical, applicable articles and you also need to serve people some fun, interesting pieces.”
Smart human interest stories have a proven high chance of going viral. Sites like Buzzfeed, one of the most popular websites for sharing media and news, use “lighter” mediums like quizzes to engage a content-hungry millennial audience. While much of the content is focused in pop culture and entertainment, Buzzfeed also provides an authoritative voice on topics like tech and politics, reaching a monthly audience of over 130 million unique visitors.
Hooking readers with some fun, flashier pieces brings new traffic to your website, and provides the opportunity for them to stay and take a look at your more lucrative pieces of content.
4. Capitalize on trends outside of your industry.
Another tip from Jami at Hubspot- look for content ideas that can be focused and made relevant for your specific niche.
By highlighting a topic that’s outside of your industry, you not only bring fresh, inspired content to your current reader base, you have the opportunity to attract a new crop of readers from an entirely different sphere.
Capitalize on current events in areas like sports, politics, or media to illustrate a point that resonates amongst a broad consumer base. Mashable does a great job of integrating current events into their content rotation; their recent series of articles on the Women’s World Cup collectively generated over 50,000 shares.
Another smart strategy here is to look for content ideas that transcend industries. For example, topics like leadership, networking, and personal development can be adapted to be relevant to your brand or target audience, but still be interesting to a wide variety of readers across disciplines.
5. Don’t just know your audience- understand when and why they share content, and play to those motivations.
You don’t need to barrage your social media followers with the same piece of content over and over again. Do some legwork and get a handle on your audience’s motivations for sharing content with their network to let them work for you.
The New York Times has published an excellent resource to understand the psychology of why, when, and how people are sharing online. At its core, the study found that people share content through social media channels to satisfy the basic human needs of belonging and self-actualization.
Conduct a mini ethnography study with your brand’s current followers. Look at their past sharing and engagement behaviors with your content, and see what types of messages have resonated and compelled them to tell their networks what your brand has to say.