5 secrets to creating viral content

You’ve produced some great content, but getting it shared far and wide is more than just luck. Getting your content to go viral takes work. How and why certain stories go viral has been studied extensively, and content that takes off will have a few key characteristics. By applying these to your content, you’ll stand a much better chance of it getting shared far and wide.

1. Viral content has social currency

Social currency is a way for people to show that they’re part of the community. Viral content is shared when people want to show that they know about something. When you create your content, think about how people will be seen if they share your link. Will it help them look intelligent, more clued up, ahead of the curve or on trend? If so, you’ll be more likely to get shared over and over again.

For your content to go viral, you need to carefully assess your headline. When somebody shares it, how will it make them look to their friends? They’ll go through the same thought process before they share it, so ensure that they’ll be happy with the social currency it will give them.

2. Viral content is positive

Time and again, researchers have found that positive content performs better than negative content. People want to read and share happy stories. Uplifting stories give people a positive emotional response, and that’s something that they’ll want to share with their friends and family.

This isn’t to say that negative content won’t be shared, but positive pieces will be shared more. If you can take your content and give it a positive spin, you’ll be more likely to get the number of views you want.

3. Viral content evokes emotion

If your content doesn’t evoke an emotional response, it won’t get shared. Great viral content stirs emotion in the reader, and they feel compelled to share that with their friends.

There are a few categories of emotion that repeatedly do well when it comes to viral content. Awe-inspiring content is, time and again, the best performing viral content. Content that amazes a person is something that they’ll want to share.

Other emotions that get results are anger, joy, lust, surprise, and fear. Not all of these will give you positive content, of course. However, emotional negative content will actually do better than unemotional positive content.

4. Viral content triggers memories

Viral content will trigger a memory, whether that is of an emotion, sensation, or experience. If your content can remind a person of something they have done or a great moment in their life, they will want to share it with others. What’s more, they’ll be more likely to actually mention other people in any comment they add to the link. This is an immediate and direct share with another person. With a shared memory being triggered, you’ll get shares from both people, expanding the reach of your content.

5. Viral content is promoted

The final secret of viral content is that it gets promoted. When you produce new content, you need to do some work to get it out there. Encouraging people to share your content is a good way to start the ball rolling. Ask for comments, shared experiences, and other engagement with your content.

There is a lot of great content available online, so you need to get yours found. Instead of sitting back and waiting for the hits to come in, get out on social media and share your link yourself. Make sure your content is shared at key times, too. Things posted at 9 am and noon will do better, as people are starting work and going on their lunch break. Anything posted during rush hour is going to get lost in the shuffle by the time people get back online.

You also shouldn’t be afraid to share older content. If you have something amazing that you posted six months ago that is relevant to something going on today, remind people that you have that content. Many viral links aren’t brand new, but have had slow and steady growth since they were first created.

Creating viral content is about more than just a link bait headline (‘This Baby Saw a LOLCat for the First Time; What Happened Next Will Amaze You’) or even having great content. It’s about having the right angle for that content, evoking the right response from the audience, and doing a bit of work to get the content out there.

Content that stirs emotions is going to get shared more than something that doesn’t. Creating an emotional response isn’t just about making people cry, though. There are a few key emotions that you can tap into to get your content spreading far and wide.