Since the onset of social media, the top priority of many online digital marketers has become making content go 'viral,' and while this may be an admirable goal, marketers are better off starting out with good content and then working to amplify that content's presence, rather than jump straight ahead to viral
Guest post by Payman Taei
Since the beginning of the social media boom and thanks largely to the digital world that we're now living in, marketers for businesses large and small have a new top priority: going viral. Who doesn't dream of taking a piece of content that you created for next to nothing, putting it online and slowly watching as it grows to 100 million views or more overnight?
Many marketers are even making this an organizational goal - "we don't create content. We create viral content."
The problem is that "going viral" isn't nearly that simple, nor is it something that you can just do. There's a lot about the process you can control - like the form your content takes and how you distribute it - but there's also a lot you can't. You can't force someone to share your content, let alone hundreds of thousands or even millions of someones.
The fact of the matter is that if you start from the goal of "going viral" and work your way backwards, you're going to be disappointed the vast majority of the time. What you CAN do is start with the right content, then learn to amplify it in the right way, then hope the tides of the Internet take you where you want to go.
Mastering the Format
Before you can start learning how to properly amplify your content, you need to make sure that you're working with the right content in the first place. If you take a recent charitable event that your company participated in and turn it into a 1000 word blog post, you may be able to properly convey exactly what you were attempting to in the first place.
But that isn't necessarily enough to get people to care.
If you take those same ideas, visualize all of the relevant statistics using a tool like Visme (which in transparency I’m the founder of) and turn it into an incredible presentation or Infographic, suddenly you're cooking with gas.
Never forget that data visualization not only adds credibility to your content, but it helps people better understand what you're trying to say, it gets them more emotionally invested and more.
All of this will be invaluable when it comes to attracting the attention of that first set of eyes. Once your content has been created and you've initially put it out into the world, THEN you can start to worry about amplifying.
But if you don't start with content that people are captivated by in the first place, all of your attempts at amplification and going viral won't actually matter.
The Shareability Factor
Once you've mastered the format that your content will take, the discussion then turns to "The Shareability Factor," or the reasons why a lot of people would be motivated to pass along your content in the first place.
In a recent analysis of 100 million posts by BuzzSumo, it was revealed that some of the most common traits regarding heavily shared content:
- 49% of people said that they shared information they liked that was both A) related to a product or service they were interested in, and B) in an attempt to get others to either change their opinion or to encourage action.
- Long-form content almost always gets emailed more than short-form content.
- Long-form content also has the added benefit of not having much in the way of competition in terms of search engine page results.
- Articles that are heavily researched and backed up by data or statistics almost always get more shares, particularly on Twitter.
- Articles that inspire a sense of awe, or that are naturally funny, almost always get shared more often on all of the top social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
- Out of the ten most shared articles of 2014, eight of them were engaging AND interactive - meaning that they were quizzes.
So what does all this tell us? First, much of it underlines the need to make sure that your content is in the right format in the first place. Long-form, visual content that is backed up by research and statistics (if you think that sounds a lot like a presentation or an Infographic, congratulations - you're right) is and will always be the perfect place to start in that regard.
Secondly, to properly amplify your content you need to get it into the hands of the people who are most passionate about it first and hope that they're willing to take care of the rest.
It isn't enough to just put a piece of content on your website and call it a day. Email it to your most loyal customers. Tweet about it on Twitter and create a post about your post on Facebook. Make it easy for people to find your content and even easier for them to share it.
Now Do It Again
Once you've created a compelling piece of content and you've taken every step you can to amplify it, the rest is essentially out of your hands. It is entirely possible to do everything right and still publish a piece of content that lands with a hollow "thud" - such is the nature of the Internet.
Sometimes there's a breaking news item that demands 100% of the attention of your audience. Sometimes you just created the right content for the right market at the wrong time. Things happen.
But when you do find the techniques that work for you and your organization, the important thing to remember is that this isn't a "one and done" affair. A single viral piece is great - but you need to keep that momentum going. So once you're able to do it, immediately head back to the beginning and start working on your next piece, too.
About the Author
Payman Taei is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder of HindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland based digital agency specializing in website design, user experience and web app development.