Getting something to “go viral” is the ultimate in success for many bloggers and even online journalists. Once something is viral, it’s received countless numbers of hits, re-Tweets and shares. It can make someone internet-famous, such as the Star Wars Kid, and can live on forever in a digital era. However, making viral content isn’t as easy as it sounds. There are a few key traits that most viral content has in common, and it’s time to break down exactly what that is.
Going viral requires a lot of things, including mass appeal. It can be shocking, entertaining, unbelievable or (preferably), all of the above. Contrary to popular belief, viral content can also be informative and doesn’t need to rely on gimmicks to “make it.” This is great news for a writer who wants to build a reputation that isn’t founded on cats and cheezburgers. Here’s the 5-step process to going viral.
1. Mass Appeal
A person might put together the most informative, stunning infographic in history about medieval British literature–but who’s going to like that? If content appeals to a niche market, there’s no way it’s going to go viral. Viral means it spreads, and that means everyone from 15-year-old high school kids to retirees are going to find is interesting. This is the most difficult part for many people, because how many passions are founded in the masses?
2. Pictures and Videos
Increasingly, people are less likely to read articles, which is why e-marketing and video emails are gaining in popularity. It’s no longer enough to be a great writer or researcher; the creator also has to be able to put together a great infographic or video. This doesn’t mean it has to be professional quality, but it shouldn’t look like a fifth-grade project, either. People like images, so deliver that.
3. Breaking It Down
Some viral content reveals brand new, never before seen information–or at least it looks that way. There’s nothing new under the sun, and the chances of an infographic revealing information that countless researchers haven’t is very slim. However, the trick is in revealing information in laymen’s terms for the first time. Breaking down a recent groundbreaking study on cancer into a simple graph has great potential.
4. Responsive Design
Just like web design, viral content also has to have responsive design at the helm, which means the content can be viewed on any platform. Whether a person has a lumbering old PC or the latest Samsung Galaxy S 4, it doesn’t matter. They need to be able to view the graphic in the environment they prefer, because otherwise they’ll just click away. Always keep responsive design in mind.
5. Share and Share Alike
Viral content doesn’t “just happen,” it requires endless promotion and sharing from the creator’s end. This means making it shareable on all sites with social media buttons, reaching out to media outlets and/or bloggers to link to it and constantly pushing it forward. It’s kind of like being a PR agent for an up and coming celebrity, and there’s no such thing as overexposure. In fact, overexposure is the definition of going viral so take advantage of e-marketing techniques.
Clearly, the road to being viral is riddled with obstacles, road blocks and challenges that people never dream of when they’re piecing together that great two-minute video. Lucky chances do happen, but nobody can plan for those so it’s best to take a proven approach. Once content goes viral, the foundation has been set for an internet sensation to either make it or fade into the background. Have a plan in action so that when viral content gets stale, another fresh move is made.