What good is great content if it goes unnoticed? Without implementing certain tactics into your content marketing, even your best pieces of content could go unread, unshared, and risk missing out on the prestige it deserves.
If that’s the case, what is it exactly that makes content go viral, and make readers feel the need to share?
Below we have assessed the most important aspects in creating content that’s worthy of sharing, and has the potential to go viral.
Content that evokes Emotion gets shared
When you read a particular good article, what makes it so good? It’s most likely the emotional responsive you experience upon reading it.
A piece of content worthy of sharing, and with the potential to go viral, usually incites one of the following emotions:
- Shock and awe
This involves pieces of content which stun or shock you. Perhaps a certain remarkable claim, statistic, or revelation the reader was otherwise unaware of. The share-ability comes in the form that they believe others need to be aware of this, too.
- Joy, Inspiring or uplifting
Many viral pieces of content revolve around humanity, and where the reader forms a connection with the topic or subject of the content. This can involve an intricate, moving, heart-warming story, or perhaps something that otherwise makes them happy or joyous.
Anger may be an odd choice, as you may not want to anger customers who come on your website. But for virality and sharing, anger is a great emotion to evoke in a reader. For instance, if someone disagrees or has a different opinion, they will want to see justice done, and will just have to comment about it. Creating this discussion on the website will usually mean they share it with others to discuss elsewhere, who will also chime in and challenge a controversial topic with their own opinion.
Above all, humour is probably the most common emotion coming from viral content or videos. Because who doesn’t want to share a hilarious video with their friends, especially if it’s in-line with current trends. Also, general content with a humourous vibe can often help, as it can break the mould, with a less sterile and more interesting edge.
Although sadness isn’t one of the most important feelings for a viral post, it can be great for sharing. There are many sob stories or tales of the less fortunate which become very popular, albeit many will have a more uplifting moral story or outcome.
- Anxiety or fear
Anxiety is another big emotion to cash in on. This can also be used in wider marketing techniques, in order to make the customer feel as though they are losing out on something, or that they’re missing out on crucial information if they don’t read your content. In a similar way, fear works to scare readers into worrying they’re making a mistake or doing something wrong; perhaps more a fear of loss than anything else.
So what else can cause someone to wish to share a piece of content?
Without making it sound negative, many people share content out of narcissism. Online profiles allow you to craft and shape your own identity, and many people will use this to appear smart, by sharing content that makes them appear this way. Appearing in-the-know and up-to-date with what’s going on in the world can fuel a user’s ego, and so they will share any relevant content.
The kind of content topics that go viral are largely very different. But on their blog, Buffer found that food, home, and lifestyle account for 85% of viral content. This shows that the content with the likelihood of going viral is usually human in approach, and largely relate to someone on a personal level.
People also like content or information that is practical, and useful in their lives. What makes it share-worthy, is when they realise this information could help out their friends, or fans. It could also help them cultivate a following based upon their expertise.
Content Format and Layout
So, you’ve decided on a topic, and what you’re going to write about. You know people will find it interesting, and you know they’ll want to read it. But how do you format the content in order to gain the most readers, and to entice them to share the content afterwards?
Checklists or “Listicles” are often very effective, as it instils a sense of curiosity of what could possibly be fulfilling that list. It adds an air of mystery, and keeps people intrigued. When they see “List of 20…” Specifically, list of 10s seem to work the best.
It also works because many people want quick answers. If they can scan a list to gain the information they needed, then it’s worthwhile. It also gives them the option to read in more depth if they find it interesting; so lists work for users with and without spare time, serving two audiences.
People want content that is readable. Whether it’s on-the-go, or at home. One great way of doing this is to convert content into an infographic, or some form of easily digestible guide.
In some cases, a video may be the best way to present your information; even if it’s not a video in the most traditional sense. You can still present your information as text, but show it in a video and commentate over the top.
Presentations or Documents hosted on Slideshare or similar websites is another way to present your content in another format, which can often be more engaging, and easier for readers to digest.
After all pieces of content, you should inform your audience of their next action, and how to put your content to good use. This means they will reap the results your content offers, and remember your brand.
Length of Content
On average, it’s been shown by Buzzsumo, that long articles over 3000 words get shared the most. Although this is quite an extensive task for every blog post, it is a good idea to aim for around 2000 on average.
That’s not to say there isn’t a time and a place for shorter posts; but for the optimum number of shares and potential for virality, the longer the better.
Long posts are immersive and people who commit to reading the whole thing are obviously into it, and likely to share with others if they find it valuable. They are also reportedly shared mostly through emails and direct links, which cannot be measured or observed directly.
Headlines and Titles
Many writers and marketers underestimate the power of the headline. For each piece of content, you should be spending a decent amount of extra time on your headline alone.
The words you use has a significant impact on whether someone will click or share an article. For instance, strong adjectives which evoke certain emotions can entice users to read. Otherwise, making users a promise, such as life-altering tips, can gain their curiosity. Otherwise, how-tos or mysterious headlines (whilst avoiding click-baiting) can help a post become popular.
When it comes to social networks, using a slightly altered phrase aside from the headline can be beneficial. Alongside adopting a line for social networks, different headlines work best for different networks.
For example, unsurprisingly Facebook and Pinterest respond best to headlines related to the home. Also, video content does best on Facebook compared to other social platforms. Short titles also work best on Twitter, limited to an already-restrictive 140 characters. The same goes with topics, formats, and more. Find your audience on suitable social networks, and experiment with what works on which network.
Timing of Content Promotion
When sharing the created content yourself, the time and days you choose to do so can influence engagement considerably.
In general, Tuesday has been shown to be the best day for sharing content on most platforms, including Twitter and Facebook. LinkedIn and Pinterest are exceptions to the rule, with content faring better on a Monday.
Also, rather logically, the best time to share posts for shares is at 9am and noon, when people get into the office, and lunchtime.
If you need help formulating a digital marketing strategy, or where to get started with content marketing, give the team at Xanthos a call at 08450 740 068, or get in touch.