This is a guest post from Jerry Low.
If you’re on the web, your site and blog are likely unique – but one thing all blogs have in common is the drive for new subscribers and increased traffic. In the past few years, we’ve learned about the power of going viral – every blogger’s dream. But going viral is not always something that you can plan… or is it?
Here are 10 ways to increase your chances of going viral and hitting blogger gold:
Square one: Know that it can be done
Going viral isn’t like catching the fabled leprechaun – it does exist. At square one, you’ll need two things to make it happen: (1) Great, unique content, and (2) Crazy awesome outreach and promotional skills.
Here’s the thing – 99 percent of us don’t have that fat wad of cash sitting around that huge marketing campaigns require. Additionally, with respect to #2, 99 percent of us don’t have access to insider information – which is why it’s very hard for the “little guy” to go viral.
Note: very hard does not mean impossible; it can be done if you are smart and hard working.
Take, for example, Richard’s post on Link building tools – the post, published early on in Clambr’s days, received 2,000 FB likes, 100+ Google+ +1s, and 300+ tweets… no chump change. Early on – with little expendable budget – done thanks to great content and great social media and outreach skills.
Tip 1 – Getting the basics done right
If your post isn’t easily sharable, the odds of it going viral are slim at best. The most basic element of going viral is ensuring that your content has easy pass through via clearly visible social sharing icons. Use a Click-to-Share plugin (as Garrett Moon suggested earlier) if it helps.
Beyond share-ability, you need to have your other basics aligned.
For starters, make sure that you blog loads fast enough – slow loads lose visitors. Additionally, within your actual post, make sure that you have a clear call to action – if you’re wanting to go viral, make sure that you ask your followers and readers to share your content – clearly and visibly.
And finally, make sure that you have the SEO fundamentals down – your site and post need to be easy to find through search engines.
Tip 2 – Be trend leading
You can’t go viral if you’re saying the same thing as everyone else – you have a better chance of getting your content read when a topic is trending (and you’re on the forefront of it or offering a unique perspective).
It’s common sense why trending content gets higher click-through rates on social media; that’s the content people are interested in. But beyond the “Trending on Twitter” feed, you can also use Google trends to find search trends – from there, it’s about creating relevant, quality content on that topic.
Tip 3 – Write list posts
List posts are notorious for increasing SEO ranking – but they’re also notorious for attracting readers (why else do you think sites like BuzzFeed and Tumblr have exploded). This list format is appealing because of the unique topics, original insight, and easy readability. In fact, after analyzing 100 million articles, Noah Kagan from OkDork concluded that list posts receive more average shares than other types of blogposts. ‘Nuff said.
Tip 4 – LOL, Win, OMG, Cute, Trasy, Rail, and WTF
No, I didn’t just walk off a high school campus. BuzzFeed has identified several specific content categories that most of its successful content fits into – the seven categories include:
- LOL – humorous content
- Win – useful content
- OMG – shocking content
- Cute – cute content (think fuzzy baby animals)
- Trashy – ridiculous fails… typically of others
- Fail – something that everyone’s frustrated with
- WTF – strange, bizarre content
Beyond that advice, though, are the studies that suggest that positive content is more likely to go viral than negative content. For example, this study from U Penn that considers how emotions affect virality.
Tip 5 – Write long post
Bloggers often stick to the magic 500 words for posts – but did you know that, statistically speaking, longer posts with higher word counts are more contagious? Of course, correlation isn’t causation. In my opinion, longer posts tend to get more social media shares simply because the more verbose posts have an opportunity to offer more value to the readers.
The takeaway? Don’t cut yourself off for fear of exceeding 500.
Tip 6 – Not all social media shares are created equal
This one seems like common sense, but all too often, we count the number of shares, rather than the quality of them (talk to anyone measuring social media clip counts and you’ll get an earful on the topic). From the same study in tip three, Noah Kagan found that the average shares are generally higher if you manage to get more influencers to share your content.
In fact, having just one influential person share your content can result in 31.8% more social shares. Expound upon that by having five influencers share your content – this can nearly quadruple the total number of shares. Quality, not quantity.
Make a point to connect with – and build relationships with – influencers in your industry.
Tip 7 – Use visual content
People’s attention spans for web content are shockingly limited – and continuing to shrink. Again, we direct your attention to the success of sites like Pinterest or Tumblr that rely on minimal content with lots of images.
A bold, relevant photo speaks volumes to your viewer – so consider using a photo or GIF instead of a big old block of text. Need more reasons to rely on imagery? Here are 19.
Tip 8 – Don’t just focus on the big three
Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are undeniable social media giants – but there are plenty of other worthwhile social media sites out there. Take SlideShare, for one – this site gets about 120 million views each month. Or Pinterest which, as of July 2013, had more than 70 million users. That’s huge!
Tip 9 – Create videos
Video has been a huge asset in the marketing world since the TV era first bloomed. And, it has continued to grow. More than 100 million people watch videos online these days and, thanks to modern technology, it’s crazy easy and cheap to create unique videos yourself.
From instructional how-to’s to product overviews, vlogs, etc., the opportunities are endless – and if you aren’t taking advantage, you’re simply missing out. Need some incentive? Check out these 100 video stats and facts.
Tip 10 – Understand and segment your followers
You must understand who are your targeted audience and how they are using each social media channel. Yes, as a blogger you are likely working from the comfort of your home or office or local Starbucks. You do not have to sit down face to face with your audience.
But that does not mean you don’t need to know them.
Quick tips –
- Think about your ideal reader – Who are they? Where do they live? What makes them smile? What makes them feel like they can’t resist clicking on that Facebook share button?
- Study your competitors – Spy on their blogs, follow their hashtags and see what events or online hangouts they are attending.
- Research your targeted audience via different media – Literature, interviews, movies, school programs, or even TV and radio shows. Is there anything you may turn into a great post or article?
- Segment your followers and if possible, treat them differently – For example, readers on ProBlogger.net might be interested with blogging topic but not into WordPress tutorials (they could be using Typepad, Blogger, Tumblr, or even Square Space). To get maximum engagement rate, think of a way to feed personalized content to your followers.
While you can’t force your content to go viral (by definition, viral means other people are sharing your content with growing momentum), you can give it a boost so that it’s more likely to get picked up. Do these 10 things and you’ll be well positioned to take the internet by storm.
Have something I missed? Share it below in the comments.
Hey Jerry Low,
I must say this is an awesome post by you and I am thanking you very much for sharing it.
You are right when you say that we should write list posts. I was thinking back to my blog when reading this and I came to realize that most of my popular posts on my blog are list posts. I think I should write more of this.
Writing long blog posts as well helps to keep readers on blogs much longer than shorter posts.
Thanks for the other wonderful tips as well. Loved the article!
Kharim, I agree with your thoughts on writing list posts to go viral. On my blog, when I check Google Analytics, most of my posts are list posts.
Not only that, when you write lists posts, they are easy to digest and most online readers love to read and share list posts.
Jerry, thanks so much for writing such a comprehensive guide on going viral online. Bookmarked! Keep writing your guest posts here.
Kharim & Anil – Thanks for all the good words!
Let’s turn this post around on itself . . .
1. Load Time – 1.88 seconds according to tools.pingdom.com – Done!
2. Be Trend Leading – Seems more evergreen than trending.
3. Write List Posts – Done!
4. This is a “Win” post – Done!
5. Write Long Posts – 1380 Words – Done!
6. Not All Social Shares Are Created Equal – ?
7. Use Visual Content – Done!
8. Don’t Just Focus On The Big 3 – ?
9. Create Videos
10. Understand And Segment Your Followers – ?
Interesting article, Jerry.
I just would like to add some of my thoughts to this post. I think that one of the easiest way to go viral is to give consumers a light shock. Light shock – I mean when you provoke some emotions, but those emotions are pleasant and intriguing. When a person is driven by emotion, he often wants to share it with others. However, it is more psychological matter and it might take time to master this technique. But usually, most of the viral contents are driven on emotions.
Indeed – which is why I always say WTF FTW – make your viewers go WTF for the win! :)
This is a spicy piece of information man.
very well done
This is REALLY useful info here, sure to bookmark it as each tip shares info that needs to be absorbed in a quiet place. Going viral is every webmasters dream, it requires patience and dedication, whether you’re the apprentice blogger or a leader in the industry. I’m sure to keep coming back here to research some more!!!
Excellent read. I recently had one of my posts get 200 shares with new blog (although I expected much more). I think I could have done better if I had used an inforgraphics (to use Pinterest) or even a video. Thanks for the tips.
Great post Jerry. I just want to add the following stats, which back up a lot of what your saying, and might be helpful to some people.
Conducted by conductor, they found these in regards to overall headline preferences.
1. 36% for numbered headlines, e.g 30 ways to make drinknig tea more delightful
2. 21% for addressing the readers specifically e.g. Ways YOU NEED to make drinking tea more delightful
3. 17% for How Tos e.g. How to make drinking tea more delightful
4. 15% for the normal headline e.g. Ways to make drinking tea more delightful
5. 11% for questions e.g. How to make drinking tea more delightful
Hey Daniel, these are some very interesting stats. Wonder if I could take a closer look on the survey? Perhaps you can drop me the link here or to my email – [email protected]
I have been writing stuffs for years and was satisfied with any amount of referral and organic traffic. I have never thought really of making it viral. Why? Because I just don’t know how and where to start. So, let me give you a big THANKs for giving me an idea.
Great work Jerry!
Worthy Content, I’ll try to follow these tips for my newly created blog.
I think it can be all down to luck I have had the strangest blog posts go viral while posts I would have expected to go viral do nothing.
I really like the concept of list posts. That’s why since recently, I have been trying to add list posts into my blog for easy readability and more traffic. I also agree that most bloggers stick to the 500 words which doesn’t really make sense. In saying that, I have also seen bloggers keep on blabbing about the same thing just to increase the word count. Longer posts should also have value.
Thanks for sharing these great tips, Jerry.
On top of all that, if someone at the right time finds your content interesting and shares it among his/her fans in social media, chances are your content will go viral no matter what you’ve done there.
Fully agreed – which is why on tip #6 – reaching out and getting engaged with the right influencers is part of the game plan.
I’ve had posts go viral, and you’re right – longer form, and lots of photos. A word photo, to pin to pinterest that shows the reader exactly what they’ll get from coming to your article. We recently had a post go viral on pinterest – 3,500 visits (sticky! long time on page!) in about a half day. It’s lovely to see. And be patient – that post had been on our site for more than a year, and consistently brings in traffic, but love the zoom.
3,500 in 12 hours is quite a lot, congratulations. I hope you didn’t crash your hoster ;)
Thanks for your awesome helpful post.
Yes! I am agree with you that Long Post are always effective but it need to be quality content and must have relevancy. I will follow your showing tactics.
Especially tip 7, its one of the easiest to do. Everyone loves memes!
Thank you and way to break down the content here in an easy to follow fashion. That’s what I want to focus on with the readers today: If your content is not easy to “skim and scan” and not easy on the eyes, people are going to bounce of they blogs at record speed. We must be conscious of layout and structure. Certainly lists posts help do that, but I’ve also written about this extensively over on my blog as well.
Here are a few tips for making your posts highly readable:
1. Use subheadings so the reader can follow changes in topics, easily.
2. Put no more than 4 sentences in a paragraph. (Believe me, as a writer, this one KILLED me, but as soon as I got on board, I got a lot more reads.)
3. Make boldface font your friend–so that the most important points stand out.
Thanks for the pro tip. I always write in short paragraphs but now I have the magic number – FOUR.
Talking of going viral, any tip to stay viral? Going viral these days doesn’t entail you’ll retain that position in a few months coming. The competition is crazily tough now.
You are definitely right about list post! For my blog, all of my list post get more shares on average compared to the rest of them. I take it as people want to be directed on what to do to reach their goals.
Also I started created my own videos at the end of last year and I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten way more shares than I usually get. It take it as being even more transparent and letting my audience see the person behind the blog.
I started writing longer posts last year.. They were at least 1,000 words which is minimum. My visitors loved it and it looked like the search engines adored it. But I would say to get even better results to write at least 1500 words. I’ve seen some people who go crazy and write 7,000 to 8,000 words on their post. It may sounds crazy but their results show for it!
Thanks for sharing Jerry! I hope you’re having a great weekend!
All of this makes common sense. And, it also explains why bloggers who write 500 + words in blog posts get better SEO vs. blogs that have “thin content.” Having “lots and lots of content” is the “transformation blogging solution.” :-)
It’s a very good post about going viral. I want to add one point:
You can use relevant groups/communities of social media sites (Google+, Facebook etc). It is very useful as you will find members who are interested in your topic. From personal experience I found that, It is relatively easy to go viral using groups/communities.
Thank you. :)
Read your article and yes I agree with all that you’ve written but it involves a research around the topic that you want to go Viral and this research is the hardwork you need to do, like what are the trending topics and then write an original post around that trending topic which will persuade people to like and share your content
I will follow this tips.
Long post is always helpful if there is quality content.
thanks for great tips,
Definitely agree, long postis not only good for going viral but also for SEO :)
This appears to be sound advice. I’ll be sure to use these tips for my new blog. There’s nothing more that irritates me when researching a topic than a poorly written post that offers no entertainment or intellectual value. Also, using interview-based podcasting is something I’m interested in doing as well. Just need to wait to receive my first microphone. I appreciate the information. Thank you.
You made some great points on going viral!I am going to put some of these tricks to action myself.My site is like no other! Well at least that’s what my visitors say lol!The site gives tons of free blogging tools and has thousands of comments And subscribers! These tips can only help more with spreading the word! Cheers!
Yes pinterest is one of the good social network where your simple images talk more than your long posts..
If you keep on trying then viral success and traffic will come sooner or later. however, sustaining is another ball game. My blog once got 80,000 plus hits in just 3 hours and it was enough to crash my shared hosting :D
Thanks for your post.
In my opinion, choose the right time for your post is an important step too. For example, the best time to pin on Pinterest is 9:00 PM EST according to 10Alike, Fannit and SEJ. It means if you pin your picture at this time, you can maximize your readers volume.
I agree, the longer the post the more engaging it will as this will not only provide more information but also good for reducing bounce rate and good for seo.
Great article! Chances it goes “viral”? Definitely can see some great traffice from the smaller social networks, but how do you get the word out on to all of them? After writing a “long” post and then editing, getting images, and then promoting on the big 3 how do you find time to post to the smaller networks?