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5 Basics to Having Your Post go Viral

Posted By Stacey Roberts 22nd of May 2015 General 0 Comments

5 basics to having your post go viral - the foundations of shareable content on ProBlogger.net

The longer I blog, the more I hear of bloggers trying to go viral.

I’m sure on top of posting consistently, using social media strategically, and generally providing interesting, useful, and inspiring content on the internet, it would be a little help if that content was seen by as many people as possible. Even better if those people hang around and provide ongoing traffic. Going viral wouldn’t hurt, right?

While it won’t happen to everyone, and it’s almost impossible to force, there’s no doubt going viral can be useful when you can get it. Viral posts usually have similar threads in common, so you’re bound to give your post a little push if you can ensure it contains this combination of essentials:

1. Reach out and touch somebody

The one aspect that always appears in viral content is its ability to invoke an emotion in the reader.

No emotion? No sharing!

In addition to that, the most shared content is said to be content that evokes a strong positive emotional response. So yeah anger and indignation will get people sharing (outrage is also good!), apparently what works best is the warm and fuzzies. A 2010 study of the New York Times “most emailed” list found the articles that were shared often tended to fall into one of four categories: awe-inspiring, emotional, positive, or surprising.

Recently, two professors studying the motivations of virality came to the conclusion that while content is shared for ultimately many reasons, it’s emotional reactions that tend to drive the most shares. In addition to that, content that makes your heart race is more likely to go viral. Written anything that powerful yet?!

In the article, they say “Content that makes readers or viewers feel a positive emotion like awe or wonder is more likely to take off online than content that makes people feel sad or angry, though causing some emotion is far better than inspiring none at all.”

Have a think about how you can get your message across. Is there a personal story you can share? Is there a humanist spin you can put on it? How can you really create your post with “resonating with the reader” in mind?

Viral content is compelling, interesting, funny, moving, and if you’ve really hit the jackpot – the next item on our list!

2. Be useful

Everybody loves a life hack. I’ve been eating apples wrong all this time? Chinese Takeout? Slicing grapes? Mind blown, must share.

When you think about creating content that people can’t help but share, thing about how you can be useful. How you can add value, find their pain points and solve them. Have they got questions? Answer them? Be inspiring, be emotive, heck, maybe even be a little controversial. But useful content is king – you’re starting off on the right foot if you’ve got that down pat.

3. It’s all about the reader

Apparently people will share content when it says something about who they are. It might make them seem intelligent, it might show how much they care for the less fortunate, or it might just show they’ve an excellent sense of humour. They’ll share reflections of their personalities, and you’re going to give them the content to do just that. The article says sharable content is “often a statement about what you believe in, what causes or values you align yourself with, and what, in particular, you love and identify with”, so make sure your content fills one of those needs.

Aaaaaaand I googled the term “extreme selfies” after reading that article. Buzzfeed, you’ve done it again!

4. Get a Head Start

If you want your content out there, being seen by the max amount of eyeballs possible, then begin by putting it there. Don’t just publish and hold your breath. We all know Facebook is making it difficult to be seen in newsfeeds, and evidence is showing Twitter doesn’t drive traffic like it once did – so think outside the box. I’m sure you’ve got an RSS or email post mailout sorted, but you can also upload to Slideshare, LinkedIn, YouTube, have something in your email signatures, forum signatures, you can submit to Digg and Reddit if you can, even StumbleUpon if you think that might help.

Don’t discount Google+, there’s still a few going strong over there! Some blog commenting systems (particularly WordPress style ones) have the option to link to a post – choose that one when you’re commenting. Post it to Pinterest – several times. Does it have a Pinterest-worthy image? Get on that!

Have you sorted the SEO? Is it keyword-rich (but natural, because nobody’s gonna read a robot)? Have you provided keywords for images, and in the alt-text? Have you checked the metadata?

You can ask people to share, if you think it will help. Email influential people (if relevant) and ask them to share if they feel it will benefit their readers. Ask people to retweet. Invite them to share at the bottom of your posts. Mention sharing in your Facebook update. Ask your friends and family to share if they can/want to. Sometimes all it takes is a little prompt.

It also doesn’t hurt to jump on a news story or trend when it’s reaching its peak. Does it have an angle you can cover on your blog? What is capturing the internet’s attention that you can build on, or provide an alternative opinion to? Do you have further information, something themed that will resonate, or have you covered this issue before? Ride that wave!

5. Make it easy

You really can’t expect people to share if you haven’t made it easy for them to begin with [tweet that!]. Have clear social sharing icons displayed prominently (wherever works for you – a scrolling set on the side, at the bottom of your post, at the top, etc), and ensure you’ve configured them to show the top five or six platforms you think will be most useful or that people are likely to share on.

Provide tweetable quotes, like I have above. Two clicks and they’re done! Have a Facebook-sized image somewhere in your post that people can use. Lead that horse as close as you can to the water, and they just might drink!

Have you ever had a post go viral? Did it fit the criteria here? Do you remember the viral posts that have caught your attention? What was it about them that compelled you to share? I’d love to chat!

Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama or be entertained on Facebook.

About Stacey Roberts
Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama, follow on Pinterest for fun and useful tips, peek behind the curtain on Instagramand Snapchat, listen to her 90s pop culture podcast, or be entertained on Facebook.
  1. Everybody loves social media. Good point. Thanks for this.

  2. Hello, Stacey

    Your article on Problogger always makes me refresh. This one is very informative. Thanks for your regular posts.

    I think your #3 steps “It’s all about the reader” is the main thing to go viral of any blog post.

    Happy Blogging :-)

    Waiting for your next post.

  3. Most of you wrote is common sense, but some times we need to hear what we already knew.
    Thank you.

  4. I’ve been slicing grapes wrong? You made me laugh! Excellent tips too. Thank you. x

  5. It’s true, most of these things are all common sense, but only really once you see them. It’s good to have this kind of information available, for 2 reasons… 1. To show people how to do something, and 2. To reassure those others that they’re doing it right.

    Great article!

  6. Good article with plenty of great points. I especially like that you included outside, reputable research, but I also like how you pack a lot of important info into an easy-to-read post. I’ve read stuff like this before, some here, some there–you know how that goes. But you’ve condensed the important information and added plenty more–very useful, and I can refer back to it. Thanks. (And I know it’s nothing you can force!)

    Oh and I had one guest post that was pretty popular–a little over 3k shares total. Does that count as viral? It was a grammar quiz (of all things!). But it was set up to be pretty funny. Not too difficult, not too easy.

  7. Well, it’s not hard to get viral after reading this article :)

  8. best way to go viral is write content and try to get a share or tweet from a celebrity or a brand. If we can reach more audience it has a higher chance of getting viral. The same happened with a joke, when a normal user shared it only few people read it but once some huge brand shares it, it goes viral

  9. Great article Stacey. I agree that you need to make the post less about you and more about the reader. Too many folks are on ego trips when they write and want the world to know it. Make something that the user can connect with, where they say ‘man I think she was inside my head when this was written’ and you’ll see a huge upswing in shares and popularity.

  10. Great post Stacey.

    I had a few posts go viral this year. One was on a stock investment I had that went up over 6000%, another was a blog about buying your first house.

    Sometimes it’s good to tell a story about something we’ve done. It could capture someone’s attention.

  11. Hi,

    +1 like. Very helpful post. This blog post will certainly be better to me for boost good blog traffic.

    Thanks for sharing !

  12. Up until last month, my most viral post had been shared around 1,200 times – which I thought was spectacular seeing as most of my posts get shared less than 100 times (we’re a news / opinion site, although our “opinion” side is less than 10% currently)

    Last month I had an opinion piece shared almost 15,000 times across Facebook and Twitter.

    It provoked a number of emotions I guess, although I never set it out to..

    It was about a fan being ejected from a football ground for chanting vile chants. I guess the two emotions were disgust or anger, and then pride or (I don’t want to say it but maybe) gratitude for the reaction to those chants.

    I started as a negative story, about someone doing something negative, but then ended up as a positive story due to the consequences of it

    If only more things like that happened!

  13. Stacey,your article deserves to be viral and once again thanks for this cheerful article

  14. Doing so is a great way to build deep online personal relationships, while being of service to others. That’s true transformation.

  15. Hi Stacey,

    The mentioned 5 points are significant in bringing a good amount of traffic to the site. My few posts went viral on Flipboard but others not, this is where the points you mentioned actually worked.

  16. Hi Stacey!

    Great article (hope you remember me; a few chat over email last year).

    For me, I was lucky to gain one. For starters, title must be a headshot. No two ways around that!

    Go with something BIG but make sure what you are giving is on par or MORE than the title. Also facts are good if not you will be shot right out of the sky!

    Great article and keep it up!

  17. All great tips, I typically do all the above. Most of my time outside of blogging is spent doing the promotion of a particular post I want to have ranked and views – it’s a lot of work indeed!

  18. Hi Stacey,

    I am huge on story telling; folks love a good story. If I share my story and add that emotion you speak of I draw in more readers and shares. If you live the dream, share the dream! This helps others connect with you if they crave the same dream. It’s key to share your prior struggles too. Make that bond as if people can relate you are more likely to go a bit more viral ;)

    Smart tips!


  19. Enjoyed reading your post and I agree with all of you points. It’s easier said than done but once you’ve posted something that’s useful, viral-worthy, and that readers can relate to it then it’s a good move! The only thing that you really need to do is to be more creative. Social medias are a necessity these days and people get to communicate, share and learn new ideas. Good job!

  20. I want to share my personal experience here to go viral. You need to join different Facebook groups related to your business same with LinkedIn and Google plus. In Google plus you need to join different communities and when you share your post on Google Plus you need to use these communities with the help of hash tag. You will get awesome result and your post will go viral in few hours. People love to comment on your post because you are going to share it in right communities and groups.

  21. Hi Stacey Roberts,
    such a nice article, all your tips are eye catching and boosting me to follow your tips. It would help me to boost my blog traffic and make my post go viral. Thanks for your valuable tips.

  22. I tried my best to bring a content which become viral but I in failed, now I will try your tips so hopeful that it will work for me. Thanks for your efforts. Best wishes from Pakistan.

  23. Hey Stacey,

    I like the idea of reaching out and touching someone, because it’s true.If you don’t find out what makes people tick and tap into those emotions, then your blog post won’t go anywhere. I like the fact that you pointed out what emotions to tap into in order to get the best response.

    Also number 3 says a lot. I always say you are what you attract. Whatever you’re feeling, your peers and audience will feel the same. Being something that you’re not can cause problems in the long run. So instead, convey the content that most resonate with you and your audience. This has worked out quite well for me and brought me and my audience much closer!

    Thanks for sharing Stacey! Have a good one!

  24. I think reach out and touch someone is key. If you can really tap into your readers emotions they will gladly share. There are a lot of ways to make and post or video go viral, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. If you write with the goal in mind of moving people then I think you increase your chances a bit more.


  25. Great post Stacey! The basics aren’t discussed too much nowadays when it comes to viral marketing. Those are definitely good starting points :)

    Also, you mentioned SEO, some posts actually go viral only after some time, in some cases, they get found in the SERPS and somebody shares them so you are right on point.

    Enjoy the weekend Stacey!

  26. Pretty cool but apart from all the steps that you have mentioned ..how will I go for the social promotion in the world today where Facebook is asking for money for each and every post to show up to the users and I have no fan following as such?

  27. Hi..
    Thank you for sharing this article and sharing information about the social media . everybody loves social media. Good point. Thanks for this.Great article Stacey. I agree that you need to make the post less about you and more about the reader. Too many folks are on ego trips when they write and want the world to know it. Make something that the user can connect with,

  28. Hi Stacey,
    Very useful points… I have working for quite sometime now….. but i guess i know my mistakes now… i have been unable to reach to my readers emotionally… Thanks for such a handy post.

  29. all 5 tips really work , i got good results from all 5 tips

  30. I am a newbie blogger. This strategy that you have shown in this post will help me a lot. I will try to use the strategy to improve my blogging. I think that many bloggers will find this post useful.

    Thank you!

  31. Hi..
    Thanks for sharing the information about social media these are very useful points.I have working for quite sometime now.but i guess i know my mistakes now… i have been unable to reach to my readers emotionally really I think every body like social media and read and everybody loves social media.

    thank you

  32. Really Helpful post! Really like the point “Be Useful”. We all have to share useful infomration for Post go Viral.. Another thing I like to add here is Infographics which are really helping your content goes viral. I am currently in progress of making my old post into visual graphics becuase its really trending these days! I must suggest everyone that you all should start using visual elements on your post!

  33. i love whne my post went viral. it help me to minimize my effort to looking for traffic. What can i say is, 1 viral article is more valuable than other 100 informative article but not has vhight virality rate.

  34. You couldn’t have said it any better. This is going to be my “bible” for making my posts go viral. These tips actually demands more effort and how ironic you have to expend so much more in just a blog post. Once again thanks for this.

  35. Great informative piece! Thank you

  36. Oh Darren and friends. I need every word of this as I pluck up courage to transfer my old website to WordPress as a Blog. a new experience for me. I will need to follow accurately many steps to complete the process. If there is a mistake to be made. I can make it. But today is the day to take the plunge. 3 years of website building tuition and the only sale through Amazon links has been a stylus for a tablet – a mistake probably. Emotion and usefulness must come to the fore, and these new ideas, strategies and thoughts will be buzzing around as I revamp into a Blog format. Somuch to learn for an octogenarian. Wish me luck and some intelligence and some warmups for acclerando please. I don’t think my Musical Instruments niche is a buzzer. Thank you, thank you.

  37. Here’s a how to please? I would love to link to outside articles, photos etc. How do I do this from HTML?
    Will I need to use HTML codes in my New Word Press Blog format? I don’t like to abuse the time of great Happiness contacts at WP. They have been wonderful so far. I’m in Melbourne, Downunder. Does that affect the clicks I get in USA where most of my clicks come from – but nobody buys. My Old site is sitting in xml form, silently waiting for its new home in WordPress and I am very nervous about the next steps. Its links still work, but it needs updating now.

    Also friends say it is too much to read at once,.I do go on, once started. Is there a method of condensing content, it to just showienough to awaken interest and then adding “more……..’ how can I do that? Is that a link? Does it have a name. Any help willl be greatly, greatly appreciated.

  38. Turn content into an infographic. Infographics are attention grabbing and engaging on social media. They are a visual representation of information, data or knowledge intended to present content quickly and easily.

  39. Thanks Stacey! Great article as always!

    Totally agree Sherman Smith!
    I feel like we attract our tribe by whatever our vibe is. Sure, we may attract some haters here and there but when it comes to telling stories, the people who relate to us the most are the ones who will keep coming back for more.

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