Secrets to Make Your Content Viral

March 20, 2019

“Marriage Isn’t for You,” an article on the Seth Adam Smith blog garnered more than 1.8 million shares on Facebook. His article was picked up by media outlets, including Cosmopolitan, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and others, resulting in thousands of additional shares. It went viral.

What’s the secret to make your content go viral? Why does one post get 50 shares and another 1 million? Or, more importantly, how do you make your content go viral?

Why Does Content Go Viral?

Jonah Berger, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and author of Contagious Why Things Catch On, researched this very question: why does content go viral? In his book, he outlines six principles that drive people to share.

  1. Social currency. People share when it makes them look good or smart.
  2. Triggers. Content that triggers a memory of “oh yeah, I was just thinking/talking about this.”
  3. Emotional. The more we care about something, the more we share and talk about it.
  4. Public. We love to imitate what we see others doing, even the silly stuff.
  5. Practical value. Content that offers new information or practical tips for common problems is more likely to be shared.
  6. Stories. People love stories, whether presented in video or text format. Information, news, even a new product that is tucked inside a story will be shared.

Sounds simple. On the one hand, the secret to make your content viral is easy if you keep these basic principles mind. However, the truth is that it requires strategic focus and considerable effort to produce viral content.

Engaging and Evocative Title

Let’s go back to the Seth Adam Smith viral blog article. Why did it engage readers? The title. The title is evocative. As a reader, you want to know, who is he talking to? Is he anti-marriage? Readers were immediately drawn in.

Once inside, readers got to the essence of the point he was making about marriage. It was a very heart-felt message about the commitment to another’s needs and happiness. Readers were moved and wanted to share it with their friends.

The Trojan Horse
There have been viral marketing videos but those capturing the most shares placed the product in a very subtle way. In general, people don’t want to appear to be marketing your product or idea. Your content needs to be like a trojan horse, with an exterior that is engaging and emotional, filled with useful information, and that has social currency or practical value. Tucked inside is your brand or marketing push in a less visible but memorable way.

More Secrets to Make Your Content Viral
People love visuals which is one of the reasons why Instagram and Pinterest are such successful social media channels. Even if your content is a blog post, use visuals. Break up the text with graphics, videos, photos and lots of spaces. Content that is easier to read is more likely to be shared.
Spread it Around
Don’t leave your content sitting in one place. Post it across multiple digital and non-digital mediums, including your website, blog, social media channels, and email lists. The more places your content shows up the more shares it will net, greatly increasing its chances of going viral.
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Stonehenge Team

Article written by our Stonehenge Digital content team in collaboration