Viral marketing content is shared, liked, and commented on by an unusually large number of people in a short period. It’s important because increased audience engagement creates top-of-mind awareness for your product, marketing campaign, or brand. There are marketing tools that can help you achieve this. Here are our top 10 marketing tips for making your content go viral.
1. Know Your Audience
Your audience is your market, and you should always have it in mind when crafting your content marketing campaign. Let’s say you run a clothing store targeting men aged 25-40 years. These are the customers who buy from you, so your marketing campaign needs to resonate with them.
Invest in research to understand who they are, where they live, their income, and their fashion preferences. Find out which social media platforms they are on and what time they show up there. Once you establish these attributes, you will be able to craft content that appeals to the audience’s emotions and is relatable—key features of viral campaigns.
2. Craft a Catchy Title
The title of your message will determine whether people read your content or not. Research shows that 8 out of 10 people only read the headline. Even those who read the entire message will be attracted by the title, so it’s worth spending time on it. Titles are effective when people know exactly what they are clicking on, and when they promise a benefit to your audience. “Look irresistible in this stylish new blazer” is likely to get you more engagement than “New stock available.”
Create compelling headlines by stating how many tips you are providing, making a promise of a positive emotional feeling, or revealing exclusive information, like “You will never guess who wore this trending design to the Oscars!”
When people feel like they have gained something from your content, they will engage with it, leave a comment, tag a friend, or share it with others. That is the beginning of your content going viral.
3. Create Great Content
Nothing beats authenticity, especially in marketing. Once you’ve attracted your audience with a catchy hook, you must deliver on your promise. If you promised a feeling, deliver it with great content. People shun click-bait—sensationalized or misleading headlines such as “You will never believe this !”—and move towards well-crafted, emotionally appealing content. Great content is a moving target, though. What may impress one audience may not impress another. However, people realize when effort and thought were put into a message creation process.
The form of the content doesn’t seem to matter—we’ve witnessed viral videos, memes, blog posts, and tweets. What is unique about all these messages, however, is that they are outstanding and emotive. Once one person feels emotionally connected to your marketing message, they will share it with peers in the hope that they will feel the same way.
4. Choose Your Platform
Viral content transcends platforms. We have seen content created on one social media platform reaching huge numbers on another. Many TikTok videos, for example, have been viewed more on WhatsApp and vice versa.
To achieve a wide audience for your content, create it for the social media platforms where most of your audience is. For example,18-24-year-olds are moving from Facebook in droves to Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. More importantly, work with networks that are linked to others and that allow sharing and engagement.
Research what content is best suited for each social media platform. Pictures and copy, for example, are more suited for Facebook, images for Instagram, short videos for TikTok, and longer videos for YouTube.
5. Optimize for Search Engines
Search engines are the undisputed drivers of traffic to websites, and you can improve your content so that search engines will find it more easily—a process called search engine optimization (SEO). For written marketing content, use SEO-friendly keywords based on the search terms your audience is likely to use. Come up with the best keywords by thinking like the customer and studying the competition.
Tools like Constant Contact’s keyword planner can also help you identify the keywords most likely to make your content discoverable and increase its chances of going viral. Take note, however, to avoid keyword stuffing—the practice of inserting a large number of keywords into web content simply to gain higher rankings. Not only is it unethical, but it can also harm your web rankings.
Optimized content is easy to find due to its high ranking, which leads to brand visibility and organic growth. In a content-filled internet space, every marketer’s goal is to outrank competing messages to achieve a higher number of views. Other SEO methods include using links to high-authority websites, such as major news publications, to make your content relevant to the reader and demonstrate its quality.
6. Go for Visual Appeal
Almost all viral content carries great visuals. Even for written content, eye-catching images boost visibility and increase the chances of being shared. Funny or dramatic video openings— remember Game of Thrones?— create relatability and keep the audience engaged. The first few seconds matter a lot, so go for an attention-grabbing thumbnail, a catchy title, and subtitles for when it’s not possible to watch with the audio turned on.
To increase the visibility of written text on your website, use infographics, which are the most easily shared content type due to their ability to simplify complicated issues.
7. Make it Shareable
Making your content shareable, regardless of the platform you choose, gives you a better chance of reaching a wider audience. And if you allow your audience to engage with your content, you are on your way to viral status.
People want what is easy, so embed social media sharing buttons, even when using email marketing. Repeated tags and shares lead to growing visibility and the viral effect you are looking for. Enhance the shareability of your content with a call to action such as “leave a comment below.”
This gives the reader social permission by inviting them to share and comment. Tools like Hubspot will help you further drive engagement by growing traffic, converting leads, and tracking your marketing campaign progress.
Some website builders have tools that allow you to share your content on social media platforms easily, so it's worth looking into what they have to offer before choosing a website builder for your site.
8. Evoke Emotions
Did you know that people are more likely to share content that makes them emotional? When someone feels joy, they will want to pass it on to their social circles. Marketing content that tells your brand story while tugging at your target audience’s heartstrings is the sweet spot.
A Stanford University study revealed that the emotions most elicited by engaging content are joy, surprise, and awe. However, negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, and lust can also drive engagement, and content showcasing injustice also tends to be heavily shared. Whatever tone you adopt, take care not to lose your brand character or confuse your intended messaging with overly emotive content.
9. Consider Influencer Promotions
Influencer marketing is a key cog in the wheels of digital content marketing. Influencers will drive engagement by associating their own positive brand attributes with your content in your target audience’s eyes. Take care to select influencers who are relevant to your brand and can drive content engagement in a creatively natural way.
For example, travel influencers like the Vagabrothers would be a great match for an outdoor gear brand. Partnering with influencers seems like a natural fit when the audience already knows them and follows them for that type of content.
10. Time Your Content
Did you know that the time of sharing your content determines how much visibility and engagement it gets? The best time for sharing content will naturally depend on when your audience is present on social media. You will need to conduct some research based on the performance of previous posts on your social media pages.
Posting during high activity hours may mean you are competing with other content, but this is the best time for your content to stand a chance of going viral. Food posts perform better towards mealtimes, while entertainment posts tend to get more engagement towards the weekend and at the end of the day when people’s minds are set on relaxation and partying.
While it isn’t guaranteed that your content will go viral, the above 10 tips will increase your chances of achieving it.
Invest in knowing your audience, create great content, and launch it with a catchy title. Your audience appreciates the effort you put into the creative process, and they will reward it by commenting, liking, and sharing within their circles.
Choose a social media platform that has a large audience, and post during your audience’s high activity times while paying attention to SEO techniques. Go for visual appeal to the emotions, and look for ways to highlight these through influencer promotions.
You can also check out these brands who pulled off guerrilla marketing tricks and learn from their success.