The anatomy of a viral post
The average piece of content collects a meager eight shares. Obviously, that’s not exploiting the potential of the web, so let’s look at the anatomy of an “average” viral post and identify what makes a re-Tweet, like, or share most likely.
Why do people share content?
Before diving into our list, it’s important to understand why people share content. When you strip away the technology, viral information really isn’t anything new to humanity. We choose to share online content in the same way we decide which information to exchange with people face to face. In general, blogs, articles, videos, etc., are passed along because they reflect either an element of our own personalities we’d like people to know about, or they’re an attempt at springing people into action, either through tips on more mindful living, raising awareness to a cause, or a warning. In other words, when we share, we’re reaching out to bond, stay connected, establish our intellectual value, or offer advice.
Most viral posts share these general traits:
- They entertain: either through comedy, amazement, or general amusement
- They nourish ego and tribalism: information is shared to identify us as intellectually aligned with certain ideologies, or that makes the sharer look smart
- They are from trusted sources
What makes a video go viral
Now that we have a basic understanding of why people share content, let’s get into the details of how to make your posting irresistibly shareable.
1. Lists. Everybody is busy these days; the first step in sending your post viral is getting people to read it. Lists are easy to process, quick to read, and they offer a sense of completion as well as authority. Here’s the trick, and it’s a strange one: according to Social Media Today, the number of items on your list affects its shareability! Lists of 10 are the most likely to be shared, followed by 23 items, then 12, with lists of 24 coming in fourth.
2. Video. While just about everyone likes watching video, there’s a significant group of people who’d rather read as little as possible. To come up with a video idea, think about the problem your product is providing the solution for and create a short video demonstrating how effectively it comes to the rescue, or if you’re providing a service, Video Sales Letters (VSLs) can effectively offer advice that your audience feels compelled to share.
3. Quiz ‘em. We all like feeling smart, so it’s no wonder that eight out of the ten most shared articles were quizzes. This format also taps into our competitive nature, as people can’t seem to resists posting their scores after sharing the link to a quiz they aced.
4. Use images. If your posting has a picture, it’s twice as likely to be shared. This shouldn’t be a surprise. Whether it’s a photograph, illustration, or stats, images can help craft the tone of an article, and allow readers to quickly access the value of the information you’re providing.
5. Don’t add to their stress. Cute, funny, or happy posts are much more likely to be shared. Unless you’re offering a warning you have the answer to (in that case, go ahead and raise the red flag), nobody wants to pass along negativity to the people they care about.
6. Tell them who you are. Providing an author byline adds credibility to your assertions, which in-turn provides a safety net allowing your would-be sharers to confidently spread the knowledge in your post.
7. Tell a good story. Videos involving conflict, controversy, and humor inspire the most shares, and this can be applied to all content. Maybe you have a funny customer testimonial, or a product that shines light on a contentious subject, each of these tie into the shared traits of viral posts mentioned above.
8. Endorsement-shares. If you have a spokesperson, or a connection to a high profile industry insider, asking them to share your post not only increases your credibility, it also taps into their vast social network!
9. Keep re-posting. Social media usually uses a scrolling method of presenting user content, so it’s easy for people to miss your post. Re-posting weekly is a great way of picking up those viewers who slipped through the cracks.
10. Longer is better. While it seems counter-intuitive, and even contradictory to the first item on our list, no matter who you ask, they’re likely to agree: long format content, statistically speaking, generates more shares. The reasoning is much easier to understand: the more words, the more optimized your content is for search engines.
Even with these tried and proven methods, coming up with content people feel compelled to share can be a tricky process. Fortunately, the expert staff at Content Bacon is on-hand to guide your company through the process. If you want guidance on how to fully exploit your online presence, call us today!