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Is There a Secret Formula for “Going Viral”?

Is There a Secret Formula for “Going Viral”?

Have you ever wondered what makes Internet content “go viral?” Obviously, it’s not a matter of logic and professionalism, as we are so painfully reminded by virtually every piece of viral content. However, there is some method to the madness. Research has revealed several trends in viral content which you might be able to take advantage of with content of your own.

It almost seems random, but in theory, it comes down to two things. According to Kelsey Libert, the vice president of marketing at Fractl, content must “Draw in an audience quickly and make them understand what the content is about before they lose interest,” and “Engage them emotionally and give them a reason to share the content.”

According to Libert, there are nine steps to viral content creation that every viral-wannabe person needs to have a handle on:

1. What’s Your Goal?
Viral content is something that can really help your marketing campaigns, especially since a lot of people will see it and respond to it. This goal should be fairly easy to set: Pick a specific, reasonable number, and aim to receive that many views. Defining goals makes them much easier to accomplish.

2. Who is Your Primary Audience?
If you have no clue who your target audience is, your content probably won’t reach them. What are their occupations? How old are they? Do they respond to humor well? Are they primarily men, or women? All variables should be considered so you can best adapt with a marketing strategy.

3. Why do People Share Content?
This goes a little deeper into socio-economics. What makes people want to share content? According to Mashable, content gets shared for two primary reasons: Discussability, and relatability. This goes back to Libert’s statement; the topic of your viral content has to be something that people want to talk about, or something that people can relate to. While this does seem to contradict the ridiculous viral videos out there, it can’t be denied that people will share content if they can connect to it in some manner.

4. Smiles Make Smiles
This is the universal commonality that can be seen among most of the viral videos on the Internet. They make people smile and be happy. This appeals to the emotional self, and the happier a video makes someone, the more likely they are to contribute those positive feelings toward your company and your product.

5. If at First You Don’t Succeed...
Obviously, you’ll have some research to do before a video or marketing campaign can go viral. Come up with multiple ideas and test them out by asking questions about them. Is it original and innovative? Will your audience know what you’re talking about? Will they identify with it? Plan to test your ideas before executing them.

6. Enjoy What You Sell!
Your audience can tell when you’re excited about something, and they can definitely tell when you’re not. If you earnestly think that your content is something great and innovative, others will, too.

7. Looks Are Everything… Well, Mostly
According to Libert, “Visual content that is easy to consume, easy to understand, and quick to digest tends to be most likely to go viral.” Most popular YouTube videos also comply with this rule. Most are simply ridiculous and try to invoke some humor from the viewer. More often than not, they succeed. And unfortunately, in the world we live in today, videos are much easier to consume than text.

8. Slam the Internet with an Epic Title
If something has a great title, it makes it more interesting. Think about it - are you more likely to watch a video titled “How to Use Google Search,” or a video titled “Digging up Gold with Google Search”?  The latter. Be sure to use an engaging title that will catch the audience’s attention.

9. Fame Isn’t Cheap
In order to make money, you have to spend money. This is a little-known fact about this world. When you are looking to make viral content, you can’t be afraid to spend some money. In fact, Libert suggests that you spend roughly one-third of your overall content budget on marketing that content. 

These nine tips will help you create content that has a better chance of going viral, but even if you diligently follow all nine of these steps, you’re still not guaranteed to come up with a piece that goes viral. This leads us to the tenth characteristic of viral content:

10. The X-Factor
Every piece of viral content has something about it that just
dumbfounds all marketing sense and defies human logic.

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