The term “viral” in the context of content marketing refers to a piece of content that has rapidly spread across the internet via social sharing. Viral content has the potential to significantly boost brand awareness, customer engagement, and website traffic. But how exactly does content go viral, and what elements contribute to this phenomenon? This blog post delves into the science behind creating viral content, breaking it down into digestible insights.
Understand the Emotional Connection
Research shows that content that elicits strong emotional responses—whether positive or negative—is more likely to go viral. This is based on the psychological principle of emotional contagion, which suggests that people unconsciously mimic and feel emotions expressed by those around them. Essentially, if your content can make your audience feel something strongly, they’re more likely to share it.
For instance, content that inspires, amuses, or surprises often performs well. However, the key is to genuinely resonate with your audience’s feelings and experiences, not to manipulate emotions artificially.
Leverage Social Currency
Social currency refers to the value people gain from sharing information. If sharing your content makes a person appear knowledgeable, entertaining, or in-the-know, they’re more likely to spread it. To maximize social currency, create content that is fresh, engaging, and offers value or unique insights.
The Power of Storytelling
Human beings are inherently drawn to stories—they help us make sense of the world around us and stimulate our emotions. A compelling narrative can be a powerful tool in creating viral content. The more captivating your story, the more likely it is to be shared. However, it’s essential that your story aligns with your brand’s values and resonates with your target audience.
Harness the Influence of Others
The concept of social proof comes into play here. People tend to follow the actions of the masses, assuming they reflect the correct behavior. In terms of viral content, if influential people or a large number of people share your content, others are likely to follow suit. This is why influencer partnerships can be so effective in spreading your content far and wide.
Make it Easily Shareable
The more accessible and shareable your content is, the more likely it will go viral. This includes considerations like making sure your content is optimized for mobile viewing and ensuring that share buttons are prominent and easy to use. Additionally, consider the platforms your audience uses the most and optimize your content for those channels.
Timing is Key
Releasing your content at the right time can significantly impact its potential to go viral. If you can tie your content to trending topics or current events (given they’re relevant to your brand), it can increase your content’s visibility. Furthermore, understanding when your audience is most active online can help you determine the best time to post.
Encourage User Engagement
Encouraging user participation can also boost your content’s virality. This could be through contests, challenges, or simply by creating content that provokes discussion. User-generated content, in particular, has a high potential for virality as it inherently involves audience participation.
Quality Over Quantity
Lastly, but most importantly, focus on quality over quantity. Viral content needs to be high-quality, relevant, and valuable. Regularly churning out mediocre content in the hope that something will stick is not a viable strategy for virality.
Creating viral content is not an exact science, and what works for one brand might not work for another. However, understanding the underlying principles that encourage sharing—such as emotional connection, social currency, and storytelling—can guide your content creation process.
Remember, while creating viral content can significantly boost your visibility, it’s crucial to ensure that this content aligns
with your brand’s mission, values, and overall marketing strategy. Virality should not be the only goal, but rather a possible result of creating valuable, resonating, and shareable content for your audience.
In conclusion, virality is a complex interplay of many factors including timing, shareability, emotional resonance, and cultural relevance. By focusing on the principles outlined in this post, content creators and marketers can improve their chances of hitting the “sweet spot” that leads to virality.
However, it’s also crucial to remember that viral content is not the be-all and end-all of content marketing. While it can provide a significant short-term boost in visibility and engagement, sustainable, long-term success comes from consistently providing high-quality content that meets the needs and interests of your audience.
Incorporate these scientific principles in your content marketing strategy and continue to test, analyze, and refine your approach. With diligence and creativity, you’ll increase your chances of producing that exciting piece of viral content while also building a robust, effective content marketing strategy that delivers results in the long run.
The quest for virality, while thrilling, should not overshadow the most critical aspect of your content marketing strategy: building and nurturing meaningful relationships with your audience. With this in mind, you’re well on your way to achieving not just viral content success, but a lasting content marketing strategy that continually resonates with your audience.