How to Write Articles That Go Viral

Daniel Zeevi
Daniel Zeevi Founder & CEO, DashBurst

Posted on February 23rd 2013

How to Write Articles That Go Viral

Writing for social mediaWhat does it take for something to go viral? Have you ever written an article that got a ton of shares on social media sites? If you haven't, you're going to learn 10 tips for writing content that will increase the likelihood of your posts going viral on social media. If you have, you'll be able to review these ideas and potentially further improve your writing in order to provide yourself with even more exposure, visibility, and popularity around the subject and topics your're trying to introduce. By understanding the key concepts that will be listed below, you'll likely be a force to be reckoned with in social media!  

1. Understand Market Trends in Social Media

You should always check out what topics are hot on social media. You might be writing an article about a product, service, fiction or nonfiction. Regardless of what it is, it will need to be relevant today, or on the verge of being important tomorrow. Most people do not want to read about something they already know about. Quite frankly, people try to avoid this type of content because they feel it is simply rehashed in order to tell them the same thing already done before to game some search engine traffic. There are excellent tools available like Twitter Trends and Google Trends that will help you understand market buzz, and by using these resources - you can try to write relevant information based on what is popular today, or likely to be tomorrow. Also learn when is the best time to publish a blog postbased on your target market.  

2. Write Longer In-depth Content

In a study of the New York Times' most emailed list, data showed that longer content is more likely to get shared. This doesn't mean you need to stuff your content with filler, but obviously the more context provided by you, the more valuable the piece becomes to others. One of the most popular ways to write a long effective article that goes viral on social media is to write a story. In fact, if you can make it a long engaging story, or how-to guide providing educational value, these always turn out to be really well liked. People simply love when a person delivers them a story they are passionate about. People also like to be presented a series of content or chapters if you will. In other words, you should deliver a part of your story once a week, or once every two weeks. This will allow those that are interested to share this interest with their friends and guide them to your blog, forum, or posting network to find out more about what your tale is all about and build up more hype. You can use a tool like Storify to bring in rich content from your articles and other reactions across social media. wordcount 

3. Choose an Effective Title and Keywords

Based on the information you've discovered in your market trends and tools like Google Keywords, you'll want to choose effective keywords that will help people find the articles you write. These keywords will guide targeted relevant traffic to those articles. By choosing the right type of keywords, you will effectively bring people to your articles that are willing to share them on their social networks. Also having a killer title is important to bait users into clicking on your article. This is extremely effective if you are writing about social subjects which people simply love to search for and share.  

4. Understand Keyword Density

Do not try to overcrowd your articles with keywords simply because you want to draw in traffic. If you practice this method, you may find out that you will have the reverse effect. Most search engines and people on social networks will do everything possible to avoid this type of content. Your content must read naturally, with feeling, and give the person reading it a reason to share it with their friends on their respective social media network (sort of taking ownership of your articles views publicly).  

5. Make Your Content Interesting and Emotional

Always make your content unique to help draw more people. Speak to the audience not yourself. When writing for social media, you never want to write duplicate content that people can find somewhere else. This simply gives you a bad reputation, and people will not return to read anymore of your content. In fact, they will be less likely to share your content which is what's needed to go viral in the first place. Also think about creating and mixing in interesting new content like pictures, infographics, videos or other rich media people love to see on social media. Also one of the best ways of going viral is to tap into people's emotions triggered by high energy responses caused by feelings of awe, anger and anxiety. It's like with Howard Stern where the people that hated him listened to him longer than his fans, just to see what he'll say next. emotions in conent 

6. Allow Your Content to be Easily Skimmed

According to Nielson, users have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average web page visit; where 20% is more likely. Use a thumb image at the top of your articles to make the opening passage easier to digest and encouraging your readers to continue reading further.  

7. Don't Stuff Your Content With Keywords

Keyword stuffing and keyword density is almost considered the same thing. However, it's not. Keyword density is when the keyword is found too close to another. Keyword stuffing is when you have the same keyword mentioned over and over again in the same article. Most intelligent readers do not want to read articles that contain the same word over and over again. Pay attention to what you're writing so you can build interest which translates into your article going viral. Virality happens in an instant by sparking interest on social media, not from gaming search engines which lead to a slower accumulation of traffic anyways over a longer period of time.  

8. Under Promise and Over Deliver on What You're Writing About

If you are writing about issues that plague the Third World, write about issues that plague the Third World. Do not begin writing about a particular subject and then do the switch and bait and begin writing about a product or service. Let your audience know what you're going to write about and then give them 10 times the information they planned on receiving. Make your first point as strong as your last. Under promise and over deliver and your articles will go viral on social media. People crave interesting and useful content. practical utility helps virality 

9. Share That @#$&

Get your post out there to as many relevant social networks and communities as possible. Recently we took a look at creating multiple entry points into your content by sharing on the major social networks and importantly niche communities like Social Media Today to help build buzz around your great content. You also need to make sure your articles have optimal sharing buttons and cool images attached making it easy for people to share your work.  

10. Ask For Feedback

Lastly, you'll want to test your article to make sure it is worthy content. You can do this by sending your article to several individuals that you trust for a little constructive criticism. This helps to ensure that you aren't writing something that is completely boring for other people to read or with errors. Also ask your audience for feedback. One of the greatest ways to build traction and engagement with your content is to get your audience involved. You now have 10 tips to create articles that go viral on social media. By utilizing these strategies on a consistent basis, you will find that your content will not only go viral, but may even be picked up by some larger news outlets only adding fuel to your fire.

Based on rule #10, I have to end this with a question or I'd be breaking my own set of rules :) However, I'd be really interested to hear about what type of strategies you might be using to successfully go viral on social media?

Daniel Zeevi

Daniel Zeevi

Founder & CEO, DashBurst

Founder of DashBurst, Daniel is a social media scientist, web developer, graphic designer and author. He researches trends from the top industry leading resources to provide businesses with actionable intelligence to create viral websites and social media marketing campaigns. He is also a futurist and content curator always on the hunt for disruptive new technology, creative art and web humor.

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Posted on February 23rd 2013 at 8:13PM

It is very important to make your content easy to share. It may seem obvious but including bold social media buttons for a few networks that conver the best for you often produces better results than a generic tool like AddThis or ShareThis with dozens of options.

Kent Ong
Posted on February 24th 2013 at 3:26AM

Hi Daniel, sharing personal experience and story is very great for viral content.

Nicholas Dureault
Posted on February 24th 2013 at 6:27PM

I really like your article, but I think you've missed a valuable opportunity through Content Linking - just check out the article I wrote on it:

I also agree that you shouldn't overtly keyword stuff or aim for a particular density of keywords but there is absolutely nothing wrong with spoon-feeding the search engines what you content is about by strategically using keywords - I wrote another article about it here:

Everything else seems onpoint!

Thanks for the great article!


Posted on February 24th 2013 at 7:49PM

You included graphs, maybe I missed the bullet about including visuals, but that is probably important.  Not sure how I missed it if I did, I will not go back and re-read to find out.  I have a target market and was led to SMT by looking for help with my blogging anxiety.  Thanks for tips.  Would loved to have less than 10  for beginners .... say 7 or even 3 if you can pull it off with that.  Maybe not for going viral but for increasing interest in beginning.   Anyway, still love setting the bar high.  Also gained much from the comments that followed. 

So much to learn and I'm old.