Have you ever published content so popular that it went viral? The signs of a viral content outbreak include a great quantity of tweets, likes and +1s, as well as features on industry websites, dramatically higher website traffic and trending on LinkedIn Today. What triggers content to go viral is sometimes out of your control, such as it being featured as a top story on Social Media Today or tweeted by high-profile industry thought leaders. While you cannot manage everything that happens to your content after it is published, there are certain best practices that increase the likelihood of it going viral.
Defining and Measuring Viral Content
Are you unsure exactly how to quantify viral content? Do you know how to track and measure the visibility and reach of your content? To determine whether or not your content is viral content, you must have a reliable set of metrics to analyze your content marketing data. According to Kelsey Libert of Frac.tl, there are three such metrics:
1. The Viral Coefficient
The viral coefficient equals the total number of new content views generated by the single initial viewer. This number is of paramount importance, as it captures the "shareability" factor of your content.
2. Viral Cycle Time
Viral cycle time is the amount of time it takes for the initial viewer to trigger the total number of subsequent content views. Think of viral cycle time as the amount of time it would take for an individual to discover, view and decide whether or not to curate a piece content found on social media. The viral cycle time for social content curation is typically between one and two days; under special conditions though, viral cycle can last longer.
3. The Total Target Market
The total target market quantifies the segment of the online the online population who could find relevance in your content and may be interested in sharing it on social media. For content with mass appeal, the number could go up to the hundreds of millions. However, for targeted, niche content, the total target market could be as low as several hundred or thousand individuals.
True “virality” cannot be attained without a viral coefficient greater than one. The higher the coefficient, the faster and sooner your content will spread across the internet. An extended viral cycle time delays the time it takes to see a viral effect. Fortunately, for online content, the cycle time is short due to social content curation and the nature of digital media. The size of the total target market is vital to the total number of cumulative content views, which makes it critical to carefully consider your target audience before content creation commences. If you crave a massive viral content outbreak, ensure that your content appeals to the masses. Now, how can your content attain a viral content coefficient of one or greater?
To achieve virality, your content must be unique, captivating, relevant, information-rich, high-impact and highly shareable in order to compel high rates of social content curation—thereby extending the reach of your content. Each time your content is liked on Facebook, tweeted on Twitter, “+1ed” on Google+, shared on LinkedIn or “pinned” on Pinterest, it gets a social stamp of approval—magnifying its reach, significantly boosting website traffic and lead generation, and enhancing SEO. While there is no guarantee that your highly shareable content will go viral, there are certain types of content, which have a higher viral coefficient and are more likely to be shared on social media.
7 Contagious Content Types
1. Newsjacked Content
Providing real-time industry news and smart commentary will win you social followers and fans. If you discover a breaking story and have a unique perspective, be the first to newsjack it—riding its tidal wave of trending popularity to a higher number of views, increased traffic and lead generation, and enhanced SEO. Getting in on the social action, when a hot story breaks, allows you access to a larger-than-normal captive audience.
Not all content needs to be in plain text form. An infographic is great at concisely illustrating heavy data and complex processes. Infographics can be created for any subject, as long as you have the data to back them up. They are visually attractive and usually colorful, which can add some needed punch to your website and blog. Infographics are highly shared on social media, especially on visual websites like Pinterest.
3. Statistical Content
People crave numbers and concrete facts. Identify top-notch industry research reports with heavy data and statistics, and use them to give your content supporting evidence and heft. Statistics can make content seem more authoritative and credible. However, take care not to just list statistics. Instead, weave them seamlessly into the fabric of your content—providing ample context and deep industry insight.
4. Case Studies
Although research and statistics are powerful, sometimes readers desire a real-life illustration of data. This is where case studies come into play; they can breathe life into data—making your content more relatable and boosting relevance. Practice active storytelling to make your case studies more shareable.
5. Visual Content
Visual content—including videos, infographics, webinars, podcasts and SlideShare presentations, is becoming increasingly popular, since it allows you to inform and entertain viewers at the same time. Because it takes less focus to watch a short video, viewers may be more likely to watch a video in its entirety rather than read a long, complex blog post to its end. Do not get left in the dust; capitalize on the appeal of visual content to rise above your competition.
6. Hybrid Content
Hybrid content, which mixes written and visual content mediums, is another intriguing option for contagious content creation. An example of hybrid content is a blog post featuring an infographic along with a short, captivating video.
7. Emotionally Resonant Content
Content that inspires happiness, awe, anger or anxiety has been proven to increase the likelihood of a viral content outbreak. No matter which type of content you create, it must resonate and strike an emotional chord with your audience.
Think outside the box; select highly relevant yet original and enticing content topics. Illustrate deep industry insight, and create highly clickable titles, which are clear, concise, relevant, attention-grabbing, actionable, authoritative, intriguing and maybe even slightly mysterious. Create content that compels high rates of social sharing, and your highly shareable content may just go viral—exponentially increasing your reach, brand recognition, website traffic, lead generation and new business generation.