Why isn't your amazing content going viral?
You do everything you're supposed to do. You write great blog posts, film interesting videos, and take amazing photos. You share them on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and your other social media channels. You wait for something to happen, and then ... *crickets*. Why aren't people sharing your content? What pushes someone to not only to view it, but to pass it on?
There is a science to creating viral content
The goal of content marketing is to inspire people to spread your message for you, and there is probably nothing more efficient and effective in publicizing that message than a viral content marketing campaign. A successful viral campaign can have 500 to 1,000 times more impact than one that is non-viral. Designing a successful viral campaign is harder than it looks. It must be based on an understanding your audience's characteristics, along with the emotional and psychological factors that elicit their engagement. Let's take a look at what you're doing wrong.
1. There is no emotional appeal
Emotion is the key reason that things catch on. People share emotionally-charged content to make sense of their own experiences, deepen their social connections, and to reduce cognitive dissonance. Campaigns that appeal to positive emotions perform better than those that accentuate negativity. Here's how to make your content more emotionally-charged:
- Get your readers to question themselves. Grab their attention with your headline to get them thinking.
- Come up with a different angle. Offer a new spin on the same old topic that readers see over and over again.
- Write like you speak. This enables your true emotion to come through.
- Know your audience's pain points. This will help you better tailor your message.
2. It's not "share-worthy"
Content that is share-worthy strikes a cord with your audience. Try using humor or creating a useful solution to a real, relatable problem like finding a gardener or shopping for the right car. Jonah Berger, a marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, identifies six elements that drive all kinds of things to become popular and offer calls to action - from consumer products to policy initiatives:
- Social currency: People care about how they look to others. They want to look cool, smart, and in-the-know. Find remarkable things (Will It Blend?) and make people feel like insiders ("Don't tell anyone, but ...").
- Triggers: Top-of-mind means tip-of-tongue. Grow your niche and create memorable content so people are frequently triggered to think about your product or idea.
- Emotion: When we care, we share. Focus on feelings rather than function, and stoke the fire by using high-arousal emotions. (See what I've done with Underwater Puppies? You want to share the photos, don't you? Mission accomplished.)
- Public: The more public something is, the more likely people will imitate it. Design initiatives that advertise themselves (shoes with red soles) or create something visible (cause bracelets).
- Practical value: News you can use. Useful things get shared, so highlight incredible value and package your knowledge/expertise so that people can easily pass it along.
- Stories: Information travels via what appears to be idle conversation. Stories are vessels, so create a story or narrative that people want to tell (Jared the Subway guy) which takes your idea along for the ride.
3. Your content-marketing timing is bad
Timing your content is crucial to whether or not it goes viral. Find the days and times when your content is in the most demand:
- Time of year
- Day of the week
- A particular time of day in your target audience's time zone
- Around related events
4. It's poorly designed
Visual appeal is important, but it's only part of the equation. Just because something is beautiful doesn't mean it will go viral, but bad design can destroy its potential. Design elements can guide users where you want them to go.
- Pay attention to where you place elements on a page. Their location determines how likely readers will be able to see them.
- Bold and subtle colors tell readers where to look.
- Contrast helps elements stand out.
- Larger items draw more attention.
- Use color to your advantage (read this post to learn more).
5. It's poorly distributed
Distribution can give your content the push it needs to get rolling. Consider your distribution channels:
- Do you have any influential connections? They can give your piece the exposure it may not receive on its own.
- Share it via your social media channels and send it to your friends and colleagues.
- If you're marketing video content, use channels other than YouTube to get some traction. Examples include Vimeo, Blip, Howcast, and Yahoo! Screen.
- Buy some advertising. People need to see it before they can share it. Facebook promoted posts increase visibility, as do Twitter ads and promoted pins on Pinterest.
I hope these tips will help you craft viral content marketing campaigns that give you the traction you need for audience engagement!
Images courtesy of Seth Casteel's Little Friends Photo