This article originally appeared on PR Daily in May of 2018.
What’s the essential element of any promotional campaign?
You want more people to be aware of your product or service. You want more of them to pay for it. You want more of them to recommend it to their friends and social media followers. In one way or another, your promotional efforts are related to attracting more attention.
If you manage to bring viral attention towards a specific piece of content, you’ll instantly boost the awareness.
How exactly do you create viral content? Here are seven ways:
1. Focus on long-form content.
Online marketing guides constantly repeat one thing: The attention span of the audience is not that great.
Content developers often misunderstand the recommendation. It’s all about creating readable and engaging content—not necessarily about creating short content. An experiment at ProBlogger proved that longer posts outperformed regular-sized posts.
Why does the general audience prefer longer posts? For starters, they offer more value for their time. They provide more information, which they can digest in one go. Instead of searching for several articles that tackle different aspects of the topic, they get a single piece that meets their needs.
For long-form content to go viral, it has to be perfectly formatted. The sentences and paragraphs should still be short and focused on your point.
2. Use great images.
When you’re developing content with the wish to make it viral, you need to make it look good when shared. It has to look good on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and all other platforms.
BuzzSumo conducted a study of over one million articles with the intention to find out how images affected the popularity of written content. They found that using an image once every 75-100 words doubled the number of shares.
This doesn’t mean you should suffocate your article with one image after another. It only means that you should break up the content with images, so you’ll improve readers ability to scan it. The images, screenshots or graphics should be highly relevant.
3. Make the sharers look smart.
When people share content, it’s mostly because they want to appear smart in the eyes of others. So why don’t you just let them?
You can make your content more intelligent by using facts and stats. You can also do it by tackling risky topics that people avoid talking about. Using humor and sarcasm is also a good way to create smart content, but you have to do it really well.
4. Be a good storyteller.
Storytelling is not always the best idea, but it works wonders when you fit it in well. If, for example, you’re maintaining a website that teaches people how to handle DIY projects, you can share real user stories. Interview some of your users and show how a specific project improved their lifestyle.
If you can think of any newsworthy or emotionally-compelling stories that are related to your brand, feel free to fit them into your content marketing campaign. Stories are appealing to people’s emotions, so it’s no wonder why they get so many shares.
5. Be positive.
Believe it or not, positivity wins the battle when it comes to viral content.
Whatever your topic is, you must find a positive angle to it. Even if you’re writing about devastating things, you should turn it into a campaign that drives positive actions from people.
6. Make the content useful.
You’re creating the content because you want to promote your brand, but why would someone read and share it? What will their reason be?
You must give them a very good reason and make it evident from the headline. Maybe they will learn something new. Maybe they will be inspired to make a change in their lives. Maybe they will find the product they’ve been looking for.
7. Measurement is key.
You may create the best piece of content, but it won’t go viral. Why did that happen? If one of your publications went viral, why did that happen?
You’ll have to measure the results of your posts so you’ll understand what works and what doesn’t work. Specifically, you want the number of social mentions, shares, generated leads and the overall number of visitors at that page.
You can never be 100 percent sure that a certain piece of content will go viral. If, however, you deliver exactly what your audience needs, you’ll increase your chances.