While this is not a hard-and-fast formula, there are four elements frequently at the core of what makes content go viral. Basically, this is what the messengers, the message and the environment need to do to send a campaign through the roof.
Much has changed since the term “viral” entered the marketing lexicon, but one key aspect remains crucial: where the content is housed. Any website can potentially go viral if the content on it allows for it, but this often happens as a result of luck, so sites are unprepared. If you want your campaign or content to go viral, you need to add the right levers to increase the chances.
In the early days of the internet, viral content needed a viral website to be strikingly unusual. Nowadays, a viral website needs only be:
Of course, your website must contain valuable content. Content that will not only make people want to share it with their friends, but content that they feel needs to be shared with the whole world if possible!
Viral content needs to be understood as content that not only targets a niche audience, but that caters to a large number of people from different subcultures. An example of non-viral content would be if you have food recipes, because food recipes will only be of interest to food minded people.
It can, of course, go kind of viral within a certain audience, but its outreach will not go further than that. An example of viral content is celebrity gossip, because celebrities inundate almost every aspect of popular culture, and word about something that a celebrity did will undoubtedly land on the news feed of anyone with a social network account.
Viral content can also be miscellaneous stuff that is so out of the norm that it deserves to be shared, like new tech products, scientific discoveries and news pieces.
Social media is, without a shadow of doubt, the behemoth force responsible for creating most viral content. This is because social media makes it incredibly easy for content to spread quickly among different groups of people, with each group reaching out to other groups of people until a piece of content is all over the place: viral!
Any marketer can leverage social media to spread content thanks to the very nature of the ways in which social media channels work and the options made available to them. For starters, once you get a piece of content out there and it reaches people with high social networking potential, these highly social individuals share it for their contacts to share in return.
On the other hand, most social networks give you paid advertising options that you can use to give a little boost to your viral marketing campaign or to promote it outright.
No matter your approach, if your content is high quality and has the potential to go viral, social media will do most of the work for you.
Keep in mind that each platform’s algorithm is different, so be sure to match content to the right platform. Facebook is still the largest social media network, but your video content will have better luck gaining traction on platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube. Don’t underestimate the power of Reddit, Twitter, and Tumblr for text content, either.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that if you are intentionally making viral marketing content, then you should monetize it. Viral marketing is designed to drive as many people to see your content as possible. Monetization is simply the next step, mainly because you will be taking these people to the same place to consume your viral content: your website.
If you’re relating the content to your product or service, make it easy for your site visitors to make the leap from content to purchase. Be careful of overselling or pushing, lest you turn off prospective customers.