How to go viral in 9 steps

Content marketing is fast becoming the most effective way to promote your brand and build consumer confidence in your business. However, compiling loads of content on your company’s website is a huge waste of time if no one reads it.

To increase the odds that your next blog post will go viral, take the following steps:

  1. Make your content easy to share. This may sound obvious, but many blogs don’t have easy-to-locate Share buttons. Ensure that yours are visible at the top and/or bottom of your posts to increase the chances that readers will share your content.
  2. Don’t skimp on quality. Business owners are often reluctant to give away valuable information, but understand this: People don’t read or share lousy content. If you want to reach more readers, craft strong, meaningful articles. Proofread your posts to correct any misspellings and grammatical mistakes before you publish them. Make the text look pretty on the page. For example, if you are offering a white paper, it should be well-designed (with headlines, subheads, sophisticated images, bullet points, and so on). “Free” doesn’t mean “cheap,” and your readers should feel like they are gaining something valuable in exchange for their time.
  3. Emphasize the benefits of reading your words. If people don’t click on your links, they won’t read your posts. Give your missives succinct titles that plainly tell people how their lives or jobs will improve if they read your content. Restate that benefit in the first few lines of each article. Negative angles historically perform better, perhaps because readers can empathize with a pain point or fear the outcome of not learning what you have to say. Example: “5 Management Mistakes You Must Avoid.”
  4. Make every word count. Experts debate the ideal length of articles and blogs. Don’t worry about this too much; just ensure that every word you include matters. Provide hard data to support your points, but don’t use a bunch of fluff or filler copy to make pieces longer. Your purpose is to inform or educate your readers. Once you have done so, stop writing.
  5. Make pieces easy to scan. At the very least, break articles into short (three to five sentences) paragraphs. Better yet: Use bulleted or numbered lists, as shown here!
  6. Integrate pictures and videos. People love images, and they are more likely to share and comment on them than any other type of content. Including images also makes it possible for others to share your content on sites like Pinterest. Note that you must own or get copyright permission for any image or video that you post. Haven’t yet tried video marketing? Check out Twitter’s Vine, which makes it relatively easy to get started.
  7. Connect to current events, but take a unique stance on the topic. Simply chiming in on a major event is unlikely to get you noticed, because you’ll be battling the big media outlets for mindshare. Consider taking a firm stance against what the “experts” are saying to get people’s attention. However, don’t turn into a jerk or become offensive while challenging the status quo. Let your emotions shine through, because others can relate to real people with real feelings.
  8. Watch your humor. You never know how people will interpret your jokes, especially when they don’t really know you. Without the benefit of gestures and tone of voice, sarcastic quips or “kidding around” may be read the wrong way. This can quickly turn off your readers.
  9. Market your work. You can’t just publish a post and forget about it. Actively market your free content by posting it across all social media channels — Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and so on. Share it with any groups or forums that you belong to, and email it to your contacts and customers. Finally, ask your colleagues and friends to share it with people they know.

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