food for thought

The science behind viral content: 6 tips to help you create content that gets shared

Warning: The following content was written for purpose-driven businesses. At ROOT we’re committed to helping heartfelt businesses become the next big thing.  If you are committed to providing a product or service that makes peoples’ lives better and brings meaning to the world, then this blog is for you. Keep reading for insights that can help you surpass the Goliath in your marketplace.

What does it take to go viral? First, you’ll need to be relevant to both your audience and your audience’s audience. Why? Because viral content is defined by its ability to jump networks. It’s that leap across networks that is necessary to produce the rapid and explosive exposure of viral content, and it happens when you create relevance for both the reader and their audience.

We’re not our normal selves online. In person or in a phone conversation, only 30% of the conversation is about us, but online we talk about ourselves 80% of the time. If we’re not talking about ourselves, we’re definitely thinking about ourselves when we share.

Consciously or unconsciously, people share to create or reinforce their identity. We believe that the content we share says something about who we are and what we stand for. Sharing not only helps us become more memorable, but it serves as an opportunity to increase our social status. In short, we share because there’s something in it for us. Keep that top of mind as you create, and you’ll be starting off on the right foot.

So what exactly does it take to make content that goes viral? The following six tips are part of our secret recipe for viral success.

1. Keep it short. 

People have short attention spans. They want something that catches their attention quickly, resulting in a quick and impulsive share.

2. Trigger emotion.

Evoke someone’s emotions and they are likely to share the experience. Lust, awe, joy, anxiety, fear, and surprise are all effective. Interesting fact: studies show that the positive emotions yield the highest responses and shares.

Of all of the emotions, surprise takes the prize, but it’s also a tricky one to master, so we’ll share a couple of pointers here to steer you in the right direction.

When you think about the human experience you will probably recognize that as humans we love the new, but we hate change. Ironic isn’t it? That’s the fine line you are walking with the emotion of surprise. You’ll want to avoid being boring by sharing content that is too familiar. But steer clear of shocking which will shut people down and hold them back from sharing.

4. Make it informative.

Content with practical value will be useful to your audience. Not only will they use it, they’ll share it for a chance to be the hero of somebody else’s day.

Infographics and how-to tutorials are perfect examples of informative content that has the legs to go viral

5. Public news.

People like to be in the know and to share what they know. The more public the news is, the more likely people will share it. It plays on a monkey see, monkey do reflex we simply cannot resist. How can you frame your message to make it public news?

6. Give it context.

This is all about relevance. Play off of relevant topics to get into the conversation. People share what’s on the tip of their tongue. For example, if there’s a global conversation about gender fluidity, think about how your lingerie company can participate in the conversation in a meaningful way.

7. Fan the flames.

Content needs inertia. This is important at any stage in the game, but particularly valuable when your own social reach is just getting off the ground.

An absolute must— point the conversation to a community who cares; add a hashtag! Twitter content with 1-2 hashtags sees 50% more engagement. Hashtag best practices are not universal, so use the best practice for each platform. Check out his article by Hootsuite for a breakdown by platform.

But don’t stop there. One of the best ways to fan the flames is to utilize gatekeepers – these are folks with influence who are in front of your people. Gate keepers can be influencers, media, and others who convene groups of people around a shared interest.

Want access to more insider information to help your business grow? Give us a call, we’d love to help you.


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