How to Write Viral Content in 2019
“The first lesson in constructing viral content is having the strength, courage, and self-confidence to get in touch with your own feelings, thinking about what profoundly affects you”- Ken Poirot
Unveiling the secret to writing viral content has been the mission of businesses and researchers for quite some time now. The benefits of viral content go above and beyond purely material ones like advertisers and subscribers, as the above quote suggests. Raising awareness of significant social issues is an intangible benefit that shouldn’t be underestimated.
Provoke Strong, Positive Emotions
A 2011 study by University of Pennsylvania professors, cited by Forbes Magazine, showed that content triggering strong positive emotions like awe performed better. Generally, such content was more successful than content which sparked strong negative emotions like anger.
It Starts With the Headline
The headline is the gateway to any piece of content. It’s the writer’s first and sometimes only chance to draw the reader’s attention and convince them to stay on the page. A headline can make or break a story, with even fabulous content not being able to save you from the latter.
The headline should state the article’s purpose in a clear and concise manner. If you need a number in your headline, it should be odd. Research has shown odd numbers draw more attention than even numbers. Use unusual, interesting adjectives, and communicate to your audience that they’ll be getting maximum value with minimal effort from your piece. For example, “The One Way To Know You’re…” It doesn’t matter how it finishes – you’ve got their attention.
Make sure your content communicates the five Ws (who, when, what, why, and where) clearly and get to the point quickly to sustain your audience’s interest. The five Ws ground them in the basic premise of the content and why it’s important. In a Harvard Business Review article, Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick, co-authors of The Art of Social Media, stated that good content fulfills the following requirements: it explains what something means, what has happened, and/or how to make something happen. Of course, the element of surprise will always work in your favor.
Fitzpatrick and Kawasaki say, “Our experience is that the sweet spot for posts of curated content is two or three sentences on Google and Facebook and 100 characters on Twitter.” For articles, it is between 500 and 1,000 words.
The More You Post…
…the higher the likelihood of your content going viral. Popular blogger Neetzan Zimmerman has said he posted 10 to 15 times daily. It doesn’t end with posting – it’s important to promote content on social media actively and repeatedly. However, don’t do it at the same time every day or on the same days of the week – you want to be able to capture different audiences.
This fact aside, the best times to post are around 9 am and noon on weekdays. At 9 am, you’ll capture readers who are too distracted to start work at the beginning of the business day. Around noon, you’ll catch them on their lunch break.
Visual content has been shown to enhance engagement. Always combine an inspiring headline with a remarkable visual. This guarantees you’ll capture your audience’s interest. An analysis by Buzzsumo found that having an image in a Twitter or Facebook post led to 50% more shares than a post without an image on average. Kawasaki and Fitzpatrick write that total content views increased by 94% if a published article featured a relevant infographic or photo compared to an article in the same category without any image.
Write Good Content!
This is a universally valid principle and a salient component of viral content: a good story told well. Poorly written, weak content quickly becomes relegated to obscurity.
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