Going viral is the goal of individuals and businesses that use social media to get their message out there. Companies focus a great deal of time and energy on creating content that will achieve thousands of likes and shares and may secure the attention of potential customers. It may sometimes be hard to predict what is going to go viral and what content will be largely ignored. The public can be fickle and unpredictable, but looking at stories and videos that have gone viral, a few qualities stand out.
Dare to Be Different
It is unlikely that a puppy or kitten video, even if the pet is particularly adorable, will go viral. The reason is that there are so many puppy and kitten videos on the internet that the dog would have to be speaking French to garner many shares. People tend not to share content that is a repeat of other types of content, but will repost and share something that is truly fresh and interesting. Items that go viral often have the “you have to see this to believe it” quality.
There are many videos on YouTube featuring a man or woman in a room expressing their opinions on issues of the day. This kind of video can go viral if there is something surprising and honest about what was said. Someone in an interesting setting expressing the views in a straightforward and funny manner could be an attention grabber and create many shares. Videos or articles that change the way we think about things and see our world are likely to gain traction on social media. A blunt and surprising headline is one way to encourage people to open the link and read it. The headline should reflect the content to avoid reader disappointment.
Focus on What People Care About
People will share something in a group or on their own walls if the content reflects their values. One way to address things that are important to people is to focus on the kind of lifestyle that people aspire to. The healthy eating trend is an example of something that reflects the values of people across many demographics and political affiliations. Health food combines something which is a part of everyone’s life, namely food, with ideas and principles such as a commitment to staying healthy or protecting the environment.
There is a great deal of innovation in the health food industry with new products such as Just Mayo from Hampton Creek appearing on the shelves, not just of health food stores but supermarkets. Social media posts that raise awareness about health and are designed to let people know about new products on the market are likely to have many shares. Recipes are particularly shareable, as well as video demonstrations on how to make certain kinds of food. That is one reason why many food companies have informative videos on the websites.
Ripe for Discussion
Facebook can become a place where people make friends, and unfortunately, can stop being friends over controversies and debates. People have a love-hate relationship with controversy on Facebook, but there is no doubt that people spend a good portion of their day defending a position or disagreeing with someone on social media. Creating a post that invites discussion or addresses a topic people are passionate about can help your content receive many shares. Providing a fresh outlook on a subject that is trending can create active discussion on the topic.
Social media has entirely changed the way we communicate, make friends, and receive and share information. To make it in the competitive environment, a company has to have a healthy social media strategy. It is hard for individuals to get their point of view across nowadays and to raise awareness without the help of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. In addition to the interview process, many employers screen candidates by looking at their social media activity and their LinkedIn profiles.
Going viral is the goal of anyone who wants to promote a product or an idea, and while it can be difficult to predict what will go viral, there are certain qualities that shareable material has. Unique content that addresses an issue people care about in a fresh way invites many likes and shares. People like discussing engaging content and share it with others, and that is why it is important to create content that provokes discussion if you want to go viral.
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Also published on Medium.