Virality is the new metric for popular social media posts. You can say that a post has gone viral if it gets a huge number of likes and shares in a short time, and is even cross-shared to other social media platforms.
For businesses, viral posts mean a great exposure to a large number of potential customers for free. This is why, when they plan their social media posts, all top brands take care to make them memorable. And small businesses are following suit, even if they do not have the same budget and team of talents to rely on.
Actually, the “recipe” for viral posts is not complex. The first viral posts were made by people, on their personal profiles. An intriguing photo or quote, a witty comment on a popular topic, or a heart warming story with strong emotional impact are enough to elicit a lot of comments and shares.
As a business, of course, you are not as free to play on people’s emotions as a private person, but you still have to bet on an emotional response if you want to reach the virality level you desire. Here are a few ideas how to do it:
1. Stir up Controversy
Controversy – the right kind of it – is not bad. Actually, every breakthrough in science, art, industrial manufacturing and fashion trends is a form of controversy. In terms of Facebook posting, controversy can be stirred in a positive way when your posts are open to interpretation.
An already classic example is “The Dress” debate of last summer. It started with a simple photo of a dress, whom some people saw as white and gold, and others as blue and copper. White & Gold supporters were pitched in a virtual battle against Blue & Copper supporters, making that photo go viral on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
2. Post Your Take on Current Events
Many events can be tied in with your own business or products. For example, a wave of cold weather expected to sweep your local area is an excellent opportunity to promote your warm clothes and footwear, your brand new range of teas or to-go hot soups.
Since Facebook introduced hashtags, it is easier than ever to search for trending events, keywords and include the respective hashtag in your posts to make them easier to be found. Just be careful to get a clear understanding of the event behind the hashtag – because you do not want to make the mistake of a major clothing company which used a hurricane name hashtag to promote one of their collections…
3. Launch a Challenge
Oh, the pitting of minds one against the other to come up with a clever response to a tricky question! This is the stuff viral posts are made of. Starting with the simple “Caption this photo”, you can think of various ways to provoke your followers to show off their humour, wit, intelligence and other skills – and it is even better if you offer a prize for the best answer.
Another popular type of Facebook challenge imitates the style of hidden object games: you post a photo with many similar items and ask people to identify all of them and post the exact number. It is fun, it is challenging, and people will certainly want to challenge their friends to beat their scores if they can.
4. Open up to Your Audience
Tell a moving story about yourself or your business, and give it a funny or emotional twist to inspire other people to become entrepreneurs or be strong in the face of adversities. People love stories – they love to hear about real people going through real life struggles and overcoming them without help from outside.
5. Make It Family Friendly and Safe for Work
This is possibly the most important piece of advice if you want your post to go viral. People care about their reputation. They will think about what their work colleagues and their family will think if they see that post shared on their Timeline. If you use licentious language, or approach sensitive and extremely controversial topics, you will never get your post shared by anyone other than some teenagers who do it for a dare. But it will never reach the actual audience you wish to engage.