Virality is something that doctors fear and marketers love. Virality from the marketing point of view is when you wake up one morning and see one of your pieces of content being shared across all networks, trending among hot topics of the day and putting you on the map of the most discussed items of the day. If you want a classic example, just remember the hoopla around The Dress, which was either white and copper or blue and black, and turned the social media into a battlefield for almost a week.
Why Is Virality Important in Marketing?
To say that viral content is the Holy Grail of social media marketing is not an exaggeration. Virality guarantees maximum exposure for the brand at no cost. It expands the potential reach of your message and brand image from a couple of thousands to millions (no exaggeration!). And, at the end of the day, out of this huge influx of unexpected exposure you will get a boost in your number of followers and in your sales.
Not too bad for one piece of content which you never thought would gain such a level of notoriety. However, the bad new is that viral posts don’t just happen. A few of them happen by accident, but behind most of them there is hard work, deep thought and analysis for creating the right content and sharing it at the right moment on the right social media platform.
So…how do you create viral content on the social media? Here are a few hints:
1. Create the Right Kind of Emotion
People react mostly with emotions. They can feel happy, excited, grateful, sad, angry or revolted. The key to virality is eliciting the right kind of emotion. Remember, even negative emotions are successfully used in marketing. When marketers tell people that they have a limited time offer, this phrase creates angst and fear – people are afraid that if they wait too long they may lose the opportunity. Other marketers tell people that their doctor hides from them a simple cure for looking younger – so they get angry and click on the ad to see what this cure might be.
But mostly positive emotions sell: the emotion of desire, lust, awe, excitement – these are the core ingredients of a social media post that can go viral.
2. Make Them Wonder
One way in which you can create social media content with a high likelihood of virality is stating an incomplete and ambiguous fact in the shared headline. People will wonder what you mean, will feel compelled to know more and once they learn the facts (attention, they must be surprising enough to warrant the ambiguity in the title), they will want to share that content with their friends and make them wonder, as well.
3. Stir Up a Conversation
Conversation is at the heart of social engagement. And there are different types of conversations which can make a post go viral: asking a quizzing question will offer you a deluge of answers; stirring up controversy will make people take a stand and share their opinion (more or less vehement); starting a debate will give you the results seen in the case of The Dress melee.
At any rate, you have to get people to talk about your content and share it in order to find out their friends’ position or opinion concerning it.
4. Share Stunning and Inspirational Visuals
A great quote can become amazing if you place it on the background of an image which underlies its meaning. A simple photograph or a video no longer than a few seconds can and will go viral if they are beautiful, improbable, controversial, or elicit a strong emotion.
5. Share Your Content at the Right Moment
Do you think that The Dress would have gone viral if it had been shared around Christmas time or during the elections? Not really, because people are otherwise preoccupied or there is a bigger story that gives your content no chance to compete against it. Viral content is shared in the social media prime time: when everyone is online and there is no big event capturing everyone’s attention.