Kitty Harris
Monday, June 7, 2021
4 min read

5 ways to get your content to go viral

Going viral is the dream of many a content marketer. Having your company's content shared across thousands of platforms all over the world means that your website is valued by readers and reaches a wider pool of people. But what triggers this reaction for some posts and not for others? How can you predict and create posts that will have that contagious factor? Well, although there is some content that goes viral for reasons known only to those that share it, there are some actionable similarities when you compare content across the board.
1. Trigger an emotional response

The stand-out feature of every viral post is its ability to make the reader feel something. Whether that’s amusement, sadness, or anger, it doesn’t matter as long as the emotion has some weight to it. Evoking a strong response in people will ensure they want their friends to know about it and hence the sharing begins. The feeling of nostalgia is particularly evocative, hence why those ‘only 90s kids will remember’ posts are internet mainstays

2. List it

Listed content is some of the most shared on the web. Bite-sized, easy-to-digest, list-format posts are the king of viral content. It is simply a combination of an engaging headline and the infamous list, meaning you can click, read and absorb it quickly. But be wary! This may be one of the most popular types of blogs out there but writing one of your own runs the risk of blending in with the crowd. So, make sure when you do go for this content that it is on an intriguing topic and grabs the attention of the reader to the max.

3. Surprise people

Causing a stir on the internet can be as simple as writing content that is surprising. Find an unexpected slant on a subject and come at it from that angle – ‘Studies show that graduates are more likely to eat doughnuts’ provokes a need to click on the article in order to discover how the headline could possibly be true. And once it is discovered to be true (let’s hope those studies stack up) then there is the incentive to share in order to notify the world. Note: Make sure that the surprise is actually surprising and not just clickbait that will disappoint.

Another thing that surprises people? Controversy. Now by this we do not mean go on a non-PC tirade. We suggest pushing against the status quo and challenging people. Take BrighterBox's very own Charlie Johnson as an example, who carried out a poll on trackie bottoms. It's simple, caused a friendly stir, and helped answer the question that was on everyone's mind (seriously or otherwise). Although this post did not make it into the Viral Content Hall of Fame, it allowed Charlie to engage with his network and strike up interesting conversations. See if you can replicate this for yourselves and tweak it to get your shot at going viral!

4. Tell them where they are going wrong

People hate to think that they might be missing out. Capitalise on this fickle human flaw by creating content that focuses on what you could be doing wrong. Let them know that they might be missing out on ‘this one weird trick’ that would allow them to reach success. If you are able to pinpoint an unusual tip that could be valuable to your audience, then you will strike viral gold. 
5. Tap into their competitive nature

Quizzes and IQ tests are shared like wildfire because humans are inherently interested in themselves. We want to know more about how clever we are, what our subconscious thoughts mean, what our favourite colour says about our personality. Humans are also competitive, which is what triggers the sharing on social media – ‘I got a score of 80/100 and I challenge you to beat me.’ Can you gamify any aspect of your offering?

Bonus tip

Focus on the headline. 80% of users never read past the headline of the article, so often that’s the thing that goes viral. Make it snappy, engaging, and intriguing – just don’t underestimate it.


*Editor's note: This blog was originally published in 2016 and has since been updated.



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