Going viral – it sounds so simple and effortless. You’re a great writer, you know your social media so the whole thing should just take off and launch into the Twitter stratosphere. It almost is that easy, almost but not quite.
The difference between popular and viral feels very different and while the former is fairly achievable, the latter is something of an art form. All this, of course, begs the question: why would you want to go viral?
For several reasons, the main being quite simply to get noticed. Whether you’re an online business, a YouTuber or a guy who just wants his voice heard, a viral campaign absolutely points to you. There’s nowhere to hide. This naturally makes it an insanely cheap way to advertise your product to a huge audience, in fact, a variety of huge audiences. Statistics point to the fact that in the United States alone, around 70% of people use at least one social media platform. That’s a whopping 2.5 billion people waiting to hear from you and it doesn’t take into account the rest of the world.
by Dove Beauty Sketches as an example of a video that went viral on social media.
So, you need some coverage and you want to know how to make your social media not just popular, viral. While there are no guarantees, there are certainly some steps you can take towards achieving your world domination. Firstly and very simply, know your audience.
Who are you talking to?
You are not talking to everyone. You are targeting one group with your tweet or post and then it’s up to them to spread the word. “The process of identifying exactly who you’re talking to is vital. Without this foundation, your viral plan will crumble. Once you identify who you’re talking to, the next step is to figure out how,” says Phillipa Smith, a content writer at OriginWritings.
For every social media platform, there’s an audience, an audience who prefer visual stories, silly memes, hard-hitting political tweets or just funny cat videos. Figure out what you want to say and how you want to say it, then select the correct platform. Make sure you tailor your message accordingly. Top tip, no cat videos on LinkedIn.
The write stuff
Next on the list is creating content that attracts attention. This isn’t simply a well-worded Tweet or beautifully crafted Insta photo, instead, it’s something that engages the reader and issues a call to action, such as a forward or alike. That’s not just a good idea, it’s good science and is picked up by algorithms that place this kind of content higher up.
“Think about keywords and what kind of post, visually, your audience will be looking for. Keep it simple and concise. This doesn’t mean you have to avoid being clever, more than it needs to be easily understood within seconds of glancing at it. It needs to make its mark quickly and effectively,” says social media manager Chris Attons from 1Day2Write and WriteMyX.
Timing is everything
Depending on which country and which age group your target readers are in you’ll want to send out your viral message at the right time. Do the research, find out which demographic uses Instagram at peak times of the day and send accordingly. See what else is trending and figure out if there’s a way of piggybacking on this success. Getting the right hashtag is an easy win if it ties in with a trend that’s already peaking.
Last, but not least don’t let your viral post shine like a dying star. One viral tweet, though immensely satisfying will not do much more than give you your 15 minutes of fame. If you’re using viral messaging as a way of selling your wares to take the opportunity to ask your audience to act and engage with you. How will you ask them to start a relationship with your brand and keep coming back for more?
To sum up
Creating engaging viral content is an art and a science. It might not be easy but it is possible and the more research you put into the audience and tone, the more likely you are to succeed. Putting in the hours is well worth the potential benefits your viral campaign could draw in and will set you on the path to social media success now and into the future.
Martha Jameson is a content editor and proofreader. Before she chose writing at Academic Brits as her calling, she was a web designer and a manager. Martha’s main goals are to share her experience, motivation, and knowledge with her readers.