Tips On Creating Viral Content

September 12, 2014

How To Make Content Go Viral

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What’s This?

Since one of the most powerful ways to expand your company’s reach and generate trust and credibility in your business is by including well-written, quality information on your website or blog, many writers strive to produce content they hope will go viral.

So it’s interesting to note that Brian Carter, co-creator of the ebook “CONTAGIOUS CONTENT – What People Share On Facebook and Why They Share It,” says it’s become cliché to call marketing campaigns “viral” when they aren’t.

Carter is also the author of “The Like Economy” and “LinkedIn for Business” and coauthor of the bestselling “Facebook Marketing.” He has 13 years experience with Google, Twitter and Facebook marketing, both as a consultant and marketing agency director.

Carter explains that getting a few shares, or maybe even twenty shares, does not make your post truly viral. And because EdgeRank — an algorithm developed by Facebook to govern what is displayed and how high on the News Feed — diminishes every post’s visibility by 70-97%, Carter prefers to focus instead on “the shareability of individual posts.”

Functions of Highly Shared Posts

7 Functions of Highly Shared Posts

In addition to 31,000 data points from 67 Facebook pages, in Carter’s book they also reviewed 30 days’ worth of posts from many other pages to find the most shared posts from each. Both of these surveys combined resulted in this tip list.

Highly shareable posts do at least one of the following:

1. GIVE: Offers, discounts, deals or contests that everyone can benefit from, not just one sub-group of your friends.

2. ADVISE: Tips, especially about problems that everyone encounters; for example, how to get a job or how to beat the flu.

3. WARN: Warnings about dangers that could affect anyone.

4. AMUSE: Funny pictures and quotes, as long as they’re not offensive to any group- sometimes the humor isn’t quite as strong or edgy- it has to appeal to a general audience.

5. INSPIRE: Inspirational quotes.

6. AMAZE: Amazing pictures or facts.

7. UNITE: A post that acts as a flag to carry and a way to brag to others about your membership in a group that’s doing pretty darned good, thank you very much.

Once you have created a campaign that is worth sharing, Carter suggests 4 additional ways you can incentivize your audience to share.

How To Incentivize Fans

4 Ways You Can Incentivize Your Audience to Share

1. Refer-a-Friend: This campaign is centered around a compelling offer. Create special offers for both “referrers” and “referees”. If you are using a platform that enables you to collect social sharing data, you can gather metrics such as your biggest influencers on social.

2. Social Sweepstakes: Create a contest and get your entrants to spread the word on your behalf. Social sweepstakes tend to really get a lot of shares since people want to be recognized for their contributions. Check out a recent contest that Marketo created asking Facebook fans to submit photobombs.

3. Polls and Voting: Everyone has an opinion and they are usually more than happy to share it with you. Creating Facebook posts that engage your audience and compels them to share their opinions is a great way to ask for the share.

4. Flash Deals: Create a fun visual way to represent a flash deal, or use a social sharing application that has the functionality to create a time-sensitive deal. Putting a time limit on your offer will really amp up your shares.

4 Mistakes That Prevent People from Sharing Your Posts

Carter insists some of the things we do that get in the way of shareability happen in the conception of posts. Some happen in the execution.

These are the biggest no-no’s if you want your post to get shared:

1. Talking about yourself

2. Being to edgy or offensive

3. Being too obscure or niche

4. Asking for likes

Post that are most liked but barely shared

Highly Liked But Barely-Shared Posts

One of the first hypotheses Carter and his co-creator developed was that there are many posts that are highly-liked but barely-shared.

“We suspect people view a ‘Like’ on a post as something that happens between an individual and the person or page that posted it. This liking also bonds us with other likers of that thing. Since we’re not always sure who will see that we liked something, we consider whether it would look bad to others that we liked it.”

Carter suggests we may never click “like” on a controversial post, but when we click Share, we’re obviously saying, “I like this so much I wish I had created it myself. I want everyone I’ve connected with on Facebook to see it. I’m ok with my family, coworkers, supervisors, bosses, and anybody else I’ve friended, knowing that I like it.”

How Often Do People Share?

One-third of the posts Carter reviewed did not get shared at all. Carter claims it’s easy to get a couple of people who work for a brand or who work for the brand’s agency to share posts, but it’s harder to get more than five or ten people to share a post.

“How many posts had more than 5 shares? Only about half of them. Only 20% of posts were shared more than 50 times. But these numbers aren’t as meaningful as percentages, because what if you have a million fans? How many shares are significant?”

According to Carter, only one out of every 200 post viewers who saw a post shared it. Only about 20% of posts were shared by a higher proportion of viewers than that.

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