How to create viral content in 3 simple steps

Viral content represents the holy grail of content creation. Millions of hits. Thousands of links, mentions, shares, votes, likes, retweets, repins, embeds and everything under the world-wide-sun. Simply put, viral content changes lives.

So it might surprise you to know that creating viral content is easier than you think.

In the content management trifecta of awareness, credibility and buyer incentives, viral content is most often used to create awareness. It speaks to the broadest audience possible.

Once you’ve established that your primary objective for a given piece of content is to make it go viral, the strategies are actually pretty simple, manageable by most small businesses and sole entrepreneurs.

Step One: Cater to the lowest common denominator.

Graaagh. Meow.

You’re not trying to answer the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything (it’s 42, if you’re curious). You’re embracing the shotgun approach, trying to blast your content to as many people as possible.

To put it simply, we’re talking about one step up from zombie kittens*.

Making content that’s viral relies on creating broad appeal. Assume that your audience is everyone (literally, everyone), and use that as the guide for your content creation strategy.

*Now that I think about it, a zombie kitten gallery would be a great idea for a veterinarian clinic, or pet supply store, nudge nudge.

Step Two: Don’t worry about sales.

It’s not about sales, it’s about traffic. And while they’re not mutually exclusive – they are two different objectives. Consider the example of the Judge Judy infographic; created for paralegal.net.

It’s a fair assumption that most people who check out, link to, embed or share the infographic aren’t the target demographic for the services on the paralegal.net website, so from a sales perspective, the campaign probably didn’t bring in a lot of leads. From an awareness perspective, however, the campaign was hugely successful – proving that it depends on how you look at it.

Step Three: Make sharing easy.

Nothing’s worse than an awesome piece of content that’s really difficult to share. Save yourself some time and expense by leveraging third-party platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, Pinterest, Picasa, Tumblr and the myriad other services that have sharing, and often audiences, built in.

Provide people with tools and platforms they’re already familiar with and instructions on how and where they can (and should) share your content. Recognize them when they do, and they’ll share for you again the next time.

Apply the three steps above, focus on the process of creating viral content. You’ll fail, probably a lot, but you only need one success to make a world of difference.

Sean Enns

Sean Enns is a marketing professional who started in marketing and sales in 1997. In 2004, he began his career in search engine optimization and corporate communications.

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