The social media scene is being deluged with so-called “viral” posts, which spread so far and wide in social media platforms that they are now being considered as good vehicles for online marketing campaigns.
What is a viral social post? Simply put, it is the online equivalent of word-of-mouth marketing. Viral media content can come in many forms – a blog post, infographic, a Vine video – but created in such a way that those who chanced upon the content will not only be persuaded to check its entirety but also be will be compelled to share it with others.
How does viral content help promote your business? Going viral is a fast and cost-effective way of promoting your brand. It is also one of the most current steps in maintaining a positive online presence. A viral video or story will leave a big impact on your target audience, which in turn strengthens brand or business recall.
So what makes a social media post go viral? It’s challenging to define what makes a post spread like wildfire since there are specific yet complex indication for one. However, there are general elements that you can take into account when attempting to create highly shareable social media content.
Appeal to the emotions.
A good social media post evoke emotions for its viewer. Whether it be an animated short, a video clip, or a status read, social media posts often go viral because it arouses different emotions in the viewer. This is the basis why some of the more popular social media sites like Facebook branched out their Like and Share buttons, integrating emoticons as new features. This way, viewers and readers can easily put in what they feel at the moment when sharing content.
Some of the more common content that daily make their rounds in social media are inspirational quotes, stories, and video shorts. Being inspired while reading or viewing social media content has a different, yet positive, impact for people.
Go for simple yet meaningful messages.
Messages should be short enough that it can get the attention right at first glance but meaningful enough to leave a strong impression to the reader or viewer. How you present content also depends on what type of post it will be. For example, if it is a how-to tutorial, make the steps simple enough that beginners can get started as easily as advanced-level viewers.
Content should be relevant.
Make social media posts relevant by creating them “in the vernacular.” Tailoring words to suit the audience, selecting the appropriate images, and sharing content through the appropriate medium make people relate to the post, which in turn coerce them into sharing it to others.
Know your audience and their issues.
Most viral social media posts cater to specific audience. For example, when Dove created its “Real Beauty Sketches” campaign, it targeted women and a real-world issue which is body image perception. In the ad, a forensic artist who worked with the FBI draws forensic sketches of everyday, real women based on their own description. After which, the same artist draws the same women based on the descriptions of complete strangers. By making the campaign relevant to women and sticking to a current issue, the ad quickly gained a foothold in social media.
Be proactive in suggesting shared content.
While having hashtags or promoting your brand indirectly also works, a proactive approach in sharing content can also be a factor for viral posts. One way of making sure that people share your content is incentivizing every share and like. Some big-name companies like Grab and Airbnb continue to use this approach, giving people incentives like sweepstakes rewards or bonus points for sharing their content.
Ride on trends.
Facebook and Twitter have long used hashtags, and their proper use can make your content be on the trending list. Posts which are relevant to current events, give positive impact, and use the right kind of hashtags often stay on top of notification feeds and are regularly shared by people.
Make posts safe for everyone.
Social media posts can often be traced back to those who have already shared it. Meanwhile, social media users care about their online reputation, and most readers check out content thoroughly before sharing them. NSFW content and those that looks to be hack posts are often left unshared, particularly since improvements on the Timeline and notification feeds on some social media websites already make it possible to check details on shared content available at first glance.
Engage your audience.
Some of the more recent viral content were not only shared by audience but also went viral because of audience participation and reaction. For instance, one viral post is “The Dress,” where an image of a dress has been posted online, sparking a debate on what is the dress’ color combination. It gained interest in social media and ignited the Team White and Gold against Team Blue and Copper.
Concentrate on a platform.
The way social media websites are set up recently, you can quickly post on one and have it go viral on another. This way, you can easily concentrate on a single platform. For example, if you just want to connect with people via short messages and daily reminders, consistent posts on Twitter may do it. Meanwhile, your account can be linked to other social media websites, so every tweet can be easily shared on Facebook or LinkedIn.
Post at the right schedules.
Different social media platforms have different peak hours, and familiarizing with their schedules optimizes content sharing. Some target audiences like workers and employees generally glance at their social media feeds towards the beginning or ending of their work days. Meanwhile, weekend posts are generally seen on weekend nights, since most people have already planned their activities for the whole day.