Sometime around the other week, I chanced upon this meme in one of the blog communities I frequent:
Then a few days later I found out that the photogenic man had inadvertently grown popular online as – wait for it – Ridiculously Photogenic Guy. Not only did he turn into a blog meme, he even got interviewed on a popular talk show, along with the photographer who snapped his picture, Will King. After that, the video clips of his interview like this one quickly circulated the ‘Net, with almost a million views and still counting.
In a matter of days, Ridiculously Photogenic Guy Zeddie Little went ridiculously viral. And it all started from a photo!
Creating viral content can be highly achievable if you know how to reach your audience in the right way at the right time.
In the social context, going viral is the ability for information to be transferred at a rapid rate through a particular culture. That information then becomes a meme. It’s infectious. And thanks to the Internet and mobile technology, the dissemination of such is incredibly easy and effective.
If you’ve noticed, not all concepts that reach mass popularity are profound. In fact, the simplest of ideas are those that make the greatest impact on the audience because they are generally visceral in nature.
So how can you increase your blog content’s virality?
It’s not enough that you advertise your blog on every social networking platform available. If you can’t offer content – specific, well-timed, and well-thought out content — that can make an impact on your audience, then it will be hard to make a dent.
Understanding what your audience wants is critical, as well as the following considerations:
Your content must be able to provide immediate value to your target audience. Again, it doesn’t have to be profound. But it has to be innovative, easy to remember, and it has to be important to your audience.
Providing value to individual audience members is good. But it’s much better if your audience gains extra benefits from sharing your content with others (e.g. funny meme gifs, file and folder sharing).
In the case of images, audio, and video formats, your content has better chances of going viral if it can be easily embedded onto your audience’s respective pages and websites. Your audience can then enjoy a sense of ownership of your content while making it more accessible to others.
You know the ‘via@website’ tag that appears on shared media? It serves as an advertisement for your blog once your audience shares your content.
Aside from finding out what your audience wants, it also helps to tap into their needs. The greater the audience’s need, the better the chances of virality. Examples of this would be bored Internet surfers (who need to be constantly entertained), social networking enthusiasts (who often need to find reasons for keeping in touch with friends), and hobbyists (who are compelled to share and gather information about their pursuits).
The ‘cool’ factor
This is extremely tricky. Predicting the next cool thing out there requires keen instincts, sharp observation skills, and more than a bit of luck. The ultimate goal here is not to ride the trending bandwagon, but to create a new trend.
Producing popular content still calls for an anchor to keep it going around. If your blog offers a venue for your audience to enjoy lively interaction – and it should – make sure that your main material conveys the idea that you mean business. Otherwise, your audience won’t take you seriously in the long run. (Even gag and humor sites are serious about their content, to show that what their visitors want is important to them).
Seeding and sharing
Your content will not share itself, and you’ll never know if it can go viral if you don’t plant it out there first. If you can afford it, you can seed your content, which is paying a social network-savvy group of Internet and mobile users to share your material to targeted communities. Or if you’re on a tight budget, you can simply share your content yourself to an interested audience.
Not all of us will be able to generate viral content, and that’s okay. But it’s certainly worth a shot, because with a basic understanding of what makes people tick coupled with persistence, you just might transform your blog into a blockbuster.
If you’ve already gone viral, how did you do it? Do you have other tips you’d like to share? We would love to hear from you!
Photo credits: http://writelife.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/gossip.jpeg, http://followfanpage.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Fotolia_14998397_Subscription_XXL-200×200.jpg, http://www.webpronews.com/ridiculously-photogenic-guy-is-ridiculously-photogenic-2012-04, http://cdn.ientry.com/sites/webpronews/pictures/photoguy.png (Photo by Will King)