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Going viral is the key to content marketing

Content marketing is now the only way to go. Customers want to engage with businesses that are interesting, useful and entertaining. Google loves it too. But for lots of small businesses content marketing can seem a big, expensive and frightening thing to take on.

It needn’t be. Promotions specialist Kelsey Lilbert’s recently blogged on getting started in content marketing and the secrets of going viral.

1 – Know your competition.
In content marketing, your competition is everyone. Anyone who creates content, from newspapers to ordinary Facebook members, is fighting with you for public attention.

2 – Viral is magical
If you provide good, useful content you will find fans. However, it’s slow, for fast results you need to go viral. 

3 – What is going viral? 
The most important factor in going viral, says Lilbert, is getting one viewer to create a large number of new viewers. 

4 – What goes viral?
The real trick is knowing what will go viral. Unfortunately, even an expert like Lilbert says there is no simple answer, but she did look at content that has gone viral to see what has worked in the past. 

A – Emotion works
Emotion is the most important driver of our behaviour. If we feel something we are more likely to do something. You’re also in a race against time then. Viral content gets a strong emotional impact very quickly. That’s why visual material is usually the most viral. 

B – Which emotion?
Now, we are into the realms of psychology, and there’s a lot of heavyweight research behind Lilbert’s theories. Positive emotions are more powerful drivers of sharing than negative ones. High-arousal feelings like anger better than low-arousal emotions like sadness. Lilbert then tested 25 hugely popular images from reddit and tested their emotional impact. 

These images overwhelmingly inspired positive emotions - amusement, interest and surprise were top. Least represented was shame – the ultimate negative, low arousal feeling. 

5 – How to use emotion in your content
The important lessons of Lilbert’s work is that you can enhance the emotional impact of your content by:
Going visual. In the click-and-move-on world of the web, the picture trumps words every time.
Making your content interactive. Anything that demands the viewer take part increases the impact.
Make your content personalized. Lilbert cites the Take This Lollipop site as a perfect example. Their page on Facebook has 12million likes.

Use lists. Technically called emotional stacking, you increase emotional impact with groups of good content. 

6 – Beyond emotions 
Non-emotional factors also help boost the viral chances of your content.
Making the viewer feel they are part of an exclusive group or in on a private joke makes for more shares.
Making the sharer feel like they are doing good, will make them more likely to share.
If content makes people look good to their friends is more likely to be shared. 

7 – Make it fast
The shorter the cycle time the more likely your content is to fly around the world. Here, images win again. Make it easy to share with all the right buttons. 

8 – The catch
You need to be viral, but viral to the right audience. So look at what your audience is sharing already. Find out what they care about, who they admire, what stories they tell and the emotions they are most likely to express. 

9 – Another stage
Finally, Lilbert introduces another new concept – Fractal viral.
This is user-generated or personalised content that goes viral. She uses the example of the It Gets Better campaign, a massively successful anti-bullying site in America which invited users to upload their own stories as videos. 

To get into the fractal area you need to have content that can be adapted by users without losing your original message along the way. You must also be sure that there’s no way your content could become a bad news story for your business. You also need to keep in mind all the rules of viral content creation and enable your audience to follow them. 

Toolkit can help you get started on managing your own content marketing and Search Engine Optimisation as well as providing you with a great looking, usable social media presence. 

We also work with the UK’s top copywriting and SEO companies, with special rates for our clients. Just call Toolkit on 02380 633 644 to find out how we can help your business.

Get in touch with Toolkit Websites, Website Designers in Southampton, Hampshire, UK and see how we can help your business grow.