You may have decided to create a blog to reach more people with a debate you care about. Maybe you are a freshly budding Instagram star. Or perhaps you are a professional Social Media Manager with several company accounts which you have to juggle on a daily basis.
Whatever your situation is, the art and science of creating content that is “share-able” and has viral potential is equally an essential tool. But how can you learn to use it to its fullest?
Watching the trends for hot aesthetics is important, especially if you focus heavily on images and video content. Understanding Google Analytics and the current standards of search engine optimisation (SEO) is crucial for the success of your blog posts and other text-based content.
But there is one thing that trumps all of these factors: the human element. At the end of the day, it is a living person, rather than a computer or a bot, interacting with your content.
Therefore, we have compiled a guide full of strategies and tips for making your social media content amazing and helping it cross that line between popular and viral.
What makes people want to share?
Sharing online content actually happens for the same reason as sharing food or stories in real life. We share because of our relationships with other people.
There are four key reasons that make people click the share button:
- Spreading news about a cause they care about or a brand they like
- Wanting to entertain other people or give them some valuable information
- Sharing relevant content to establish or grow a relationship
- Using the content as a way to define themselves to someone else
How can you use this to boost the success of your social media content?
Simply tailor your stories to these psychological mechanisms. Have them cater to the wants and needs of your target audience.
You should keep your messages simple and urgent, and appeal to people’s basic triggers. These are the desire to help, their want of amusement, a need to connect to people as opposed to brands, and wanting to feel inspired or praised.
Play on people’s desire for approval
You may have noticed that visitors to your social media pages are more generous with their likes and upvotes on those posts that someone has liked before them. This is simple to understand: people feel safer expressing their opinion on something if they know they are not the only ones approving it.
For example, if you know that a friend is happy with a service, you are more likely to give it a try. This is true for everything, from garage repairs, to doctors and selecting prospective employees.
The experts at ResumesCentre explains this phenomenon:
“If you’ve ever heard of the ‘unemployment bias,’ you know that many employers prefer to hire people who have been continuously working. One reason is that they assume someone with a job probably has the current skills needed to pick up a position at a different company.”, they say.
Employing this principle in your online campaign is simple. You just need to let people know that they are not alone in their reactions.
For example, you can display the reaction count next to your sharing buttons. A neat trick is to flash your success on other platforms, e.g. with a banner saying “Thanks for the 150K follows on Twitter!”.
When people see obvious proof of your popularity, they are more likely to peruse your content and share it with their own contacts.
Load your content with emotions
This doesn’t necessarily mean drama-mongering. There are a few key emotional qualities that people look for in viral content:
- Shock (both negative and positive)
To make your audience “feel it”, make a selection of one to three of these and include them in your content.
Use tools like Grammarly, OnlineWritersRating or Copyscape to ensure your content is error-free and unique. Lacking in these two key areas will make your share rates plummet – people hate incomprehensible stories.
You may rely on services to help you find the best writers in your local area or otherwise, who will help you actually phrase your stories in the most relatable words.
Everybody likes you when you bring the good news!
You will often hear these days that social media is brimming with negativity. Turn that around! People always crave good stories to balance out the bad.
In fact, a study by Jonah Berger found that positive news had a much higher likelihood of going viral. The trick to achieving it is to post content that invokes strong positive emotions: make your audience happy, amused, inspired, amazed.
Make them laugh. Make them curious by using tantalising headlines, for example “This Man Found a Surprise Inside His Walls Left by Former House Owners” or “20 Most Empowering Quotes in 2018”.
Here are some topics that your audience will typically enjoy finding in the “good news section”:
- Successful rescue missions after weather catastrophes
- “Self-made person” success stories
- Body-positive and race-positive social campaigns
- Successful eco activism
- Stories about helping the undereducated, homeless, etc.
- Shutting down scammers and trolls
- Empowering under-represented groups
Great global or social changes are not the only content that will appeal to your audience, though. Sometimes, people want to enjoy a break from world affairs and will prefer to read a personal life story with a positive outlook and a happy result.
For example, you could brighten your feed with a story of a local young person who travelled abroad and came back with new cultural understanding or a brilliant entrepreneurship idea. The notion of travelling and having adventures draws readers’ attention like a magnet.
“I’m a big fan of traveling, and I think traveling around the world is the single best activity that exposes you to new cultures, broadens your mind, moves you out of your comfort zone, allows you to meet new people, and experience the wonders of the world.” – says James Daily, a blogger at Brainished.
This idea of enchantment makes travel-related content a selling point in your social media strategies. You can also apply this approach to other subjects that you see are trending at any given time, and by using hashtags etc you’ll help make your posts stand out.
In conclusion, there are a fair few ways to create social media content that is engaging enough to go viral. Tracking analytics and researching trends will give you a good picture of what your audience wants to see.
Painting that picture is a lot easier when you factor in people’s emotions, their need for peer approval, and the universal craving for good news. Follow these simple outlines and get creative with how you apply them, and your online presence is sure to steal the spotlight!
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