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Business Social Media Marketing – Part Four: Viral Content

If you’ve been following our social media marketing series, you’ve already begun producing your own content. Now how can you make that content go viral?

The elusive ‘viral content’ is synonymous with memes: a term first coined by science guy Richard Dawkins to describe an idea, behavior or style that spreads rapidly from person to person. It might come in many forms – jumping from video, image, and words or real-time activations.

Viral branded content is a marketer’s jackpot. It could be described as the perfect storm: it’s about the right people, the right content, on the right platform and at the right time. So in saying that, there is no fail-safe formula for creating viral content. But there are homogenous characteristics across the board of most viral content.

Top 3 elements of viral content

Viral content produces an emotional response.

Word of mouth happens most at the extremes of emotion. Think about it like this: you have a pleasant experience at a restaurant. Not particularly good, nor bad. You probably don’t want to shout that from the rooftops, do you? Let’s say the meal was the best you ever had (or the worst) – THAT is something you want toring home about. The best content evokes excitable emotions like awe, anxiety or anger because these emotions trigger an action (unlike sadness or neutrality, which is deactivating).

Viral content is positive.

People share content to increase social capital. It is a way of presenting face, and forging social bonds with others over shared interests and opinions.Positive content reflects positively on the sharer. Positive content is most likely to go viral.

Viral content is easily sharable.

It sounds obvious – but for content to go viral it has to be easily sharable. This is achieved practically by adding share buttons and cross-platform posting. The most sharable content types are news pieces (articles and news fuelled blogs, tweets), humor (images, videos, satirical articles) and opinion (reviews, rants). The top 3 site types forcontent sharing are blogs, mainstream news sites and social news sites.

Viral content thrives on word of mouth, which is already cheaper and more trustworthy than traditional advertising. Even if your carefully crafted piece doesn’t go viral – you’ll still get valuable views along the way.

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