A decade ago, viral content on the internet meant that a piece of content had garnered engagements in millions within a week. But now, social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, have over one billion users. Facebook (Meta) and Youtube have over 2.9 billion and 2.5 billion monthly active users, respectively. In this social media landscape with such a massive audience online, it has become significantly easy to reach that million engagement rate milestone, and it does not necessarily mean the content has gone viral. So what does going viral in 2023 look like, and how to go viral online? This article gives you an overview of viral content and provides a step-by-step guide on how to go viral.
When Can We Say That Something Has Gone Viral?
Engagement metrics refer to likes, shares, comments, impressions, and mentions. Though some consider reaching a million in engagement a sign that the content has gone viral, that is not necessarily true. Consider this: on Instagram, Cristiano Ronaldo has over 523 million followers, Lionel Messi 418 million followers, and Kylie Jenner 377 million followers and counting. For users with such a massive online following, crossing a million likes and impressions is an everyday occurrence.
If we look at going viral from a regular content creator’s perspective, a post or reel goes viral when it spreads widely on social media and gets massive engagements in a very short period of time. For instance, the cosmetics company e.l.f. (which stands for eyes, lips, face) has seen significant growth in sales in the last few years due to its marketing campaigns. One of their TikTok campaigns, #eyeslipsface, became one of the most viral campaigns of all time, with over 9.8 billion views. The brand created a song, especially for the campaign, and encouraged TikTokers to post makeup videos with the song using the hashtag #eyeslipsface. The campaign became an overnight hit and was the first-ever ad to hold the #1 trending spot on TikTok. The viral campaign later organically spread to other social media platforms and was also joined by celebrities such as Reese Witherspoon, Lizzo, and Ellen with no sponsorship.
Credit: #eyeslipsface | TikTok
What are the Salient Traits of Viral Content?
Before we look at how to go viral, here are some traits of viral content:
One of the key characteristics of viral content is relatability. When people find content that makes them feel seen and understood, they are more likely to engage with it and share it with others.
Creating helpful and relevant content can increase your chances of going viral. Life hacks, recipes, and ‘how-to’ content typically get traction on social media as they are easy to understand and educational too.
People have a short attention span online. Content that is hard to read and understand is most likely to be scrolled past. On the other hand, content that is easy to skim on mobile devices has a high chance of going viral.
Viral content is shared and reposted organically. When content is shared by a large number of people or by popular accounts, it creates massive impressions and engagement online.
5. Strikes an Emotional Chord
Viral content appeals to people’s emotions and forges an emotional bond with them. Content that resonates with people and triggers an instant emotional reaction is most likely to get high engagement.
How Do You Make a Post Go Viral
Step 1: Optimize it for the Platform With the Right Keywords
The first step on how to create viral content is ‘keyword optimization’. If you want your content to reach a large audience, make sure it is easily discovered online. Before you create content, do extensive keyword research, analyze competitors, and identify trending topics.
PRO Tip: Pick keywords that have high search and low competition, as they are easiest to rank for.
Step 2: Make it Visual
Short video content catches people’s attention and increases social engagement. Also, consider adding visually appealing graphics to your content mix.
Step 3: Make it Easily Shareable
Make sure the content you are creating is easily shareable. Sharing means that a piece of content has high organic impressions and ensures that your content is circulated to a diverse audience. So if you are creating content such as a blog post, it should have the option for sharing on various social media platforms.
Step 4: Open Commenting and Engage with the Audience
Encourage interaction and engage with people in comments. A high interaction rate allows you to create a loyal community online and also indicates to the algorithms that the content is valuable to the users. This can boost your impressions exponentially.
Step 5: Use Lists for Distribution
Listicles are a great way to increase organic impressions online. They outline what the reader wants to learn and are easy to read and skim. Additionally, this type of content is search engine friendly, resulting in substantial traffic, and can also be lead magnets.
Step 6: Keep the Messaging on Point
Messaging communicates to the audience what you or your business do, why you are unique, and how your content creates value for them. Focus on creating clear, consistent, and concise messages for your brand. Aligning your messaging with your content can allow your content to stand out, thereby boosting engagement.
Step 7: Tap Into Trends
Following trends is perhaps the easiest way to go viral, as people are already engaging with the trend. Content creators should always keep an eye on trends and understand how to leverage them to drive high engagement in their content. Meme marketing or moment marketing is a great example of this. Netflix does this very efficiently by using memes that are going viral as means to promote their shows.
Step 8: Trigger an Emotional Reaction
Consider this: In a campaign, perception of perfection, female graphic designers from 18 countries were asked to Photoshop a picture of a woman to make her body shape ideal for their country’s beauty standards. The campaign highlighted the unrealistic beauty expectations of people and triggered a massive emotional reaction, making the campaign go viral. The campaign garnered over 900,000 social shares and was featured on 600 websites. Emotional reaction is a huge factor in going viral on the internet. Content marketers, therefore, must create content that resonates with people on a human level.
Step 9: Collaborate with the Right Influencers
Influencer marketing is an excellent way to go viral online. Collaborate with influencers that can enhance your engagement and promote your content online. For example: Dunkin’ Donuts partnered with the TikTok influencer Charli D’Amelio to promote the brand. The influencer frequently posted videos of her eating donuts and drinking her signature drink, The Charli. The partnership with the influencer resulted in a substantial surge in sales and a 57% increase in the company’s daily app downloads.
Step 10: Read Your Audience Well
Understanding your audience and creating the content they want to see is crucial for making your content go viral. While boosting engagement through trends and influencers helps reach a large audience, building a community that consistently engages with your content can allow you or your brand to achieve goals and grow over time.
How to Leverage Viral Content
Now that you know how to go viral online, use the above steps to create engaging, relatable, and visual content. But do remember, going viral is just the start; you need to follow it up with relevant content consistently to keep your audience engaged. Your goal, as a content creator or brand, should be to create value for the audience so that they continue to engage with you.
Learn More with Emeritus
We hope this guide on how to go viral helps you create highly engaging content for your business. Remember, going viral is just one step to growing engagement. If you want to grow your brand or create effective content, learn how to develop successful digital marketing strategies with Emeritus’ digital marketing courses.
By Krati Joshi
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