Creating Social Content That’s Ready For Its Viral Moment

The phrase “15 minutes of fame” is so popular that it has its own Wikipedia page. Yep. That exists.

The dream of a content creator (or a social media manager) is to have their content go viral (or, heck, their whole account). “If you build it, they will come” is mostly fantasy in a world of white noise these days — but just like the true existence of narwhals, the “unicorns of the sea,” there’s always a possibility.

With that said, how do people accomplish viral infamy in a market where everyone is pushing for attention? How are new brands or new brand accounts supposed to make a valuable splash in the social pond?

Unlike monetary promotion to your social posts, where views are guaranteed, there’s no way to ensure organic content will attract attention. Virality is as rare as winning big in Vegas. Does it happen? Yes. Is it a bit convoluted? Yes. Some people know how to play the game (Ryan Reynolds, we’re looking at you), and some people hit the jackpot with all the right elements, at the right time, with a fluke in the algorithm of a FYP (“For You Page’). And for all the thrill and success of your social content hitting it big, the excitement is often short lived.

Experts in the field of digital strategy understand the causes for social wildfire response. It’s simple: Spark emotion. Pay attention to the view (the content) and the viewers (the feeling). It’s the relationship between those two concepts that help support virality, along with simple recognition, sometimes nostalgia, and the need to personally align with the view/viewer dynamic and support. And don’t overcomplicate that beautiful relationship.

It seems simple enough, and yet it’s not. Launching a viral campaign needs a receptive audience, perfect timing (almost kismet), a strong hook, and (of course) great content.

Know Thy Audience

Different demographics have their own needs and interests. Audiences can be divided into categories based on age, gender, hobbies, and so forth. It’s important to know which demographic you’re targeting and what kinds of content they’re most likely to passively ingest.

A great way to connect with that demographic is by building an experience. What is the full 360 experience of a person visiting or viewing your channel, and your brand’s purpose for having the channel? Think about tone, targets, vibe, aesthetics, personality, and community purpose. (What is the individual drive to care or be interested in this page? Think about the customer’s id and ego). Be real with yourself about how your brand or your account fits in the platform. What three adjectives will your followers, community, or audience attribute to your content and account when they walk away? Make sure you appeal to your people.

It’s much, much harder to make content go viral without followers. The more time spent building and engaging with an audience, the more likely they are to share content.

Timing Is Everything

Working in social media means that trends can rise and fall in a matter of days. It’s impossible to say what’s going to have staying power. That means that the second a topic begins to trend, there’s a countdown to when it has overstayed its welcome.

The online space is highly competitive, so while it’s important to understand context before jumping on a bandwagon, marketers should take care that their opportunity doesn’t roll away in the meantime.

Hook ‘Em In

Regardless of what kind of content is being created, finding a good hook is essential to getting (and keeping) the audience invested. There’s a reason, after all, that clickbait titles are so effective at generating views. Regardless of public opinion, teasing the audience with the promise of interesting content is an effective strategy to help generate initial interest.

Types of hooks vary by content format: A YouTuber may hook in viewers with a flashy thumbnail; an article may entice readers with a provocative title promising the audience something interesting or driving an emotional response. The only real rule to creating a hook is that it has to deliver. If you tell the audience your blog will make them cry, it had better drive that emotional reaction. A hook is nothing without substantive content to back it up. Without that, your audience may disappear.

Content Is King

Making great material is the trickiest and most important part of online marketing. Whether the goal is to create videos, images, memes, or just punchy responses, a marketer’s content has to deliver. To do so, there are a few quick rules to keep in mind.

  • Mix media to keep the audience interested. Embedding links, relevant images, and videos into articles, for example, can help readers stay engaged. Even simple techniques like banners, headlines, and bolded subheadings can break up information to make it more scannable and easily digestible.
  • Include ways for the audience to engage directly with content. The more personalized content is, the more the audience will want to be a part of the conversation. This is especially true for content that’s geared toward their passions.
  • Cut the fat. Marketers have been creating punchy content for generations. Just as slogans are short and concise, people want their social media to be the same. That’s why viral hits are often short and quippy. Just realize that expected norms will vary based on platform and the content you’re developing. A social post, YouTube video, and blog article will all have wildly different viewer expectations. Know what those expectations are.

In the ongoing quest for viral recognition, perhaps the best thing you can do is to trust the experts. There’s no exact recipe for creating viral content. There are, however, methods and strategies that can help build community and produce consistent, quality material, which are always the best place to start.

If you’d like to learn more about how ModSquad social media management can help grow your audience, give us a call.

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