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Making Content Go Viral: The Tips You Need To Know

Here’s something funny about the marketing world. 

Yes, marketers and creators want quality followers. We want our target demographic to follow us and appreciate our content. “As long as my audience appreciates my content, I want nothing more.” We tell ourselves this every day.

But, the next day, a business’ marketing campaign goes viral, and we hope that our content goes viral too.

There is a lot of glamor and fanfare associated with viral content. Most of the time, we get obsessed with the likes, comments, and shares on the content. But, for small businesses, viral content can do so much beyond just engagement. 

Viral content can create high brand awareness for your business, making it instantly recognizable worldwide. 

It can help you build trust and credibility for your brand. After all, if everyone is talking about you, it means that you must be doing something right. Getting this thought into your customers’ minds can translate into brand loyalty for years to come. 

And what’s more, viral content can help you achieve your reach targets without spending a bucket load of money on paid campaigns. In fact, there are many cases of small businesses gaining customers from parts of the world they never even dreamt they could cater to. 

Making content go viral

Sounds like a pretty sweet deal right? Viral content is highly shareable, relatable, and popular content that spreads through different social media channels, creating an acute awareness for the brand. 

So how do you make this happen for your brand? What is this elusive secret that makes content go viral?

Well, we did some digging and apparently it is not just randomness or some secret sauce. There is a science behind viral content with a dash of luck.

In this blog, Kimp brings you a rundown of the science behind making your content viral, what it means to go viral, and how you can create viral content. 

Did you know that the brand behind the famous “What color is this dress” viral photo surpassed their sale targets by 10x in a week after the dress went viral? This is one of many examples of how your business can profit from viral content. 
Source: Wired.com

What Makes Content Go Viral?

Do you remember the Blendtec story? The owner wanted to promote his line of blenders. But blenders don’t exactly offer an obvious way to hook an audience. That is until the founder rigged the game by blending everyday objects like phones, tablets, and golf balls to display the power of his product.

This is probably one of the best examples of a small business setting out to create a viral campaign. And then executing it with an effective strategy.

“The Blendtec story demonstrates one of the key takeaways of viral content. Virality isn’t born, it’s made. And that is good news indeed,”

Jonah Berger, best-selling author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On

Making content go viral: The Key Ingredients 

Motivation to share 

Marketing experts link the motivation to share a piece of content to the social currency of a brand. Social currency refers to how much influence a brand has on social networks and communities (both online and offline). It can be measured by how much a business or brand is shared by consumers. 

Viral content must be shareable. It has to make people think, “Wait! If I share this with the world, it will make me look important!” or “This is awesome! I have to share this with my friends!”

Motivate your followers, customers, and internet users to share your content by creating it thoughtfully. Make it high-quality and highly relevant, and you’ll hand them the incentive to share. 

Add emotion 

Following the emotion train, remember that your content must make people feel something. Recently, the Twitter marketing handle asked its followers to complete the sentence, “Great Content makes people feel _______ “.

Responses varied from happy, sad, excited, seen, heard, and connected. But most marketers agreed that as long as the content makes someone feel, their job is complete. 

Emotional connection is a key piece of the viral content pie. In fact, it is that x factor that makes something go from “pretty great” to “unforgettable”. 

Unless customers feel strongly about your content, they won’t share or talk about it. And your chances of going viral will be slim to none. 

Accessibility 

By making your business, product, and content easily accessible to people, you speed up your chances of going viral immensely. 

When it comes to making your business and product (or service) accessible, consider being as transparent as possible about your growth and development. By building in public you make your customer a part of your process. And you’re more likely to form an unbreakable bond with them as they get to be a part of your journey.

And how do you make your content accessible? You share it often, across different channels so you can reach different segments of your target audience. And you make sure that it’s well-designed and easy to read and understand. Content that’s easy to access and consume has a much higher chance of being shared.

Value 

This may trip you up since you have seen a lot of nonsensical content go viral. But, you are not just any social media user wanting your content to go viral for the sake of followers or attention. Your business needs viral content to attract new customers. Your goals are different.

If you want the result of your content going viral to be paying customers, then the content must impart value. It can be a how-to video designed engagingly or a mind-boggling statistic shown through an infographic. Or even a seemingly insane idea like Blendtec had. However you end up approaching this, offering value is critical.

Stories 

Viral content cannot afford to be bland. It has to connect with people emotionally, make cognitive connections, and evoke a sense of pride by sharing it. That’s why it needs to tell a story.

And that story needs to be clear and concise in order to grab attention, excite an audience, and encourage sharing. 

You might not think of stories when you think of your marketing. But storytelling is an essential part of every one of your marketing campaigns. Down to how you tell the story. For example, powerful storytelling mediums such as videos and images can be much more compelling to consume and share than purely text-based content.  

Making content go viral: Best Practices + Examples 

We have looked at what makes content go viral. But, if it was just assembling these parts and dishing it out, every brand would be doing it. 

Making your content go viral takes a lot of hard work, creative thinking, efficient design, and many other components.

In this section, we discuss some actionable tips for brands with examples from large and small brands so that you can see how it works. These tips and examples will not only help you produce viral content but also pave a path where your viral content keeps reaping rewards for your business for years to come.

1) Research, Research, and more Research

The hallmarks of viral content are relatability, emotional connection, and shareability. If you want to tick off all these boxes, you must know your customer, competition, and product in depth.

Chances are this doesn’t come as a surprise. You’ve already seen the power of research in action: Your ad copy and design look effortless because it has a copious amount of research behind it. And yet research is probably one of the unsung heroes of making content go viral. 

Put another way, you cannot build viral content in one day. It comes from years spent trying to build an audience, hone your craft, perfect your products, and experimentation.

Here’s how research helps you:
  1. Relatability – Customers will relate to your brand and messaging if you serve them something that resonates with them. Doing this without understanding their shopping habits, needs, daily life, and current trends is not possible. If you know what they connect with, then you can deliver precisely that.
  2. Shareability – To make shareable content, you need to know: 
    • Who your target audience is – are they college students, working professionals, or an older demographic, for instance?
    • Where they spend their time – The choice of platform can make or break the content you produce. Your choice of the social media platforms you focus on should be based on where your target audience spends the most time. This also determines the nature of the content you create. For example, the content you create for Instagram would have a different tone than the ones you design for Twitter. 
  3. Emotional connection – You want customers to feel something when they see and consume your content. Digging into design and marketing principles, color psychology, brand perception, and other viral trends can help you create this connection. 

Kimp Tip: Design plays a vital role in controlling first impressions and brand perception. Connect with a designer who knows how to evoke emotions through design for faster and further reach for your content.

The Heineken #OpenYourWorld campaign seen above has all the right pieces in play. It is relatable, evokes positivity and happiness, and it is a video – a very shareable format.

2) Know What’s Hot 

Brands hopping on current trends to get attention is not new. It can work, but you need a marketing team that does more than trend hopping. You must have plans and processes in place to be able to assess whether a trend is one that’s relevant to your brand. And then to create content that stays true to your brand’s needs and goals. 

It takes a bit of preparation. But boy is it ever worth it. Political events, business trends, pop culture trends, and other talked-off events create opportunities to garner attention from the buzz created by someone else. 

For example, Oreo’s “You can dunk in the dark” campaign profited off the massive power outage in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome during the 2013 Super Bowl. They tweeted this topical creative during the half-time:

Source: Oreo

Remember the viral dress image we spoke about earlier? Dunkin Donuts also hopped on the “blue/gold dress” trend in 2015 to grab some eyeballs from that trend. 

Kimp Tip: Popular trends are fairly visual. So if you are planning to use an existing trend to create viral content, keep the color scheme and imagery intact. Incorporate your branding into it for brand awareness, but stick to the overall theme for best results. 

We all have opinions on what types of content go viral: a soundless social video, a data-backed explainer, a perfectly timed newsjack. But no matter the format, it ultimately comes down to emotion. Does the story make you feel enraged, inspired, understood? With everything you create you have to ask: If this scrolled by on my newsfeed, would I care? If the answer is no, it’s not worth it. Your online content habits are your own best judge.

— Megan Conley, Content Marketing Strategist at HubSpot
3) The power of Visual Marketing 

Our brains react faster towards visual content than text-based content. So, books become movies and outsell the original work. And content with images and video has a wider reach across platforms. In fact, YouTube, Snapchat, and Instagram are some of the most highly used social media sites

So, if you want a path that will lead you to virality and internet fame, it involves visual marketing at least 80% of the way.

Using visual marketing to create viral content gets you:
  1. Engaging content that attracts the user with a stellar first impression.
  2. Branded content so that when you go viral, the content does not get stolen and your brand can cash in on the fame. 
  3. Professional designs to represent your brand well on a bigger stage. 
Best Practices to leverage the power of visual marketing: 
  1. Ensure that the design represents your brand well and is in line with your brand style guide.
  2. Employ the techniques of color psychology to evoke the emotions you want customers to feel. 
  3. Create shareable content such as videos, animations, GIFs, and gamified content. 
  4. Design a unique and intriguing thumbnail for your videos to ensure customers click on it immediately. 
  5. Keep it simple: customers must comprehend your message quickly. Choose simplistic animations and video transitions instead of complicated designs. 
  6. If it is a video, ensure it works well without audio too. Most platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter mute the sound on videos by default. Don’t rely on audio to get views, instead focus on the visuals. 
  7. Add CTAs to guide the customer to the next step. 

Kimp Tip: Choose a design team that can create content and repurpose it for different platforms. If you genuinely want the content to go viral, go hard on every platform that your audience is actively using. And get your design team to deliver designs resized and optimized for each. This will guarantee that it’s easier to access and share.  

With Kimp, you get content tailored to different platforms, unlimited revisions and iterations, AND source files for a flat monthly fee. 

Not sure if a subscription is right for you? Sign up for a free trial to test Kimp Graphics, Kimp Video, or Kimp Graphics+Video out for yourself!

The Dollar Shave Club ad above is simple but effective. Everything in this image, right from the product placement to the color composition, is well thought out. Just take a look at how they’ve used color psychology. Orange works well to attract attention and evoke emotions such as warmth, excitement, and enthusiasm. All in all, the power of visual marketing is on display in this design.

And you’ll see more of the same in their video ads too!

4) Time it well

Has it ever happened to you that you had the best designed, well-written content published, but no one took notice? But when you shared a meme, people went mad over it? 

The seeming randomness can drive anyone crazy. But, in reality there is more that’s going on than meets the eye. There are far more factors in play in content marketing and virality of content than design and copy alone. 

One of the most important factors is timing. Big campaigns have tanked because they were posted at the wrong time. 

The “right time” can vary widely. Most influencers and brands have a set schedule based on their analytics and only post during that window. 

And brands like Buzzfeed take another approach altogether. Buzzfeed ensures that they post engaging and click-bait content in what they call the “bored time”. People get bored in lines and bored at home, they say, so that’s when they hit publish. 

The formula and schedule will likely vary for your business, but some things are pretty universal. Posting on weekends and during peak work hours will kill your content’s reach, no matter how good it is. 

Kimp Tip: If you’ve got an especially good piece of content you’ll be posting, build up some anticipation. Announce the time on your social media handles. Create innovative graphics to provide a sneak peek so that no one misses out. And use a consistent hashtag for all of the posts promoting the content you’re trying to promote.

5. Keep Social Currency in Mind 

We spoke about social currency in the breakdown of viral content. In order to get customers to feel strongly about your brand and the content you share, you need more clout. And how do you get this? You make followers and customers happy to associate with your brand, share your content without prompting and overall act as a helpful, encouraging presence.

More specifically, you can build social currency for your brand by:
  1. Consistently producing quality content 
  2. Sharing your values and ethos openly at every opportunity
  3. Effectively positioning yourself in the market 
  4. Creating brand awareness so that customers feel their association is with a trustworthy brand with a heavy market presence 

Kimp Tip: Show that you care about your customers by reposting user-generated content and being happy to associate with them publicly. When the time is right, they will return the gesture.

Apple’s #shotonIphonecampaign is the best example of using social currency to create viral content. Apple shares customer content online and instantly builds loyalty among its user base. 

Trust Kimp to make you Go Viral

Smart Work + Market Understanding + Visual Marketing = A Path to Viral Content 

At Kimp we work with brands and businesses of all sizes, around the world. And no matter whether they’re preparing to launch or trying to scale, they’re all looking for ways to create shareable content. And that’s where we come in. We understand what going viral means to a business. And can deliver graphics that will help you amp up your brand awareness, and connect with your audience, wherever they might be. 

This includes giving you the means to A/B test your heart out. Our flat fee design subscriptions allow you to test out different creatives to see which your audience responds to best. Ready to build up your brand and make your content much more shareable? 

Sign up for the free trial today.