3 Fail-Proof Rules for Creating a Viral Post

creating-a-viral-post

If you want to be successful on the web, you need an audience. This is true whether you are a designer, writer, developer or a freelancer in any other field. Without an audience, success is hard to come by.

Most freelancers maintain a blog that they use for promotional purposes. A writer writes articles consistently to showcase his/her writing skills, a designer showcases his designs, and so on and so forth.

In this article, we will explore three practical ways that you can create content and titles that are bound to take off. If you can make your blog more popular, more freelance work is right around the corner. Let’s begin.

Start With the Title

For an article to go viral and be talk of the web, it takes much more than good copy. However, if we follow the rule content alone is king, it will be hard to make a post go viral.

Writing a viral post takes a good title. A good title pulls the audience in.

The content has to be solid, no doubt about that. However, the title is definitely the bait to get the readers curious enough to read your post.

Without a good title your post probably won’t get read.

Rule #1. Disagree On a Hot Current Topic

Do you know what people love to do the most?

They love to disagree. If you can write an article that is the center of discussion at any given time and swing it in a different direction, I can guarantee people will flock to read your opinion.

Remember, although you should write for your audience, your blog is your home. We are all entitled to our opinion. Don’t hold yourself back.

For example, if Twitter rolls out a new feature and everyone is going gaga about it, find a way how that feature can be devastating for Twitter or Twitter users and share your opinion.

Of course, you should be prepared to get some backlash, but that’s what surviving on the web takes.

Remember that you are talking about something that is already a hot topic. If many people are looking at one side of a topic, analyze and find the other side of it, good or bad, and explore it.

Be sure to provide reasonable opinion. Pointless blabber won’t help you go viral. But, a strong opinion with enough evidence to back it up will certainly help you draw a large crowd and many will come back for more. This is one rule that seems to work every time. Below are a few titles (examples) that will give you an idea.

  • 5 Reasons Twitter Lists Will Cause Spammers to Explode.
    If everyone is talking about how great the new feature is find the downside of Twitter Lists and bring it to everyone’s attention. Make sure your title is catchy!
  • Facebook Hits Over 300 Million Users, 200 Million Are Spammers.
    When Facebook hit the “over 300 million user” mark, everyone was talking how awesome the platform is. Give the topic a different angle and write about why numbers aren’t always the best thing. Express your opinion.

Rule #2. Inject Humor Into Your Piece

Many people are too serious when they write articles. Sometimes the best way to get others to comment and share a story is to make them laugh, or at least smile.

Whether the piece that you want to go viral is an article, a video, or an image, posts that make people laugh are the ones that get shared. Blogs like lolcats.com, and so on, are popular and are always trending.

I am not suggesting that you go totally out of your niche or comfort zone to create a humor piece, but unleash your creative juices and do something that would inject humor into whatever it is that you want to go viral.

For example, this article on a job search site went viral. The key here was to integrate Twitter, one of the hottest social media platforms, and to explore how technology might change job searches in the near future. Above all, there is a conversation going on in the piece that provides the humor element.

Be sure to let the creativity in you out every once in a while and find ways to humor your audience. Laughter is the best medicine and also the best virus. Here are a few more titles (examples) to give you an idea.

  • Hey Web Designers, Why So Serious?
    (Apologies if you are a web designer. This is just an example.) This title would get many people interested. Remember, designers are one of the closest knit groups of freelancers on the web. This piece could be a great humor piece. You could simply talk about why web designers act so seriously. Of course, the question itself creates curiosity. Curiosity and humor are two key ingredients of the recipe for success when it comes to creating buzz on the web. If you have ever watched the movie “The Dark Knight,” I am sure the title will give you one more reason to click.
  • Uhh Ohh, Finally Someone Spilled the Beans on PR Writers!
    Another title that would make me click. You can share how PR (Press Release) writers exploit search engine, and so on, in a funny way. The key is to tie the post to your niche or field and make your audience laugh. (Or, as I said before, at least smile.)

Rule #3. Tell Them It’s a Secret Even If It’s Not

Before you point fingers at me and say “how dare you ask me to lie,” let me make myself clear. Some things may not be a secret to you, but are a secret to someone else.

It’s easy to assume that everyone else knows what we know. Well, we are wrong! There is an information hungry audience out there seeking to learn something new. Information may not be new to you or to your existing audience, but sometimes you need to cater to readers outside of your core group.

Think of something related to your field. If you are a freelance writer, share what inspires you to write. We are all different individuals working in different environment and under different circumstances. Sharing your secret might help someone else relate to it and find a better way to do it.

Don’t hold yourself back thinking “this is not a secret,” because something that is not a secret to you might be the best kept secret for many others. Here are a few titles (examples):

  • My Secret to Scoring Top Paying Clients
    Personalization works wonders. Give some examples and share how you score big clients. The key here is to find something that a group of people would find useful and share it.
  • 10 Secrets Online Marketers Won’t Appreciate Us Telling
    Now don’t tell me you wouldn’t click on that headline if you saw it on Twitter or elsewhere. ;-)

Producing viral content isn’t easy. Following these tips may not give you results right away, but if you follow these examples and keep trying until you perfect what works best in your niche, I guarantee you will see results.

By the way, these three examples are known and tried methods that many viral content marketers use. However, there are a few viral content secrets that I may save for another post with a title such as “5 Viral Content Traps and How to Set Them.”

Share Your Thoughts and Ideas

Give these ideas a try and let us know how it pans out.

What do you do to make sure you draw a large audience to your content?

Share your responses in the comments.

Image by aussiegall

Comments

  1. says

    All your suggestions could work. However, I’m uncomfortable with claiming something is a secret when it’s not. That’s misleading and could easily lead to sensationalism.

    Another “strategy” that makes a blog post go viral is authenticity. Blog posts that are personal and written from the heart tend to go viral. It sounds corny, but that’s what I’ve found from personal experience.

    Lexi

  2. Quint says

    I am thinking about adding a blog to a couple of website I am working on and I have done quite a bit of reading and thinking about what makes a post go viral. It looks to me like many of the viral videos/posts weren’t created with an eye to going viral, but were created with passion from the heart of the creator.

    I think I agree with Lexi above. Be authentic and touch a chord in the lives of others, whether it is through humor or other elements, and then you won’t have to “make” your content go viral, it will be a natural side effect.

  3. says

    Hi Lexi, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate you taking the time to comment and drop in your views. However, the secret part that I wrote about isn’t really meant to be something that is not secret. What I meant was that, sometimes we need to cater to the audience that we don’t already have instead of catering to the ones we already do. For example, if your readers are technology buffs once in a while it’s beneficial to cover beginner tutorials etc. so as to gain new readers and generate awareness about your blog and yourself to others. What may not be a secret to us might very well be a secret to many. May be the wording didn’t come out right on that part of the article. Thanks for pointing it out :)

    Quint, anything done with passion will yield results, may be no right away, but in the long run that’s key to success.

    Rezaul, here is a good post that I found on titles. Hopefully this helps http://www.chrisfrost.tv/10-proven-headline-formulas-for-social-media/ . Also do swing by http://copyblogger.com as they tend to cover a lot on how to write headlines that grab attention. We will soon be dedicating an entire post to titles as well :)

    Chris, Glad you enjoyed the article. Thanks for the link

    Amber, Laughter is the best medicine and when it comes to the web, it seems to be the best virus.

  4. says

    Or maybe, Ritu, I was just speed-reading-not-comprehending again, LOL! Thanks for clarifying. Now that I’ve taken a second look, I see you wrote explicitly that you’re not telling anybody to lie.

    You’re saying we shouldn’t assume that everybody else already knows what we know. Therefore, what we assume to be common sense may actually be a super-secret-ninja-tactic to somebody else.

    Ok, gotcha.

    Lexi

  5. says

    Nice post.

    I actually like adding some humor and sometimes a little drama works too. I also agree with Lexi about being authentic. That makes it more human and we are all trying to build relationships, right?

  6. says

    One of the best factors was not even mentioned. Luck. Some things happen to get lucky and go viral. I’m sure everyone can think of something that went viral that was already floating around somewhere else. Viralability can be groomed to a certain extent, but to really blow up I think there is always an element of luck in there. Funny thing is people with the best luck usually prepare the most so don’t try to bank on luck alone.

  7. says

    My comment is random but I just noticed on your about the author note below this post that you wrote email(at)ritubpant(dot)com

    I’m beginning to see a trend with this, why are people using the format of name (at) domain (dot) com! OMG is this becoming a hype? everyone is picking it up…i’m not a fan, it’s ridiculous! so hard to cut and paste..where did it originate and why do people who use it think it’s cool?

  8. says

    Nice article. I’ve been following your blog for a while via RSS and this one made me click through.

    I find that if you rant people tend to love it.

    However, it can lead to some issues–legal letters are not fun to get after the first one.

    I mean “Wow, someone thinks that I have that much weight that they try to shut me up?

    Then responding in legalese is not so fun.

    Since I run several blogs I’ve noticed not all audiences are the same.

    In growing my targeted audience I use a variety of different strategies and find that on one I do suffer from the secret syndrome–as in not sharing those secrets.

    I’ve been in my career so long that I forget most people might only know a small percentage of what I do and why I keep thinking they know more boggles my mind.

    So, thanks for the tips and the links.

  9. says

    Increasing interest and traffic to a site through a viral is definitely worth the effort it takes to follow these rules. I think that humour like you said is one of the biggest sellers.

  10. says

    Great article but I have a question: often when writing viral content, SEO content gets thrown out. For example, in your post above “10 Secrets Online Marketers won’t Appreciate Us Telling”, while great for viral content would do poorly in terms of SEO because apart from the term “online marketers” there isn’t much to go on for search engines.

    So whats the real scoop for building traffic on your website: SEO content or viral content?

    Hmm, maybe I’ll do a post on this, haha :) Look forward to your response though.

    Salma.

  11. says

    These are all really good tips for a potentially successful viral post. I’ll incorporate each one or at least most with an upcoming post and see how well it does. I think the telling a secret and argument theories are the best.

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