Online content has the potential to spread like wildfire through social networks. A story that truly captivates your audience can amplify your reach exponentially when readers eagerly share it within their own networks. But crafting viral content that your audience can’t resist sharing is both an art and a science.
How do you create irresistibly shareable stories that spread like lightning across the internet? In this post, we’ll explore the key strategies for developing news and other content that your readers will eagerly amplify across their social channels again and again. From understanding your target audience intimately to optimizing headlines, incorporating emotions and visuals, and facilitating seamless sharing, we’ll cover the essential elements for creating viral content that taps into human behaviour and psychology.
While a dash of luck is always involved, you can significantly stack the odds in your favour. By leveraging research-backed best practices for crafting captivating narratives, visually engaging content, and shareable formats, you can unlock the immense power of social amplification. Read on to master the art and science behind content that compels your audience to share across all networks. We’ll cover specific examples and formulations to help you apply these viral strategies to your own content efforts.
Creating viral content is both an art and a science. It requires fully understanding your target audience, crafting compelling narratives, incorporating visual appeal, and optimizing for shareability across platforms.
So, just how do you create news stories and other content that your audience can’t resist sharing again and again?
Know Your Audience Inside Out
The foundation of shareable content is crafting stories specifically tailored for your target readership. Conduct in-depth audience research to unlock insights into their demographics, values, interests, and pain points.
For example, BuzzFeed and NowThis create snackable videos that appeal to young people through humour, brevity, and relatable cultural references. Meanwhile, The New York Times drives shares with its in-depth journalism targeting intellectually curious readers.
When brainstorming content ideas, continually ask yourself, “How is this relevant and valuable to my audience?” By aligning closely with their preferences, you give them a reason to share.
Headlines That Seduce Curiosity
Compelling headlines instantly capture attention and compel further reading. Conduct A/B testing to identify phrases that pique reader interest.
For example, Copyblogger’s headline “How to Attract Your First 1000 Email Subscribers” promises a clear payoff for the reader.
Powerful headline formulas include:
- Intriguing questions – “Is This Popular Supplement Putting You at Risk?”
- Addressing pain points – “Struggling to Get Media Coverage? Here’s Why.”
- Challenging assumptions – “Forget Everything You Know About Product Launch Strategies”
- Offering takeaways – “10 Photoshop Tips Every Beginner Should Know”
Stories That Tug at Heartstrings
Factual articles have a place, but stories with an emotional core spread further. Tear-jerking tales of compassion, amusing anecdotes, and inspiring growth connect us by reminding readers of shared experiences.
For example, Humans of New York’s touching photo stories reveal strangers’ lives in an intimate, relatable way, and therefore create compelling stories that people want to share.
When developing stories ask yourself, “How can I craft an emotional narrative?” Personal stories and underdog success stories tend to resonate widely.
Give Readers Takeaway Value
Content that provides practical utility encourages sharing by offering value. DIY tutorials, product reviews, research reports, and how-to articles give actionable advice readers apply in their own lives.
For example, a study by Moz revealed that 17 of the 20 most shared blog posts provided how-to value for the reader.
Before creating content, think about crafting key takeaways readers gain from spending time with your content. Share your lessons and expertise through their eyes.
Our brains process visuals 60,000 times faster than text. Eye-catching images, infographics, videos, and illustrations enhance content and make it more memorable.
For example, Upworthy relies heavily on emotional images and captions that tell a story.
Spice up your content with:
- Captivating stock photos
- Custom illustrations
- Engaging data viz
- Stop-scrolling graphics
- Videos that show rather than just tell
Make it Interactive
Content that invites participation draws readers in deeper and gets them actively involved. Embed polls, quizzes, surveys, assessments, contests, and other interactive elements to stimulate engagement.
For example, BuzzFeed includes amusing personality quizzes in many articles. Who can’t resist sharing a personality quiz?
Giving readers a role in shaping the story or providing feedback satisfies our human need for community and promotes sharing.
Showcase Social Proof
When others validate and vouch for your content, it appears more trustworthy. Spotlight positive comments, expert quotes, celebrity endorsements, and use customer testimonials when appropriate.
Even expert bylines lend credibility. Ask respected industry figures to contribute quotes or co-author pieces to tap into their audience.
Optimize for Mobile Reading
With growing mobile usage, ensure content is optimized for smaller screens. Use short paragraphs, bullet points, bold fonts, and simple design. Check that pages load quickly on 3G networks.
Platforms like Facebook and Apple News also require mobile-friendly formats. Optimizing boosts sharing by removing friction.
Turn Data Into Compelling Infographics
Infographics simplify complex information into an easily digestible, visually engaging format. They tend to get widely shared for their novelty and shareability.
For example, information like statistics, research findings, how-to steps, and comparisons can become captivating infographics.
When creating infographics, aim for simple, uncluttered designs that convey key information cleanly.
Add Social Sharing Buttons
Make sure it’s easy for readers to share your content across their networks. Place social sharing buttons prominently at both the top and bottom of articles.
For example, LinkedIn provides a sticky sharing toolbar when reading articles on mobile. If you see anything that is worthy of sharing it’s just a finger-tip away.
Test different placement options and emphasize the most popular channels for your audience, like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or email.
Enable one-click amplification of your stories.
Creating viral content takes research, strategic planning and an intuitive understanding of human behaviour. By tapping into your readers’ emotions, piquing their curiosity, and delivering tangible value, you craft irresistibly shareable stories. Master these strategies for unlocking the immense power of social sharing and expanding your reach tenfold.
Once you’ve completed creating your content that everyone is going to want to share, a great way to get the word out is to use a free press release distribution service.