Here are some more tips on how to create viral content from Mark Smiciklas. Click to make larger and see the full article.

You’ve probably heard of videos, photos or articles “going viral.” You may have even wondered “what does that even mean?” or “why can’t that happen to my content?”

Let’s answer the first question: what does going viral mean? Simply put, Kelsey Libert writes for Moz, it involves “content that can spread in a way that creates massive attention.” Or even simpler, it’s when everyone and their grandma has seen or heard about a certain video, photo or article either by coming across it on the web or by word of mouth.

Whether you’re a content marketer, a journalist or Joe Schmoe writing a hobby blog, you probably want your content to go viral. Going viral = crazy spike in page views = more potential customers/readers/fans.

Here are a few quick tips to get you started on the road to virality:

Content needs to evoke emotions to go viral. People have to feel passionately about a piece of content to one, engage fully with it and two, feel compelled to share it. Citing a University of Pennsylvania study on the New York Times’ most emailed articles, Carson Ward writes in Moz that evoking high-energy emotions will get your content moving. Anger, awe and anxiety, in that order, tends to inspire sharing. Derek Halpern of Social Triggers shared the time he “pisssed a bunch of people off” when he challenged the popular held belief that “content is king.” This lead, he said, to a “traffic win.”

Be mindful of the news cycle.
Your content should be timely, and tweaked as necessary to reflect the latest updates. Larry Kim, founder of WordStream, shared his company’s experience of going viral. They released a study comparing Google Display Network with Facebook Advertising, just three days before Facebook was set to release its IPO (note the timing). Around the same time, GM ditched its ads on Facebook and presto, WordStream’s content was being cited on TV and all over the web. While this was happening, Kim said WordStream tweaked the headline on their original post to gain more traction. They also produced follow up content to piggy back off the original article’s success.


Don’t let this be you

Don’t forget about offline virality. Some people may not be like you and me, plugged into what’s happening online each and every second. Take my beloved grandmas, for example. I don’t think they ever went on the internet by themselves in their lifetimes. You can’t forget about those people when building your content. “At the moment, 7% of word-of-mouth is online,” Jonah Berger, author of “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” tells Dorie Clark in Forbes. “It’s clear why marketers like shiny new toys and the next big thing, but most word-of-mouth is offline, face-to-face communication.”

Think of a viral piece of content – either something you’ve seen go viral or a piece of your own content that’s gone viral. Why do you think it went viral?

What do you think is better for a business: having content go viral a few times a year or steady, consistent page view success?