Oscar Waterworth
Oscar Waterworth 21 November 2016

The Art of Crafting Viral Content

Read about how to approach crafting content that goes viral.

Did you know that both professionals and amateurs write and publish nearly two million blog posts every day? According to the research conducted by Marketing Profs, people post around two million articles each day on WordPress-powered sites alone. Some studies even suggest that the number is closer to three million, but whatever the number may be, you have to agree that people post a lot of content online. 

What’s more, according to an IBM research, around 90% of data in human history has been created in the last two years. However, while anyone writing articles and posting on social media hopes that their content reaches millions of people around the world, viral content is still pretty unpredictable. If you take into account that people spend less than 40 seconds on articles (according to an analysis of NewsCred data), it’s not hard to see why the concept of going viral is still puzzling.

However, despite all the variables, there are still certain rules for marketing your content. Also, elements of human behavior and psychology are very predictable in certain situations, which means that they can definitely be leveraged. 

Evoking High-Arousal Emotions


"We are not amused."

A recent study titled “What Makes Online Content Viral” from the University of Pennsylvania looked at 7,000 NY Times articles and the researchers noted that one of the main factors among viral articles is evoking “high-arousal” feelings, such as amusement and excitement. The researchers came to the conclusion that content that leaves readers excited, amused, or inspired is more likely to be shared on social networks than the so-called “low-arousal” content.

Furthermore, content that evokes negative feelings like anxiety and anger is also highly shared on Facebook and Twitter. This means that readers don’t want to sit on the fence after they read your content. Your target audience will only share an article that evokes a strong emotional response, so if you take a clear position and make unabashed statements will give your reader to take a side.

High Readability


"If I don't get this next sentence I swear, I'll jump." 

This one thing you should always have on your mind – viral content has to be readable. It doesn’t matter if your content has some groundbreaking information if it’s not readable, it’s basically useless. That is why you should always run your articles through a readability test. If you want to appeal to the largest audience, you should try to write in a ninth-grade reading-comprehension level. That might sound shocking, but you might be surprised to find out that some of your favorite authors are not as complicated as you think. 

For Instance, Malcolm Gladwell writes lower than ninth-grade level and even one of the most renowned authors of the 20th century - Ernest Hemingway wrote on a fourth-grade level. However, making your articles easy to read doesn’t mean simplifying your content. So, if your content is too complicated and your readability score is a little high, try to bring it doing by using everyday, common words rather than “academic” ones. Also, do not go overboard with the amount of words you use in your sentences. 

The Importance of Visual Appeal


Simplicity is beautiful 

While the content of your articles should be the main focus of your content strategy, most people often overlook visuals when it comes to creating content. But we’re not only talking about simple images, this also includes your layout and typography. Nevertheless, according to Social Media Examiner research, adding an image to your tweet can boost your retweets by 35%. In addition, the research also revealed that Facebook posts with a picture have an 87% interaction rate, compared with 4% from a simple link.

Now, let’s talk a little about your layout – most people struggle reading over-long paragraphs versus small pieces of text, with more surrounded with space. Experts from the King Content Agency explain that everything from letter and word-spacing to column width and size of your letters plays a large part in how readable a passage is. And as we mentioned before, the more readable your content is, the more likely is it to be shared on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. 

Don’t Forget to Publish During Peak Hours


Finally, who have to mention that when you post, is almost as important as what you post online. Research from BuzzSumo claims that the best days of the week for your content are Mondays and Tuesdays. Also, the average blog today gets the most traffic around 11 a.m., according to data gathered by KissMetrics. Weekends are naturally really popular for publishing, but the best tactic is to publish on Monday or Tuesday and use the weekend to promote that piece of content on your social media channels. 

Even though some of these things depend heavily on your particular niche, most of these tactics will surely help you promote your content. And if you really want to see how your content resonates with your target demographic, you should do a little bit of research and see what posts get the most views and shares. 

Oscar Waterworth
Oscar Waterworth

awesome, cheers Ray!

Ray Beharry
Ray Beharry

YouTube analyzed what make videos go viral.
You can't plan for it, or artificially generate it - there are factors that affect virality:

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