8 Tried-and-Tested Tips to Make Your Content Truly Viral

5 years ago when I just started Digital Olympus I was a big fan of the idea – the more the better. Especially, when it comes to content marketing. We’ve been running our own conference online at least 4 times per year as well as posting a dozen blog posts per week. 

We spent countless days and nights creating new content, hoping that it will get us more traffic. At that time, this strategy seemed to be the only solution. 

Well, I was wrong! 

Not only did we not get the results we expected, but we actually ended up channeling our resources in the wrong direction. 

On top of this, some time later I had to spend hours cleaning our blog from all those useless posts. 

This situation taught me a valuable lesson: good content is about quality. The quality of not only the copy itself, but also the quality of content promotion.

I’ve also learned that it’s better to publish one solid post that has more potential to go viral rather than tons of content pieces that no one cares about. 

So, as an active supporter of the ‘less is more’ strategy, I want to share with you a list of tips to help your next post not go unnoticed. 

1. Unleash the power of pre-outreach

We’ll start with one of my favorite strategies – pre-outreach. 

Over the years of working in digital marketing, I discovered that pre-outreach is the best way to secure shares and links before the post goes live. 

In other words, doing pre-outreach is like building a safety net for your viral marketing strategy. 

But there’s a tricky part to it. 

If you’re looking for quick results, you need to have some industry friends that you could reach out to. At Digital Olympus, we’ve spent the last few years connecting with industry experts. After a long time of cooperation, it allows us to ask them for a small favor of promoting a new content piece. 

If you have never done pre-outreach before and don’t have the necessary connections, you need to build your network from scratch. 

You can start by exploring your industry groups. In closed groups on Facebook and LinkedIn, you can connect with marketers from your niche, who are looking for new ways to promote their content.  

If you start your search for connections on Facebook, you simply need to join a relevant group to see all the members. Then, you can find these group members on LinkedIn and send a quick message, asking if they’re interested in partnering up on a content promotion side. Don’t forget to mention that you are in the same Facebook group. 

Here’s an example of the B2B bloggers boost group on Facebook, which connects professionals from the B2B niche. You can join this group, and once you’re a member of it, you can see a list of other participants, whom you can contact.

b2b bloggers boost facebook group

On LinkedIn, there are also many private groups to find new connections. But while you can see the list of group members, LinkedIn doesn’t always allow you to message them if you’re not connected to them already. 

How else can you find useful connections? 

Another way is to go through the historical data of readers who previously shared your posts. 

These people can be from the same industry as you are, and since they have already been interested in your content, you can ask them to share more of it. 

You can check who shared your posts with platforms like BuzzSumo with just a few clicks. 

Below you can see a list of Twitter users that previously shared content that we published on digtialolympus.net:

twitter buzzsumo

In case your posts didn’t have a sufficient number of shares, you can use BuzzSumo to find posts with similar topics and connect with people who shared these posts via email. You can use Hunter.io to uncover their email addresses. 

Here’s how you should frame your message to your new connections:

  • Emphasize that since they’ve shared similar content already, they might be interested in your post too.
  • Use short but sweet subject lines and get straight to the point. Here’s a good resource with cold email templates you can use to grab a prospect’s attention and get a reply back.
  • always write follow up emails and connect with your email outreach contacts across social media platforms 

2. Spice up your next post with some catchy visuals

What do you imagine an engaging article should look like?

For me, it’s the combination of well-written text and visual content that makes the post more eye-catching and interesting to read. 

Good-looking visuals also help the readers comprehend the text a lot better. Reportedly, people following directions with illustrations memorize the information 323% better than those, who follow the directions in the text form. 

Over the years of experimenting with different types of content, I found these visuals to be the most useful:

1) GIFs 

You can use GIFs to facilitate certain ideas. This is a good way to make your posts sound more approachable, relevant, and direct. 

You can also put GIFS to practical use and create custom-made images that will be explaining or showcasing something, like this gif with the unboxing of products:

via GIPHY

2) Videos

Among the benefits of video content, the most notable are brand awareness and information retention

Videos prompt consumers to memorize your brand and recommend it to others. Your audience knows how much time and effort goes into making video content, and they appreciate it. 

But you don’t have to invest a lot of money in video production right away. Start with shooting a few good-quality videos with your phone and see how this impacts your content performance. 

Also, you can always repurpose the videos you already have. For instance, you could turn your last live stream into a video that you could further integrate into your written content. 

3) Images and Infographics 

If your posts contain a lot of data, images and infographics can help put this data in order and make it more comprehensible. 

To visualize this data, you can use tools like Canva, Visme, and Venngage, where you can create stylish images and infographics. 

Overall, custom-made images add credibility to your brand and contribute to creating a unique brand voice. For instance, using recognizable images and adding a personal brand twist to them is what helps Ahrefs make their blog stand out:

ahrefs

3. Add quotes from your industry experts

If you are building authority in your niche but still have a long way to go, you can attract more attention to your posts by adding expert quotes. 

It’s much easier to promote content that includes quotes from influencers. In fact, that’s the reason why expert round-up posts are so widely viral. You can see it for yourself from the image below: 

buzzsumo

As you may have noticed, articles with an expert opinion are getting tons of social shares. Also, experts themselves share these posts, and the more influencers are featured in a post, the more potential it has to go viral. 

But while expert round-up posts might sound like a terrific idea, they still have a few downsides. 

For instance, such types of content have a tendency to repeat each other and present almost no value to the readers. I’ve also noticed that some of the round-up posts are overstuffed with expert insights that often contradict each other. On top of this, they’re lacking a solid structure, and it’s easy to lose focus when reading them.

So, instead of creating a round-up post that might end up being quite mediocre content, use their comments only to support some claims you’re making in your posts. 

Our good friends Bid4Papers did a post that demonstrates a perfect example, how you could make things happen. In this post, you can see that expert quotes are used only as examples to support the author’s statements, which adds authority to the entire article. 

Of course, there is still a chance that you might not have such experts in your network yet. In this case, you can take a quote from already existing content written by an expert for a reputable website. The only thing that you need to ask them whether you could add it. Consider it an opportunity to grow your network and ask them to share your post. 

4. Make your content truly interactive

In addition to catchy visuals and expert quotes, you can also use interactive content to secure more social shares. 

Did you know that the most popular story on the New York Times website has a quiz in it? That’s how strong the influence of interactive content on audience engagement is.  

Interactive content not only helps you engage your audience but also can be used to improve the exit and bounce rates on your key pages. Based on the SEMrush ranking factors study the more users are staying on your page – the better your site is ranking in SERPs.

With these benefits in mind, I recommend the following types of interactive content to use in blog posts:

  • Quizzes. This type of content helps not only retain website visitors but also increases the time they spend on the website. I recommend using online tools like LeadQuizzes to create quizzes optimized for search engines.  
  • Polls. Polls work well for collecting customer feedback in real-time. You can use platforms like Typeform to turn your polls into a friendly conversation with your customers to boost engagement. Here’s how Neil Patel collects customer feedback with a poll on his blog:
neil patel content survey
  • Live chats. Did you know that 52% of consumers are ready to pay more for fast communication with brands? Imagine, how many potential leads you’re losing if they cannot immediately interact with you. So, make sure to include a live chat to increase engagement on your posts and catch potential leads. 

Interactive content creates a snowball effect – the more value it represents for your visitors, the more they will be interested in sharing it. As a result, it helps your content go viral. 

5. Produce in-depth and long-form content 

I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that the best blog posts on the internet are actually long-reads.

There’s nothing surprising about it. The more details you use to explore the topic of the post, the higher are the chances that a reader will be interested to read more of it. 

You can see it from the performance of Brian Dean’s blog. His posts are 2,000+ words and have a stellar performance in terms of engagement. Take a look at how many social media shares his articles have on the screenshot below:

buzzsumo shares

Readers also actively discuss their posts, leaving around 250 comments under each article:

brian dean comments

However, not everybody can commit to writing lengthy blog posts and guides. Obviously, it takes a lot of resources to put together a long-read article, both financially and time-wise. 

Nevertheless, you could still do something similar, like putting together a lengthy list of some examples on the topic related to your niche. Take a look at how our good friends at Moosend got over 300 social shares by creating a list of 20+ best marketing campaigns:

buzzsumo new

Such type of content doesn’t require hours of research, but still brings enough value for the readers, prompting them to share your content. 

6. Create a series of posts 

Creating content in a series isn’t something new to the world. 

In the 18th century, authors often published separate chapters of their novels, and when they got more attention, they released them in full. 

People had to wait for the new chapters to come out, discussed them with their friends, shared theories about how the story would end, and it boosted their interest for it even more. 

At Digital Olympus, we continue this publishing tradition by releasing our email outreach guide in parts. 

link prospecting

The only thing our guide lacks right now is the subscription form that allows our readers to follow the upcoming content updates. To add this feature to our blog, we want to use a tool like Paperform that has plenty of subscription form templates for different occasions. 

The biggest plus of creating such series of posts is that you save tons of time on content promotion. And once a new chapter goes live, you simply alert your subscribers. 

Also, you could easily put together a list of users, who shared your content earlier and ask them to spread the word about the new chapter in your series. 

7. Share something valuable

What else can you do to make your content viral?

For the readers, it is important to get something they can hold on to after reading your posts. It can be a PDF guide that they can download to solidify the knowledge they’ve gained from your posts. 

As an example, you can look at how PickUpLimes, a vegan lifestyle blog, uses a printable PDF guide as a takeaway for the readers:

good content

Or, if you have guides teaching your readers how to make business proposals, you can include free proposal templates they can use for their benefit. These templates will also drive more traffic to your blog since you offer the content that many sources don’t offer for free. 

There’s one thing you should remember. 

People won’t share gated content. Make sure that they can get direct access to your offer straight from your website without asking them for their email.  

The thing is that gated content, although useful for lead generation, has low value in terms of virality. If you want your content to go viral, you need to be ready to share it with your audience with no strings attached. 

8. Use the right tools to ease the process of promotion

Contrary to the popular misconception, content doesn’t go viral overnight. There’s a long period of preparation and research, not to mention that you will need the whole battery of tools to help you track your progress. 

There are a lot of resources available online, so it’s easy to get lost in so many choices. 

Here are a few of my trusty recommendations:

  • Quuu. A lot of viral success happens due to smart content curation, which this tool helps you to do. The content is hand-curated and broken down into 500+ categories, offering you unique topics that provide value. 
  • Zest. This platform has an impressive content vault. If you create content for B2B, Zest allows you to share it and get relevant traffic. 
  • Pitchbox. Writing cold emails is the toughest part of pre-outreach, as you have to make all your emails personalized. Pitchbox is a comprehensive outreach tool, which, among other features, can help you customize each outreach, create automatic follow-ups as well as ease the process of managing your email outreach campaigns. 
  • BuzzSumo. This tool helps analyze your content and estimate its potential to go viral. It also helps find users who previously shared your content or the content similar to yours.  
  • ViralContentBee. Viral content is about real organic traffic, not bot traffic. ViralContentBee helps marketers generate social buzz with the help of a crowd-sourcing model, using real traffic from different online resources. 
  • Joinative. This platform helps brands promote their content through its wide range of sites, connected to their ads network. Your content appears as native ads inside of the posts, related to yours by topic. 
  • Voluumdsp. Another online tool for native advertising, which also does content targeting. This means that you will be able to integrate your posts on websites related to certain niches or audiences.

Finally, as you promote your content on social media, you will also need a selection of social media tools for scheduling, posting, and promotion. 

Content promotion involves ongoing analysis and tracking, so, naturally, you won’t be able to tackle everything without automating some of your tasks. 

So make sure to equip yourself with an arsenal of essential tools to track your progress. 

What Have We Learned Today

Going viral sounds glamorous at first. 

But when you take a closer look at it, you understand that there is a lot of diligent work and effort that goes into making content truly viral. 

In my experience, I’ve found that spicing up the content with catchy visuals, including interactivity elements, adding expert opinion for credibility really helps you create valuable reputable content. 

And, of course, your content won’t go far without pre-outreach and meticulous progress tracking. So, keep crunching those numbers to catch new viral content opportunities. 

Alexandra is a frequent speaker and founder of the digital marketing conference, DigitalOlympus.net. She also helps clients with digital PR, content marketing, and link-building. Besides that, she regularly contributes to leading digital marketing blogs, including Moz, SEJ, Salesforce, SMExaminer, and many others.

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