August 2016: Entrepreneur’s Edge

How to get your content to go viral

Joleene Moody

Joleene Moody

You need more traffic to your site. More interest in your articles. More reaction to your action. You’ve been told a thousand times that the key to making you a master on the web is to create viral content. And so you attempt to do so. But nothing happens. No one tweets you. No one shares you. Basically, no one loves you. So how do you turn things around so your content is contagious? Easy peasy.

Raise a ruckus

Seriously. Raise a ruckus and get people talking. Write content that evokes emotion. Certainly not the kind that will start fires or mass riots, no, but the kind that elicits a powerful response. Remember the picture of the dress that circulated the web? The one that asked whether or not the dress was white and gold or blue and black? That photo, which originated on Tumblr, went viral almost immediately. News outlets all over the globe picked up on the story. Celebrities weighed in, tweeting their opinion to millions of adoring fans. The world of science even stepped up, sharing theories to explain why our brains see what they see. Add to that the number of companies that created a knock off version of the dress to sell, and you have a viral result that is unprecedented.

Perhaps you don’t have a questionable image to share, but you may have a questionable opinion to share. Build content around that, and watch the reaction
roll in.

Be the bearer of good news

There is a phrase in the news business: If it bleeds it leads. And while studies show that Americans are more attracted to top stories with gory details, such is not the case on the web. Jonah Berger and Katherine L. Milkman of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania published a finding in 2011 that explored 7,000 New York Times articles shared on the Internet. Turns out the majority of stories shared were positive and uplifting. A later analysis published by BuzzSumo in 2014 reported the same thing: Funny, interesting, and amusing content was more likely to circulate than negative and gory.

Write with humor. Write with wit. And share something that will not only evoke emotion but will do so with a smile and a wink.

Spell it right

Many a grammar critic resides on the web. They lurk in corners, unseen, until you post something that isn’t spelled or worded correctly. Instead of sharing your amazing insight, they pounce on you, reducing your confidence to mere ash as they offer correct spellings so you can be a better person. Your post dies right there, on the battlefield, never to be seen again. Or, like the post of the young lady that unintentionally made it look like she was selling her little sister, gets you in serious trouble with the law.

Punctuation matters. Spelling matters. Grammar matters. If the content is pleasing and easy to read, it is more likely to be shared. But if it’s littered with mistakes and sentences that look like they were written by a third grader, no dice. Consider breaking up your content with subheads, too. Readers are more likely to take in all of your amazing wit if you break it up into digestible pieces.

In the end, take the time to write engaging content that makes sense, elicits emotion, and flows well. Have a second set of eyes review your content before you hit send. It could be the difference between a well-intended post and one that gets you thrown in the slammer.

Joleene Moody is a freelance writer, blogger and speaker who lives in Oswego County with her husband and daughter. Learn more at takeyourvoiceback.com. Her column appears monthly in NNY Business.