Reactive Content for Social Sharing
Content that creates any kind of significant and fast spreading online buzz is considered viral and sometimes called “contagious content.” What are the qualities of videos, images, blogs and articles that go viral? It definitely has more to do with standing out than blending in. Evidence suggests that people who sort through YouTube deciding on what to watch pay attention to views, as popularity attracts more viewers. That’s why the more “likes” you can initially generate, the more chance others will watch it.
Seeing Through Viral Hype
The biggest myth about viral content is that there’s a certain formula that can work for anyone. Obviously not all content creators have equal significance. No matter how many experts you listen to about the keys to crafting viral content, the top viral videos and blogs will usually either come from an already popular website or somehow receive exposure from a popular media outlet.
The video to the novice song “Friday” by Rebecca Black was the most viewed video on YouTube in 2011 and sparked a national discussion on how such an amateur could overshadow professional recording artists. What was amazing was that over 80 percent of viewers who rated the video voted “dislike.” The mystery can be explained by the fact that the viral activity began after the video was mentioned on a popular blog by comedian Michael J. Nelson. From there it was reviewed and ridiculed by several media outlets.
Viral videos can also be rigged. In December 2012 YouTube discovered and cancelled two billion views for music videos were faked possibly by hackers who worked for the music industry. In other words, don’t be distracted too much by what’s considered hot online because there’s always a chance it’s misleading, distorted, rigged or hyped information.
Your video or blog might never be viewed by millions, but you might still have a chance to get enough attention to attract an audience that helps your business. One of the most important factors of viral content is that it gets reviewed by influencers such as popular bloggers. Developing an ongoing relationship with several successful bloggers can plant seeds to future viral action. Content that has no connection with other online influences will likely not go viral on its own.
The actual content can take on many different forms in viral scenarios. Short wacky videos and informative lengthy blogs are typical examples of contagious content. But there are no real ways to predict what can go viral, other than the content is usually filtered through popular media channels. Other terms that have been used by experts to characterize viral qualities include: relevant, controversial, personable, creative, inspiring, emotional, humane, humorous, shocking and daring. Catchy titles help as well.
Stay true to what you believe in instead of trying to figure out how to fit into popular schemes. Compromising your vision for short-lived popularity might not be worth it because viral activity does not guarantee sales conversions or building long term loyalty. As long as you craft creative content you should be in the running for viral opportunities, provided that it catches the attention of influencers with big audiences.
If you come across viral content that inspires you and fits your vision, then go ahead and experiment with it, but don’t just do something controversial or shocking to try to go viral. What works for others might not work for you. It’s fine to experiment with humor and novelty, but never lose site of solving problems. Take the lead in content marketing by crafting edgy educational content that no one else is doing.
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Ian Conklin is the President of OTR Web Solutions a web development company building marketing websites since 2000 with offices in Canada, USA, Europe and South America.
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