You know those few liners or single paragraphs that make your fingers itch to go buy the product being sold? Whether it’s a raspberry soda, a set of office pens, or a new Starbucks coffee: contagious content is all around us, selling us daily on purchases we make decisions on instantly. So how do YOU create it for YOUR brand and your customers and clientele?

Going Viral with Contagious Content

Let’s face it; everyone wants his or her site to go viral at least once. It is the new stardom, the new celebrity power. Getting your website or content to go viral means becoming someone with a bit of Internet power and that is pretty cool. By having something you posted reach thousands or millions of viewers means your site is being shared and viewed more than ever and people want to know who created this viral post. Here are a few secrets to creating that contagious content!

1. Let’s Be Positive, Shall We?

Positivity is very important when it comes to creating that content contagion. With all the negativity in the news, people want to read something optimistic. According to Social Triggers, the way to craft contagious content and make a post positive for a reader is to invoke happiness, awe, or surprise. People like to learn interesting tidbits of information in constructive ways. They are also more likely to share something that they have learned from or found useful, as long as it is something that is positive. This is something we will discuss further on in this post.

  • Get Happy! People want to feel happy when reading articles online. They get enough of the gloom and doom by watching television. It seems that so much of what people hear these days is filled with which country is having an uprising, which politician is the lowest person of the week, or how many people have lost jobs. This is all very important to people, but they just do not want to read it or hear it every hour of the day. Become the positive beacon in a world of darkness, and people will share your site with friends.
  • Inspire Awe. We also like being in awe. Before and after pictures online are intriguing because they show a drastic change in an environment. People are apt to share these photos or stories with their friends. “Look at this! Can you believe it?” they will say. Positive awe-inspiring content is important when gaining clicks and becoming viral. Give little tidbits of interesting information or create a post that lists some really interesting life helps, or as the kids say, lifehacks.
  • Most Excellent, Dude! Surprise them! Exceed their expectations. In this instant society, people are more likely to make a knee-jerk assumption based on past experiences. While it is not the coolest thing, it happens far more than anyone wishes to admit. Knowing this can help you when try to go viral. Make that first impression count. Create a web design that is outstanding, with a quick loading website. Spice your content up by being unique enough to get attention, but not too unique as you may scare readers away. Do something that will completely catch viewers off guard. When they are caught off guard, they will instantly tell someone. Facebook and Twitter have made it simple when it comes to instant sharing of websites or a really nifty post, so make your post shockingly sharable.
  • Negativity: Stop It! As the classic Bob Newhart MadTV sketch says, “Stop it!” Stop negativity before it gets too far. Media is full of negativity and posting something negative will add to the cacophony of undesirable posts, getting lost in the smorgasbord of negativity and will not garner enough visits or likes to get you viral. Sure, we see a few negative posts getting attention but not many. Generally the negative posts being shared are from news sources about bad things going on in the world. Focus on creating a positive environment and you will find that more people will like and share your post.


2. Be Useful and People Will Come

We all like for people to see how smart we are. We also like feeling as if we are part of a community. We really appreciate it when people value our opinions or thoughts. It is Psych 101. Knowing this can help you as you begin creating contagious content. Create posts that people will share because they feel it will help them look knowledgeable in an area. Something like this infographic shared by Who Is Hosting This is really great when it comes to learning facts and passing them on, making the sharer feel knowledgeable. In fact, this very infographic states that the top articles shared from the New York Times website were science related topics! People love science, people love learning, knowing, and sharing. Especially in the current climate of nerds being kings and queens of the world.

  • In the Know. According to the New Yorker, being “in the know” is really important to people. It is a way to belong to a certain group and feel accepted. It does not necessarily go along with being knowledgeable in the area such as science or math, but is part of being astute about what is going on in our social world. Knowing what is current. Staying up with existing trends is a must in this rapidly changing society, if you keep posting “outdated” things, people will begin to ignore you. Know your audience and the current social climate when you are making social media and web content, especially if you want to go viral.


3. Emotions for the Win!

As stated earlier, emotions are what get your post shared the most! We have discussed some emotions evoked by various viral content such as joy, awe and surprise. According to Social Triggers, other emotions conjured by viral content are anger, anxiety and fear. These are generally emotions you want to avoid when sharing content; because the majority of people do not like posts such as these. The occasional post that arouses these types of emotions might be beneficial, but not often. Make sure to research everything before posting something that could create an undesired emotion.

  • Negative Emotions: Stay Away. People do not want to feel negative emotions. People will leave your social media site ignore it if you post constant negative updates. They will not share pessimistic updates because they understand pessimism is not something their followers want to see. It is important to note that some negative emotions may provoke a slightly positive response; an example of this would be righteous anger.
  • Seeing Red. While it might not seem like it, people really do not like feeling angry. They do not want to see seemingly endless postings that conjure up feelings of irritation. They will stop following sites that make them feel that way. Again, feeling righteous anger can be acceptable occasionally, but it is not something people want regularly.
  • Anxiety and Fear. It is easy to understand that people do not like feeling anxious or fearful. Many people Google “how to cut down on anxiety” in order to get over any undesirable feelings of anxiety they already have. Posting a startling update is something that may be shared if it is important to daily life, for instance, finding out what chemicals are being used in bread or other food, but most of the time people will not share something terrifying because they do not want to acknowledge it. Stay away from anxiety and fear producing posts when making updates. If you want to amaze people, make it nice.


4. Everybody Likes a Story

Stories create our culture; they create the world we live in. People love hearing stories that captivate them, stories that make them feel a certain emotion, or teach them an important life lesson. Using a story is one way to get your content to become viral. Make the story one that is powerful or has a life lesson. When drawing on emotions, stories can draw on a various amount. Some stories can pull on the reader’s heartstrings. Though they might feel sad while reading it, there is something consoling and powerful about stories such as that. Stories that make people laugh can be another way to get your content viral. People will share stories they find hilarious. Funny stories should always be about something relevant to current society and culture.

5. Hit the Books!

Research the social and cultural trends. You might come up with a great idea to share your content in the form of a meme, but is that meme still relevant? (An example of a meme is Grumpy Cat.) Trends change rapidly and what was popular last week may no longer be popular this week. It is tough to measure what is still current, but one way is to go to your personal social media profile and look at what your friends are sharing. This is a great way to see what is up-to-date and what people are interested in.

  • The Who’s Who in Social Media. Learn who is popular in the social media culture. It seems that many people are following former Star Trek stars. Those stars post some pretty hilarious things. George Takei and Wil Wheaton are great examples of popular social media individuals who make content go viral quickly. Both of these stars also illustrate the differences in generations. Mr. Takei tends to garner an older audience and reaches a wider group, whereas Wil Wheaton has a massive fan base of younger people. Watching what they post is a great way to get a feel for what is relevant in social media and which age groups are more likely to be affected by certain types of posts.
  • Let’s Be Chums. We all prefer to follow businesses that relate to us. We do not want to follow a business that constantly advertises or to follow a business that makes us feel small or inadequate. Keep this in mind, as you create content for social media. People want to feel like a business is treating them as a friend. In a post on how to create a winner’s social media strategy, we talked about the process behind making something or discussing how something is done is better than outright advertising your product. It makes people feel “in the know” and as we mentioned earlier, people like feeling that they have the inside scoop. Creating this feeling of camaraderie is a great way to get your content to go viral and is a great way to engage with your followers. People like feeling as if they are part of something.


Final Thoughts

What makes a post sharable on social media sites? Many elements go into making a post something people want to share. As we have already discussed people are likely to share something that makes them look as if they are on the leading edge of a trend or that reflects positively on them. According to Marketo’s eBook Contagious Content: What People Share on Facebook and Why They Share It, people share content is company giveaways, giving advice on various things, warning people, amusing people, inspiring, amazing, and uniting people. All of these ways have been shown to be very successful for companies looking to make their content viral.
Creating contagious content is not as daunting as it may seem. People like to share things with friends and family members online and will always share things they find interesting or that give them helpful tips. By following these 5 secrets, you will be able to create social media and web content that will become contagious. Try implementing these techniques the next time you create a post and see what happens. Do not give up if you do not go viral right away, sometimes it may take awhile for people to warm up to the idea of sharing your company’s content. Give it time and one day you will check your social media statistics and realize you have gone viral. Get your happy dance on!