Viral content is any piece of media that becomes an online sensation in a short period of time. It can be a funny video, the latest mobile app, a picture which moves you to tears or even just a phrase; the first and foremost distinguishing feature of viral content is the fact that it spreads like wildfire.
If people can relate to a picture, video or phrase, they will definitely share it with their friends and family. It happens all the time. The democratic structure of internet allows anything to go viral. People take pride in associating themselves with viral content. Always on the lookout for the next big thing, people even talk about viral content in their offline lives.
So, what does viral content mean for your business?
In business, viral content is the fastest and easiest way to create awareness about your product. The best way to attract inbound links and then convert them into leads is by creating something interesting, relevant and relatable. Your SEO link building efforts will reap great rewards if you create a piece of content that gathers millions of links in a few days. Viral content goes viral because it has a particular element of uniqueness which allows it to touch so many people. In business, if you are the creator of such content, it immediately gets you a lot of views, limelight, inbound links – and ofcourse, sales.
Viral content on a budget:
It is not easy to create unique content for free. Small businesses don’t have the budget to spend on creating viral content. However, unless you’re already established as a source of viral content, e.g. Buzzfeed, it is necessary to understand that efforts to create viral content may fail. You may have spent months shooting a video, but if it is it not received favorably by your target audience, you will immediately face a loss.
Your business should first pay attention to creating a viral content strategy. 90% of attempts made to create viral content, end up in failure. Sometimes, the content itself is not even remotely related to the business. What’s the point of a cosmetic brand posting videos of puppies on a rollercoaster? That’s why you should first brainstorm and streamline ideas and then embark on the mission to make viral content.
It doesn’t take money to be creative, so let’s look at the easiest and proven ways of making viral content on a budget:
- Evoke emotions
The single most important thing your content should do is spark emotion. Holiday commercials show a family celebrating together, pet food ads use the bond between a person and his pet and so on. People love looking at a perfect family. People love sharing content which promotes emotional messages. Link that with your product and grab customers easily. A great example is the ‘Love has no labels’ ad, produced by Ad Council. It had a warm and beautiful message which immediately became viral.
2. Create awe
If you make content that leaves your viewers speechless, it will be shared as soon as possible. Make sharing easy by using mediums like Facebook or Twitter. The more fantastic your story, the better viewership it gets. For instance, Felix Baumgartner’s space jump was something never seen by millions of people. It received an unlimited amount of attention on the Internet. The YouTube video got 8 million views. Incredible and out-of-the-ordinary events will be viewed and shared more.
3. Surprise people
This can be a bit tricky, because most people can guess what happens next in the story. However, if you try and be a little creative, you can surprise people with your ingenuity. For example, famous football player Cristiano Ronaldo dressed up as an old man and played football with kids on the street. When he finally revealed himself, people were surprised and delighted.
4. Element of anger
This is a risky method, but you can try it without meaning any harm. When you make people angry, you can expect an immediate response. Something which sparks anger can be shared and re-shared to start discussions on the Internet and highlight your brand or product. For example, people share and re-share Trump videos, because they are angry at his views and want to either protest or remark against it.
Such a video can be used with public service announcements and campaigns, e.g. the Celebrity Cruise Lines ad which lightly hints that Trump supporters are not welcome.
5. Spread joy
Anything that makes you happy, lifts your mood and helps you feel good about yourself, will make you want to share it with the people close to you. Motivation comes from things that spark joy in our lives. It can be anything, from two men saving a kitten stuck in a glass jar, or a Thanksgiving commercial featuring roommates celebrating together because they are both too far from home. Only a handful of brands understand the real importance of joy in viral content. If this element is used well, it is an immediate deal maker.
6.Element of anxiety
When people are anxious and worried, they stay tuned till the end to find out what happened. For instance, the 2004 South Asian Tsunami was a very scary incident. While the video of the tsunami is not of good quality, it has still received about 29 million views.
The driving force behind this video is anxiety. People were glued to the video because it made them worry about the outcome. A common strategy of some companies is to use a girl with dull skin, who is anxious to know how she will look after using a skin whitening cream. The example is crude, but it shows how you can effectively use anxiety as a trigger.
7. Induce fear
Our brains are hard-wired around feelings of fear. Look up all the Syrian refugee videos. They leave a huge mark on our minds because they make us fear brutality. In producing viral content, you can start with the element of fear, and then ease the situation to present your message.
Be creative and use the right tools to promote your content. The above elements can make any content go viral, and they don’t use much capital. Follow this concise guide about making viral content by Neil Patel, where he has taken up the case study of famous viral platform Gawker to explain viral content.