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Ask any novice in content marketing and it’s more than likely that viral content is one of the objectives of their strategy. For many, the rush of watching view counters grow and site visits skyrocket is a sign of victory.
The content has done its job, reaching thousands of people and bringing all those people onto your site. But is that really such a good thing?
What is viral content?
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There’s no real solid definition for what viral content is. But if I were to explain it, viral content is content that receives exceedingly more shares as opposed to a publisher’s regular piece of content. That could mean very different things for different websites.
A small time blog may consider an article that gets more than 5K shares ‘viral’ while a more established site like Buzzfeed may consider an article to only be viral if it is shared more than 15K times. But one thing is certain. Viral content is always shared by tons of people.
The purpose of virality
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The biggest problem with viral content is a misunderstanding of objectives. For most marketers, the ideal objective of viral content is for audiences to enter their site, consume the content, then bounce around the rest of the site and converting either by sale or whatever the ROI is.
But in reality, it is most often assumed that virality equates to more sales, which really is a mismatch of objectives. Impressions and views that don’t convert are merely empty shells. Web publications can get away with this because more visitors means potentially more ad revenue.
The primary objective for most viral content, in the end, is to create brand awareness and top of mind share. Viral content is an opportunity to to reach to a wider audience, but you will need to connect with them and go deep to fully reap the benefits.
Your viral piece of content has caught the attention of an unsuspecting Facebook browser, but you’ll have to make them stay to win.
First off, one of the biggest problems with viral content is that it has mass appeal, which doesn’t really suit target audiences of most brands. While the article may be getting views, you can also expect a high bounce rate – it’s unavoidable.
What you want to get is the 10k out of your 100k visitors that actually fit your target audience. To do that, there are several actions you can take:
1. Stay relevant and add value
Make sure your content is relevant to your core product. Anyone can make a viral article about the ’10 Best Salted Egg Yolk Croissants in Singapore’, but it’s probably not a good idea to do something like that if you are in the box cutter business. The rest of the content on your site isn’t going to attract them, and all your effort will be for naught.
2. Optimize web design
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No one in their right mind is going to stay on your site if it loads like crap. Those seconds count, with all those open tabs and pinging messages chiseling away at attention spans, you cannot afford a slow or poorly designed site.
Keep the UI simple and straightforward with clearly defined categories for easy maneuvering. If your post is long, always create a go back to top option at the bottom of the page.
3. Related content posts
By presenting your other relevant content at the end of the page, you may be able to entice audiences who enjoyed themselves or gained value to explore similar articles. The more time they spend on your site, the higher the chance of them converting. Give them reasons to stay.
Arguably the most important step of the process, a call-to-action is an essential crutch for effective content. Viral content typically attracts plenty of first-time viewers, so it’s often not going to be in your best interest to ask for a sale right away. Instead, ask for a subscribe, like, share or e-mail sign up, so you can deliver more content. Go for the sale when you have built up enough trust and delivered enough value.
5. Linking well
A big mistake a lot of sites make is not making sure their links on their articles open in a new tab. This is very important. Attention spans in this day and age are extremely low and a stray link may just mean losing a reader into the deep abyss of the Internet.
Platforms like WordPress defaults to opening links on the same page, so you should always remember to take appropriate countermeasures.
Excel in Content Marketing
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