Viral content is the Holy Grail of social publishing. Social media managers have all heard the words “create some viral content,” and they have all rolled their eyes. Viral content isn’t something that is created. What you can do, though, is boost traffic with viral content.
What is viral content?
First, you have to understand what viral content is. Viral content is content that explodes and gets shared millions of times across the internet. It can be a video, photos, or even a story link. Anything that resonates with a broad audience and commands internet engagement.
Viral content is not a video created by a company or publisher with the intention of being shared a bunch of times. It is not a post a publisher puts out there under the expectation that it “breaks the internet,” For something to be truly viral, it needs to have already made an impact on the internet.
Why do you care what went viral?
You should care because it is possible to boost traffic with viral content. The idea is that there is a recognizable story that already exists. It is something people online are largely familiar with, and it is already highly searched. If you can jump on a trend and do it well, it could mean a lot of extra eyeballs on your content.
However, jumping on every meme, trend, and viral story is not necessarily a winning strategy. Here are some things to consider:
- Is the story/viral content something relevant to your brand?
- Are you okay being associated with the content? There are some things that you don’t want to be a part of—especially if you’re a news brand.
- Do you have any good ideas for content? Don’t force it to jump on the bandwagon. Make sure your idea is funny.
- Are you too late? You don’t want to miss the wave.
So what do I do to boost traffic with viral content?
The most important thing is that you want to make it your own. How can you put a brand-relevant spin on something that already has a spotlight? Is there a way to report on it? If you’re a news brand, is there a local spin/connection?
A TikTok star’s video of him sipping on Ocean Spray has been viewed tens of millions of times. For the challenge, people re-create his video by drinking cranberry juice while skateboarding to Fleetwood Mac.
That could mean good things for Wisconsin’s cranberry growers.
“My wife shared it with me, my daughter shared it with me, growers have been sharing it with me,” said Tom Lochner, executive director of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association.
They took a highly searched story and in the news, and they were able to make it local and relevant. In doing so, they were timely and relevant while still adding something new to the conversation. This is how you boost traffic with viral content that already exists.
Here are some ideas for stories that involve more than jumping on a meme train:
- Nostalgia. Is there a viral story that is connected to a past event? Or maybe there’s a large, highly searched event (Olympics, Super Bowl, World Series, etc). Throwbacks, this day in history, etc connected to the event/trend could drive traffic.
- Celebrity deaths. This can be tricky, but if your audience responds to the initial obituary, consider running a related piece. Reminiscing on a visit they made to your town? A local connection?
- Origin. Why is this trending? What is the impact of the trend?
Most importantly, make sure your post is set up for success: SEO’d properly, formatted well, and uses a recognizable headline. Done well, you should be able to boost traffic with viral content… even if you didn’t create it!