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Most modern businesses engage in digital marketing of some kind, and much of that falls under the umbrella of content marketing. Whether it’s blog posts, photos, social media updates, videos, webinars, or anything else, you probably use content marketing to maintain a relationship with your audience.
So for most of us, publishing a piece of content that goes viral would be the ultimate win. The problem is, we can’t seem to settle on a formula for exactly what makes content spread like wildfire. There are of course, some basic rules. We are often told to keep it simple, communicate fast and be honest. But besides these broad guidelines, there is no secret formula to going viral. Different demographics prefer different content styles and topics.
Thus, the formula for creating impactful, eye-catching content lies in one place only: the minds of your target audience members.
Please your niche
Know your target audience. We’ve all heard it before, but it’s easier said than done. It’s tempting, especially for new businesses, to play it safe and make sweeping statements that could attract anyone.
But paradoxically, this is a surefire way to remain anonymous and unnoticed; the exact opposite of viral. By examining your niche market or target audience inside and out, you can cut to the chase and speak directly to them. The more a business is able to master this ongoing process of courting their audience, the stronger they establish themselves in their industry.
Yes, we already talked about how there is no definite formula for going viral. However, the closest thing to a reliable content marketing formula is humor. No matter what industry you operate in, your audience has a sense of humor. Depending on age, gender, income level, occupation, and other factors, the kind of humor varies greatly. This is where knowing your demographic really comes in handy.
According to a study by Buzzsumo, a content analysis software company, humor fuels a large percentage of viral content.
After looking at over 100 million articles, they found that humorous content was significantly more likely to create a buzz than non-humor. Viewers feel more compelled to share something that made them laugh.
If this seems difficult with the subject matter of your business, start small. Browse your scheduled content or past content and look for opportunities to sprinkle in humor. Conduct subtle experiments with humor at first to see how your audience responses. If a dichotomy exists in your audience (e.g. parents and non-parents), consider split testing.
Employ A/B testing
Split-testing, or A/B testing, assists you in the most critical aspect of digital marketing: observation. Observing different responses from different target groups can provide more information than trial and error, and at a much faster rate.
A Hubspot study demonstrated the importance of the “know your audience” rule upon examining three different businesses. Each business used split-testing to determine audience preferences and came up with three separate findings. One group preferred a simplistic page with minimal text, while another strongly preferred imagery.
Again, we are shown that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to attracting audience attention. Through split-testing, you can learn to perfect and tweak your message and get a feel for the different subgroups within your audience.
Lastly, as you develop content, it’s important to stay inspired. If you’re feeling bored, don’t post. When content creators are feeling uninspired, viewers can sense the lack of enthusiasm and innovation. Thus, they skip right over your content and move on to the next thing.
Another key takeaway of the Buzzsumo study was that “awe-inspiring” posts were far more likely to go viral than any other kind of post. Internet users are bombarded with content all day and simply don’t have the time to read run-of-the-mill posts. However, a unique message that inspires awe or communicates information in a unique way will certainly stop their scroll.
Brainstorm ways to communicate more authentically, reveal more and frame topics in a new light. That may mean sharing more of your story or bringing in perspectives from more people in your startup.
These are the fundamental building blocks to creating a platform that receives consistent engagement. Even if your business never garners millions of shares or reaches Buzzfeed-level fame, catering to your audience alone with keep you afloat. Focus less on going viral across the entire internet, and more on going “viral” within your customer-base. Employ these strategies and engage on a regular basis, and your audience will come to expect brilliant content from you.