This guest Post is by Alex Petrovic, Advanced SEO strategist with Dejan SEO whom I met at Cebit 2010 in Sydney.
Viral content is something that existed way before internet was born; it was just in different forms. The internet allowed us the ability to create viral content much easier and to spread it faster, but with a big market comes big competition, so viral marketing can become quite difficult even with a huge fan base. Even so, getting your content to go viral can be a crucial step in your internet marketing campaign and is surely worth the effort. Once viral, your content will reach thousands of people and tell them about your services, products and your brand in general. The best form of advertising is when your users and customers promote your work on their own, which is what viral marketing is all about.
Creating Viral Content
The biggest problem with viral marketing is creating a viral campaign. For those who know something about SEO the principles are the same as with link bait, but viral content requires more effort over a longer period of time. Let’s get this straight, anyone can create viral content material, but not everyone can make it go viral without doing their research properly.
He Already Reached the Stars, Can You Do the Same?
The first step is to come up with an idea that can go viral. This depends on your market, but in most cases you can rely on trends. If you investigate the upcoming trends in your niche you can find out which topic has the best chances of going viral. This is not an easy task and requires a lot of understanding about trending, but this is your best shot to predict the success of your viral content and to find something worthy of creating and sharing.
If you are not sure what to go for then simply investigate something that is already popular and feels like there is room for more. Start with things you already know. We did an experimental viral marketing campaign with a video that was supposed to tap “the biggest, the ugliest, the greatest” category. With hours and hours of research and quality implementation of the project, hiring professional voice actors, professional designers, we managed to achieve just that. But the idea was already there, we didn’t come up with something new, we took what already existed and made it interesting by adding a hook. With some promotion we managed to get the video become viral and even to this day it is often tweeted, shared on Facebook and talked about. Just the comment feedback was amazing.
A certain news website makes almost every single one of their posts go viral. What they do is they monitor the news feeds and as soon as something comes up they write a 300 word post talking about the news and they publish it, tweet it, digg it, stumble it and post it on Facebook. If you visit the same page few minutes later you will see more content, a few minutes later you will see some images or even a video, and 30 minutes after the post was published you will see a full news article with details and everything. So what is the idea here? Be first to break the news and you are pushing your viral campaign though the door with ease, everyone remembers who the source was and who was the first to publish some news.
This is just an example, but creating viral content is all about being first or being original, and both are hard. So knowing what might work is essential. Investigate your market and come up with trending topics you can work on to create something of value.
One of the reasons why most viral marketing campaigns fail is because the content is not easily shared and is often fragmented. Consolidating your content and create a one strict URL where the content will be shared from, where all the tweets and digs and likes will point to is crucial if you want the post to go viral, this all comes down to building the critical mass and tipping point.
You will never create a viral campaign if your post has duplicate pages and people can share it from various sources, as that way you will never reach the tipping point, you will lose your critical mass. So make sure that your content can be shared only from a single URL, and make sure that you add your preferred methods of sharing.
The first Pitch
Some marketers believe that the first pitch is the most important one. Although it definitely is one of the crucial aspects of success, it is not the only one, as most viral marketing campaigns tend to be long term and your tipping point may happen months after the content is live. But to make sure you get the right exposure from the start you need to maximize your first round and you can do that by engaging influential people connected to your market.
If I want something to be heard in the SEO world I would do anything I can for SEOmoz and their crew to share that content, which will allow me to have maximum exposure in the first round. You need to find influencers in your market and think of a way to engage them and have them share your content. But don’t stress if they don’t, most of the times the content that has quality will come to them sooner or later, through some other channel, some long tail user. After all, viral content circulates the web, so it is no surprise if some influencers you haven’t thought of become the ones that make your tipping point explode.
If your content was done based on someone’s research you need to make sure to cite and content the original researchers. If they share your content that will not only help your promote it, but it will give your content the needed authority. Focus on providing quality, something of interest for your market, be that a video, an inforgraphic or an article and the quality along with some authority shares will push your content where it belongs to.
Not every viral campaign manages to go viral, but that I mostly due to mistakes made during your efforts. The best part is that there is no time limitation when your content can become viral, so be patient. Makes sure you do your research and engage the right people in the beginning, and most of all, make sure that your content is easily shared and that all roads lead to one single page in order to accumulate your critical mass.
Thanks to Alex Petrovic, Advanced SEO strategist – Dejan SEO for this guest post.