Perhaps you’ve dreamed of that day when all your hard work finally pays off in the form of a viral blog post that gets shared hundreds of thousands of times on social media and causes your total website traffic to spike. But do you know how to respond if it actually happens?
Got viral content? Here’s a response plan
Think about all the time and energy you’ve poured into content marketing over the years. You’ve spent many hours composing various individual blog posts, yet they’ve yielded next to nothing.
Months and months of hard work and countless hours have gone into tweaking your content strategy until you thought it was just right. You’ve experimented with various advertising strategies, built trust with your audience, and reached out to other bloggers and journalists in an effort to increase the visibility of your content.
Now imagine if, after all of this hard work, you finally have a post “go viral,” but you squander the opportunity because you weren’t prepared for it. That would be a damaging and discouraging blow, yes?
The moment you notice a piece of content start to look like it’s going viral, you have to pull the right levers and kick your end of the process into high gear. If you have a response plan already in place, the process will be much smoother and more effective.
Here are 7 specific things you should do:
1. Make sure your network is prepared
“Websites often go down when a surge of traffic, predictable or otherwise, overwhelms the server’s ability to respond to requests,” entrepreneur Chris Sulham notes.
“This is the principle behind Distributed-Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks; with enough traffic and load, servers will eventually crash or slow to a crawl. Without a website that’s optimized for the amount of traffic it generates, a viral event you’ve been hoping for can actually do as much harm to your brand as a viral attack.”
So you need to make sure you’re prepared for this possibility. That means investing in a tool such as SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor that reduces outages and improves performance — especially during peak times — well before a viral content.
This isn’t something you can set up at a moment’s notice; it needs to be in place already.
2. Put advertising and monetization strategies in place
Viral content is great from an exposure point of view, but what are you doing to profit from the exposure? You need a monetization strategy in place to reap the rewards.
One of the first things you should do is implement a sign-up form on the page to collect email addresses and other contact information. With the right plug-in, this can be done in 10 minutes or less.
The second step is to add Amazon and Adsense banners to your site. You don’t want to overpopulate your site, but a few well-placed ads will bring in extra revenue over the next couple of days. If you generate hundreds of clicks an hour, you could potentially draw a couple hundred dollars a day in ad revenue alone.
3. Link to other articles
Having a viral blog post is great, but you can only extract so much value from a single piece of content. If you hope to give the rest of your blog a boost, it’s a good strategy to link to other articles.
If you haven’t done this already, hyperlink your latest work to other good posts on your site, and include a section in the sidebar that says something like “More Popular Articles.” If you can get visitors to click through to other pages on your site, you’ll find it easier to engage them in a meaningful manner that encourages return sessions.
4. Engage people
When the clicks and shares begin to compound, it’s tempting to just sit back and watch the numbers roll up on your screen … but resist the temptation to settle for that. This is the perfect opportunity to engage serious ongoing traffic.
Make it your goal to respond to every single blog comment you receive. This might seem like a lofty challenge, but if you have everything else already in place, there’s no better way to spend your time.
This gives you a chance to keep the momentum going and direct people to other parts of your blog.
5. Try to encourage a second push
After a couple of days in the spotlight, it can feel as if every single person on the Internet has seen your post, but of course they haven’t. Wait a couple of days until traffic numbers start to level out and then purchase some Facebook ads that direct people to your most successful blog post.
Use the Lookalike Audience feature to go after new people in the same target market. In some cases, you might be able to go viral a second or third time with the same content.
6. Study and learn from analytics
When the dust settles and your 15 minutes of fame come to an end, your job hasn’t ended. Before popping open a champagne bottle and celebrating, take some time to study what happened.
You can learn a lot by reviewing your website analytics and studying traffic numbers, page views, referral sources, conversion rates, bounce rates, click-through rates, and average session time. What was the actual impact of the surge in exposure? How might you replicate it in the future?
7. Leverage your experience
Think you’ve found the key to creating viral content? Other marketers and online entrepreneurs would love to hear about your secret sauce.
You might be able to publish a blog post on a major site about it, host a webinar, or even create an entire course about developing viral content. Consider the potential to leverage this experience for additional revenue and exposure.
Make the most of the opportunity
There’s a common misconception that once it’s happened, content “virality” is easier to replicate. You can definitely learn from what’s been successful in the past, but there’s never any guarantee you’ll garner the same results again in the future.
A piece of viral content may be just one of very few opportunities your brand will ever get to enjoy widespread exposure. Make the most of the opening by responding in an appropriate manner.
If you want to get 30 effective techniques to master content marketing along with valuable insights from 10+ influencers like Mark Schaefer, Rebecca Lieb, Lee Odden, Jason Miller or Ian Cleary, download our free eBook now!