In our day and age, the currency is attention. The one with the most attention can profit from it significantly. TikTok being a prime example, with young people getting so much attention to their names that it is life-changing.
We have all been on the internet for most of our lives, and inevitably we had to ask ourselves a question – why is this viral and this is not. Sometimes we are left to wonder how this could be relatable to so many people. Why is this person with so much talent unnoticed but this simple video is getting so much attention?
Virality is like alchemy. You can not treat it like a science. Most of the viral videos appeared randomly, creators were not expecting them to be so successful. But there are some common denominators. In this post, we will be talking about those denominators. We are all just humans (as the saying goes) so the tips below work for all the market segments, be it B2C or B2B – because when something is viral, everybody knows it.
Too obvious right? The Internet is full of videos of people trying to look natural by doing something completely against every inch of their bodies. You can see it, I can see it.
Once in a while, there is a creator who is genuine about his feelings and just shows who he is (possibly with a slight hint of dramatization).
Not everyone may remember the Five Guys review by Daym Drops, which was released in 2012.
It is just a passionate video about a guy enjoying a burger in his car. The results are the following:
- It received several million views (which in 2012 was quite a big deal), now stands at 10 mil views.
- There is a musical remix to the video (which now clocks at 40 mil views)
- The video is used as presentation material for new employees of Five Guys (according to employees in the comment section)
- Daym Drops channel has over 1,3mil subscribers.
- His videos became so popular that his media presence began to interest many brands, in 2013 he was discussing his own TV show and recently he was hired by Burger King to make a couple of promotions.
Daym Drops (and many others) are proof that a genuine approach may create a virality in which you become interesting for B2B as media agencies are on constant outlook for new ways of promotion (as you will see in the example later in this post).
It is difficult to be genuine. If you look at most of the creators and compare their content five years ago and now, you will notice how their character changed.
Know Your Audience
Any marketer will tell you – sure, I know my audience. But is that so? While it may seem like a silly exercise, create an avatar. Put in writing on paper the type of people you want to talk to. Who are the main recipients of your content?
After you did this exercise, usually two things will happen:
- You will stop doing a portion of your marketing as you will now realize that your audience is not there.
- You will start using new marketing platforms as now you will know where your audience is.
If there is a possibility to do so, give the same task to your colleague. The main idea is to prevent any kind of personal bias or subjective thinking. It is hard to acknowledge that the $x,xxx budget you spent on XY promotion was pointless, as your audience is just not there. So instead of justifying your previous mistakes with a “know you audience” exercise – make sure to be truthful.
To limit any personal influence on the final result, you may outsource this task to third party tools. What works well for assessment of your audience are survey tools. Let your audience fill out the information about themselves. You do not need a huge sample to know where you stand.
Treat this responsibly. It is easy to drift away from your core market when you are sitting “isolated” in front of the PC. Knowing your counterparty will pay off many times over.
In the B2B segment, the “client avatar” is a basic thing that has definitely been done. But in big structures, the change sometimes takes time and the client changes along with his/her avatar. So the constant update of this client projection is needed.
Create “Immediate Satisfaction” Content
This is quite controversial for me. I will not put names but many content creators are putting various “positivity” videos on the internet.
Lately, it became increasingly popular to create a video where one of the following themes happens:
- Underdog comes back to his boss 5 years later in a Ferrari.
- A failure guy gets rejected just to meet his earlier love when he is successful.
- The worker is treated unfairly by a rich person, later in the video, he is the boss of that person.
You get the main idea. While I personally am not a fan of this type of content, many people seem to be – because it works incredibly well in terms of reach.
Here are few snips of one of such channels, this is just Facebook (10m+ followers):
Here is another example of a different creator from Youtube (2m+ subscribers on Youtube):
To compare, here are videos of Pewdiepie (106m+ Subscribers on Youtube)
Even if you go to older videos the vast majority of them will have around 5m views.
So a channel with 2m subscribers gets 10m+ views on each video, while a channel with 106m subscribers gets 5m views on average. Here we can see that the views on Pewdiepie videos are just from his subs (or a fraction of them) while views on the “Positivity” channel come from shares and virality…
But why are they viral? Because they give immediate satisfaction.
The viewer watches a 4-minute video, where the person is treated badly for 2 minutes and is being successful for another 2 minutes. The previous failures are now teaching all their wrongdoers a lesson. It gives you this instant inflow of endorphin that makes people share it again and again.
The videos have no controversy or negativity in them, meaning you can share them without any limitations.
For the B2B this brings a great opportunity to curate. This type of content is very easily shareable, and can emphasize the positive image of the brand. Just make sure that you thoroughly analyze the source and the content before putting your name behind it.
Most of us are struggling with some kind of a life situation. These videos cater to these feelings, giving an illusionary satisfaction and that is one the key point in how to go viral.
Connect on Emotional Level, Story Telling
Make sure that you connect with your audience, it is not so hard. We all want to be loved, we all want to be healthy and successful. That is pretty much it. There is another common denominator to our personalities – we are all insecure about something.
It is always hard for a corporate brand to go viral, as it is not “cool” to share it. But DOVE achieved something of that sort.
- Who is the majority of the DOVE audience? Women, predictably middle aged.
- What is their insecurity? Aging, losing their charm.
- What DOVE does? Create a video (part of their campaign) that says “You are too hard on yourself, people think you are really pretty!”
The pattern repeats itself – immediate satisfaction (but in this case a positive one), positive message, easily shareable.
Need more data to get on board and look for the more emotional content?
Source: OneSpot The Science of Storytelling
What you can see above is a part of an infographic, explaining how B2B brands are pushing to make an emotional connection with their audience to cut through all the “information humming” that we are bombarded with each day.
Emotional content is usually based on story telling. Something that we can relate with, this picture shows that the success of storytelling is not based on luck, but actual parts of the human brain reacting to various inputs.
There is science behind it, we can’t help it.
Create “Easy to Digest” Content
For content to get viral, it must be very easy to absorb. This post will never go viral, it will have over 1000 words and you must give some thoughts to drive conclusions.
Memes on the other hand would be an example of extremely easy to digest type of content. That is why Instagram theme pages on memes are growing. It is quick fun that you can share with friends.
It is always difficult to pack a whole message into a 10-second video, 1 phrase, or 1 pictures. But this is what in many cases separates viral from just good content.
The attention span was already very short, and it is getting even shorter. That can not come as a surprise when we are bombarded with so much information from all the angels.
In content curation that is a very important aspect, as your goal is to keep the visitors attention as much as possible, which is becoming increasingly difficult.
Ever wondered why Vine, Musically, Tiktok are so “addictive” – because they hold your attention with fast paced changes.
Not only this, but in B2B you should also strive for simplicity. Nobody has time nowadays for deep analysis. You can win a lot of points by parenting something that is shorter and more coherent matter than your competitor.
Use “How To” Strategy (semi-Viral)
This will not bring you Charlie D’Amelio’s level of virality, but this type of content is highly shareable and can be replicated again and again.
“How to” is one of the most popular search terms on the internet. So if you are looking to create a longer piece of content that would go viral (or semi-viral) using the How To strategy might be a way to go. Keep in mind the previous tips though. It can not be a How-To guide on something difficult rather an easy and searched for topic like how to download Youtube videos. But you noticed that for example things like “How to cook” something work very well.
Do not believe me? Check Pinterest’s top accounts. Most of them (with over 10mil views a month) are about food and recipes.
This strategy also works well in B2B as it nicely correlates with the previous point about the Ease of use. How To content can be leveraged in the B2B communication as it provides a quick explanation to a (usually) difficult question. This explanation can be further shared with clients and colleagues, further increasing the vitality even in the B2B space.
Inspiration Content Works
As we discussed above, one of the tips on how to go viral is to align with the emotions of the viewers – and people like to get inspired. Whatever platform you click if you search for inspiration, quotes, motivation, etc. – you will always find higher than average engagement rates.
Even on my site the top shared posts are about leadership qualities and inspirational quotes. I would like to add that both of them are content-heavy – nearly a wall of text. But people like to share it, because again – it helps them feel better, it connects with them and it is neutral. Meaning that it is easy to share.
Also, adding pictures like these:
Helps the shareability. Nobody wants to share a wall of text, so (as we ve said in the earlier parts) making the content easy to digest will do a lot for its potential virality.
How To Go Viral With Giveaways
Contests and giveaways are always a sure way to attract attention. It can range from something easy “the winner has to subscribe to all my social media” to some more sophisticated strategies.
To give you an idea of what is possible, here is a referral contest case study with very surprising results. It shows that with a small budget and a good idea you can get tens of thousands of shares and followers, just for one giveaway.
Rather than thinking about viral concepts, you can let your audience do the heavy lifting for you. What matters here is the idea (if it meets the interest of your audience) and its execution.
In the B2B space, the giveaways can work in a very similar manner, it will just be the audience that will differ and the actual prize. While for the end customer it may be a piece of tech or a home appliance, for B2B it would rather be a free trial of a SaaS for the whole team or something of that source. As the number of B2B participants is much lower than with the end consumer, you can give your giveaway an additional spin inviting all to a webinar platform for a presentation explaining the whole process.
Giving your audience something so interesting that they will be prepared to share your content with their friends, will get you that virality.
I said that virality is like alchemy. Well, virality with giveaways is a bit closer to science. Sure, you never know what will work and what not – but you can have a systematized approach to the task.
Get Viral With Lists, Roundups, Checklists and Infographics
Creating a checklist is very easy, and can bring significant traffic to your site. It is a material (or page) that is helpful and you need repeatedly.
For example, I frequently use this on page SEO checklist and since it’s constantly updated starting from 08/2019 – I supposed many others do too. While this is far from a classic viral content it is very useful, so I saved it and revisited frequently.
Basic lists work well too. The main angle here is to make things as comfortable as possible for your users.
The premise for the virality is that not only will people save your list for later use, but they will share it with their network. By sharing something of value you can raise your social reputation, you found something that is valuable and now you are sharing it with others. You get the rep, while the content creator did all the work, so people share.
Great things about lists is that they can range from very niche ones, shared just in very specialized groups of people like SEO tools list. This way you can even go mini-viral if your audience is as narrow as digital marketers.
This has endless applications in B2B. The SEO tools list example is a good example but you can replicate this approach to anything. List of PR agencies, 5 Statistical Analysis of Mortgage Market etc. if you can make the life of an employee at a target company easier – it will work.
Instead of wiring your own list you can go with a roundup content. This particular example is created for a much wider audience – keto desserts.
In a way this blog curated the content from other bloggers, and shared it – getting 110k shares (most of them from Pinterest, as this topic perfectly matches the Pinterest main audience).
The post is just 12 pictures from other blogs, two sentences to each picture and link to the original recipe blogger.
The interesting thing is, that if you go to each of the recipe links, the blogger that did the recipe is around 10k shares, but the blogger who curated the content and created the roundup got 110k.
Sure, there are many forces here at play but Pinterest is a pretty leveled field. Meaning that the viral potential of 12 Keto Desserts is much bigger than of Keto Pumpkin Cake…
In both cases (SEO tools list and Keto Desserts roundup) the logic is the same, a group of people interested in this content will save it and share it to gain reputation in their social circle.
Re-Engage Your Audience with Change and Unexpected Twists
Things are funny and engaging when there is an unexpected twist. This is why you may see that a lot of viral videos seem to jump from one thing to another in a quick sequence.
A good example would be Dollar Shave Club (the founder sold the company after 5 years for billion-dollar valuation):
From more known brands you have of course the Old Spice Man
Have you ever wondered why most music clips scenery changes every 3 seconds? It is to keep the viewer engaged.
The same strategy applies for this content. The creator keeps you guessing what is next, even if you are not planning to buy a shaving set or an Old Spice product – you will still watch it until the end.
Content That Does Not Make Sense or Is Just Funny
In the beginning, I’ve stated that virality is like alchemy. Well in this case this tip is like winning a lottery. But still, it is worth mentioning as it is out there and working well.
Memes are a good example of content that does not make sense. The main thing is that you do not have to think about it, you just look at it and you like it or not.
In some areas of B2B it is quite easy to create silly content that will have a positive impact on the brand. The risks here are bigger though so tread carefully. Here is an example of a meme from a page of a company that does SaaS data protection, based on their products, the majority of the clientele will be B2B.
While it is hard to imagine that Bank Of America would start communicating in funny pictures or memes, this is a strategy that can work for many B2Bs.
Promote Your Content
Let’s assume you created content that has a significant virality potential. But it will never take off the ground if nobody will see it.
A lot of viral videos did not intend to be viral, so they can sit on the shelf waiting for Youtube algorithms to discover them. That is not our case, we need results as soon as possible.
Think of a bigger picture in terms of promotion. You will not get viral with paid ads on Google. A good way to go is to leverage various influencers. It is possible to get a promotion and shoutouts for a good price while targeting the audience that matches yours as much as possible.
You may have noticed that Warner Music Group paid $85 mil for an Instagram Meme theme page. Why did they do it? Read a bit more about Lil Nas X story about his viral sensation “Old Town Road”.
He was unknown, until he / his team started to push the song to memes and TikTok, now it became one of the most known hits worldwide.
Warner Music Group is leveraging the same strategy. You get a talented creator, you push his content into memes (therefore the acquisition of Daquan Instagram page), that will later transform into user generated content – and voila, your record is number 1 on charts.
With this acquisition, Warner is establishing its footprint in telling the audience what will be trendy and what not.
That being said – outreach matters. One of the good ways to give you potentially viral content a solid push is to step up your strategy of influencer contacts. First of all influencers are not only Instagram accounts, it is much more. Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, Websites, Youtubers.
We are talking about hundreds of contacts. While you can compile the list of contacts manually (that way you will be sure that the quality of the emails list is good). But from there you really need to engage some outreach tactics to get volume. You want results today (or better yet yesterday) not in 2 month when you will personally contact each of the influencers.
If you have not collected emails before, start today. Email marketing is one the key elements of successful outreach automation, so make sure you know what is email marketing before you start pushing your content.
Content with images and thumbnail will always have more shares. Make sure to include a powerful and catchy image in your content.
Pay attention so that the image ads to your viral content. So just some themed stock pictures are not an option here.
The image has to evoke many of the feelings that we discussed in the earlier points and will be the first (and possibly the only) thing that the user will see.
You might remember the dress discussion in 2015:
The virality was through the roof. Everybody was discussing it. You could write “Dress is White” or “Dress is Blue” and get a heated discussion as nobody could agree on it.
This is a great opportunity for curated content, because you get the attention, shares and engagement. On the other hand, nobody remembers which company sold the dress. While “Young Yoda” from Star Wars is both shared and helpful to the franchise.
The point here is that the used image should assist you in reaching the goal you are after. So choose the image carefully.
How To Curate Viral Content?
We covered all the (known) aspects of what makes content go viral. Now let’s have a look at how we can leverage it for our advantage.
The easiest way to leverage the viral content of somebody else is to curate it.
Predict the trend.
If virality is alchemy, this is pure magic. But with a trained eye you can increase your success rate.
When curating content, see if that content checks any/all of the boxes from the earlier points in this post.
While predicting Bella Poarch virality is impossible, assuming that “Homemade pumpkin spice latte” will get traction during fall is a no-brainer.
Spot the trend.
Here we can do some good old analytical work. When searching for ideas that you could curate. There are several tools that are available to give you some inspiration.
This Google function gives you a quick and easy review of the most trending topics and can become a valuable tool when looking for popular content to curate.
Pinterest trend function will allow you to actually spot the growing trend. So you can start curating in that niche before it hits its highest point.
Keep in mind that some of the topics are relevant for Pinterest, so take it into consideration when curating.
Youtube trending section can provide you with ideas in every possible niche.
There are more sources where you can find trends to further research, but these ones are the most versatile ones.
Follow the trend.
When you have spotted a couple of topics that could have a shot at becoming viral (or more viral than they are not) it is time to dig deeper.
Google alerts is an easy place to start.
You can put in a punch of topics that worked well for you in the past or that you discovered recently. This is also a good way to keep the seasonality trends in check.
Alternatively you may use a brand and names monitoring service. Predominantly these types of tools are used by companies to monitor how their brand is mentioned on social media or other media. In our case it can be used as a tool to curate the content when we spot the topic (that is based on a particular company or name).
Curate Content From Several Angles
When you spot a trend, make sure to curate various content types on that topic. If you curate just one point of view, it may not get the traction you are looking for, so make sure you are getting some variety in.
Virality is hard to predict, but it does not mean that you can not strive to achieve it. In this post, we went through many aspects of what influences the virality of the content.
For some, virality was a matter of one piece of content. But in many cases, if they were not able to recreate that success the attention on them evaporated.
So the secret for virality is the same as for anything worth striving for – commitment.