Monthly Archives: June 2009

Eight Steps to Creating Viral Content

Creating content that goes viral is the holy grail for marketers.  But why do some ideas flop and others spread like wild fire?  Follow these steps and improve your ability to make your content viral.

1) Find an interested audience.
For content to become viral, an interested audience must be able to find it. Social media is a great channel for content to get found, but don’t forget that a good SEO optimization of your content and building an audience with other useful content and tools will be a baseline to achieve before you can give your content the best opportunity to go viral. Expand your content’s reach by posting a teaser or a complete version of it on an industry site or searching for relevant articles to comment on that your audience will see and find the content you create relevant.  In short, you need to find a targeted audience for your content to flourish.

2)  Provide valuable content.
If what your offering isn’t useful, then it won’t be a viral hit.  Bring something to the table that your audience values and you’ll cross the minimum bar of getting the content in the hands of someone who might consider sharing it with others who’ll find it useful too.  Content must be valued by an audience before it’s shared by it.

3)  Allow your content to be easily shared.
Identify how your audience shares content and make it easy for them to share it the way they want to share it.  If you want to offer an ebook, slap a creative commons license on it and make it freely available to everyone to share however they want.  Consider embedding a hyperlinked share button or link to Twitter that spawns a tweet sharing the e-book in a couple of mouse clicks.  Links to social bookmarking sites through tools like ShareThis are an easy way to enable your content to be shared how interested consumers of your content want to share it.

Statistics show that email is still the most popular way people are share things online so don’t forget to include the ability for your audience to share content via email.  If your most interested audience includes executives that aren’t as computer happy, make your content easy to print out or requested to be sent by mail.  In short, make it easy for people to share your content the way they want to share it.

4)  Create relevant and original content.
Nothing inspires someone to share something with others than the spark of inspiration that a novel idea or resource that’s fresh and useful can produce.  Recycling a viral hit won’t have the same impact as the original unless you cater to a different audience and put an original spin on it.  Create unique, useful content and people will take notice and create buzz about it.

5)  Make your content pretty.
The last thing people want to read is a white paper without any formatting.  How boring!  Spice up your content with a clean layout and eye-catching visuals.  For example, use different fonts, colors, text sizes, and call out boxes for the key components of the content.  If you can layout content using the landscape view you’ll really open up your options for how the content is presented.  A good looking piece of content makes great content even better content and increases the likelihood it will be shared.

6)  Embrace social media channels.
Social media platforms like Twitter are designed for content to go viral.  This is really where marketing technique can come into play.  Ideally, you’ve identified where your audience is and if they are on social media channels, your potential for making content viral will increase tenfold.  Tweet about your content and encourage others who liked it to share it through there network.  Good content on social media channels spread fast, use them to make your content viral.

7 )  Connect with influencers.
While most internet users are passive readers that aren’t likely to engage or share content with others, influencers will create the word of mouth of your content to help it go viral. The right influencers have the ear of your target audience.  If your content is useful to them, their followers in your target audience will liekly follow suit and help spread your content to other interested parties.  Develop relationships based on value and influencers can help your content go viral within the circles you covet.

8)  Don’t get discouraged, try again and continue to offer new useful content
For every viral content hit, there are hundreds of would be hits that don’t pan out.  If there was a tried and true formula to identify pieces of content destined to be viral, that content would likely already exist.  That said, if you create enough useful, creative, original pieces of content that are valued by your target audience, you are bound to find a hit that will be well worth your investment in your content creation and delivery. And even if it doesn’t hit, your efforts should help your SEO and increase targeted traffic to your website.  Bottomline: Don’t get discouraged, keep creating content and attain viral marketing success!

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Social Media Tool from StumbleUpon is Su.pr

Tim Ferris of 4-Hour-Work-Week fame has been collaborating with StumbleUpon (a favorite time suck pastime of mine) to create a new social media management tool, Su.pr.

StumbleUpon Toolbar
Image via Wikipedia

From the looks of it, we are in for a real treat.  Su.pr promises to save you lots of time in your social media management routine and help improve your traffic too!

Tim Ferriss points out how in this StumbleUpon juiced blog post.  Here’s why he thinks Su.pr could become the hub of your social media empire.

Prior to SU.PR (pronounced “super”), I had to use ping.fm for updating Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn at the same time, bit.ly for basic analytics like click-through, scattered tools for viewing retweets, and nothing allowed me to schedule tweets well.

It was all a serious pain in the ass.

Enter Su.pr, which allows him to:

– Get suggestions for optimal posting times: get more traffic per post
– Schedule as many tweets or posts as I want, for any time
– See my click-throughs in real-time
– Post to Twitter and Facebook at the same time, with more platforms in the pipeline
– Use my own short URL (i.e. http://www.fourhourblog.com/ab123) instead of someone else’s branding

This is all really great stuff that will save a ton of time for social media content developers and publishers.  It remains to be seen whether the traffic for content improves, but the analytics that are included in Su.pr are what really get me geeked about trying it out.

The built-in analytics make this tool especially sweet for marketers not already using bit.ly.  Deploying measurable social media content should help improve your case for including more social media investments in your organization.

Now it’s just a matter of when this service will be available to everyone.  In the meantime, follow the StumbleUpon Twitter profile and keep your eye out for a claim code tweet for your own Su.pr account.
UPDATE:
After trying it out, Su.pr while potentially great for the reasons listed above, has framing issues that some might remember from the Digg toolbar.  This framing issue wreaks havoc on getting accurate analytics and can be a real pain to use when comparing traffic from non-Su.pr visits.  Another issue I’ve had is with the scheduled Twitter posting being significantly delayed. 

What do you think?  Is Su.pr going to change the way you manage your social media content?

Technology Marketers Should Follow Digg’s Lead

Digg announced it’s plans for a new advertising platform today.

Digg Ads will provide it’s advertisers a pricing structure that is dependent on how well their ads are received by their audience.

digg-logoThe more an ad is Dugg, the less the advertiser will have to pay. Conversely the more an ad is buried, the more the advertiser is charged, pricing it out of the system.

In other words, place relevant ads that link to content Digg users are likely to Digg and pay less. This will be great for improving ad quality on Digg, but what I really like is how Digg is using it’s own technology to make this platform go.

Too many times I’ve come across online businesses that don’t use the products they develop or sell. At the very least share examples or case studies of your tool being used by your customers. If you aren’t doing this, alarms go off in my head and I quickly click the ‘Back’ button in my browser to find a more suitable solution.

Marketers of software and technology products and services should take note. Use what you sell in your own business. Show your tool in action.

This should build trust in your product and help prove that it can accomplish what it claims. There may even be an opportunity to use your tool in unique way. The use of Digg’s technology with Digg Ads is something that can be duplicated with many other tools on the web. At a minimum, use demos or webinars to prove your tool can solve your customers’ problems.

Consultants should apply this rule too. If you are a social media expert, then you should obviously be using social media tools in your own web strategy whenever possible. Seeing is believing. Show clients that you not only talk the talk, but you also walk the walk.