How To Make Your Business Go Viral

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Just about every business out there dreams about going viral, of having your business or product in front of thousands or millions of people.

All it takes is one viral video or another piece of content to put you on the map. This increased visibility results in more brand awareness and even sales.

So, how can you make your business go viral?

1. Understand Viral Content

One of the most accessible ways that a business can go viral is by producing a viral piece of content (a blog post or video, for example). But, in order to do that, you have to understand what makes content go viral in the first place.

In order to do that, allow us to take a minute to take a look at one of the biggest studies ever conducted on the topic of viral content: a study conducted by Buzzsumo of 100 million articles.

Buzzsumo conducted their own research in order to see what the most shared content had in common.

So, what did they find?

First of all, and perhaps unsurprisingly  Buzzsumo found that viral content is not the norm. This was true for even the most viral of sites on the Internet, including Buzzfeed and the New York Times. Buzzsumo ultimately concluded there isn’t a formula for creating viral content.

This makes sense; if everyone could simply follow a recipe and whip up a viral video, everyone would be doing it.

Especially Jamie Oliver or Rachael Ray.

That said, there are some things that the most shared or engaging content had in common according to their research.

  • It surprises people with facts and/or images in combination with provocative titles and a scannable format
  • Is often has to do with a trendy or popular topic (zombies are particularly popular)
  • Inspirational quotes in a list format that can also be scanned easily (Buzzfeed does this well) often goes viral
  • Beautiful picture listicles have a lot of viral potential
  • Viral content often features cute animals and babies (this is no surprise)
  • Is amusing or entertaining
  • Can be controversial
  • Quizzes have a lot of viral potential (especially quizzes where people can learn something about themselves)
  • It provides warnings (for example, warnings about scams)
  • Shares secrets of success
  • Health and fitness tips, love and dating secrets or secrets to a long life
  • Heartwarming stories

One way that you can increase the viral potential of your business, then, is to incorporate some of the above elements into your content.

Sure, you have to spend time creating content that matters to your target audience, but if you truly want to reach viral potential, you also have to think about your content through a viral lens.

Instead of another run-of-the-mill blog post, what about trying an entertaining piece of content instead?

In addition to this, also important to boost your content by way of maximizing your sharing potential and even investing in paid ads, as you will see below.

2. Maximize Social Sharing

We have no doubt that you are likely sharing your content with your followers on your social media accounts. This is certainly a good start, but you can also do a lot more to increase the number of eyeballs that see your content. Here are a few examples:

  • If you mention a brand in your blog post, tag or mention them when you share the post on social media
  • Leverage guest blogging
  • Incentivize sharing (Dropbox is a great example of this; they incentivized their users to spread the word about their product by offering additional storage if you referred their service to friends and families)

3. Make Use of Paid Ads

Once you have your content created, you can’t just necessarily sit back and expect your piece of content to take off. Instead, you want to drive additional traffic to your piece of content with paid ads.

Businesses, both large and small, have numerous options that they can take advantage of. You can boost a post on Facebook; you can make use of StumbleUpon or make Twitter paid ads. This gives you the traction that businesses need.

4. Tap Into Emotions

Again, it comes as no surprise that there are strong emotional undertones in the types of content that go viral.

Research analyzed the most shared New York Times’ articles and what did they find? That content that creates feelings of awe, anger or anxiety was shared the most.

While businesses will want to stay away from anger and anxiety, the point is emotional content is what gets shared the most.

We’ve talked about lessons that startups can learn from big brands, and one is the power of emotional advertising.

One way to spread your message to a large number of people is by tapping into emotional intent.

Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches campaign, in which an artist sketched women based on their own descriptions and then drew sketches based on how other people saw them, is a great example of a highly emotional video.

The sketches that were drawn by the other people ended up being much more flattering and highlighted the lack of confidence that many women have.


This is an emotional and powerful message and resonated with many women.

Today, that video has 67,862,396 views on YouTube.

One of the top rated comments on that video is that “I still cry every time I watch this.”

5. With the Right Product

Believe it or not, but certain products don’t just become viral out of nowhere. There’s actually a certain science behind it.

In the book Contagious: Why Things Catch On, Jonah Berger says that there are six factors of why products catch on – factors that all businesses can take advantage of. Even better, you don’t need a large advertising budget to be able to do it either.

Here are some insights from his research:

  • Tap Into The Psychology of People. Customers are drawn to products that make them feel as though they are ahead of the curve.
  • Become Part of Their Everyday Lives. Products that catch on are products or services that people end up becoming part of their everyday lives. Every business can tap into this by sending reminders to nudge them toward using their product on the daily. Social media platforms, from Facebook to Instagram, do this well.
  • Emotional Connection. At this point, you know that an emotional connection is a key component of everything that ends up going viral. The same is true for products or services. It doesn’t mean that your product needs to make someone laugh or cry, but it needs to stir some sort of emotion inside them.
  • Practicality. Products or services that catch on are also practical in some way. People tend to tell others about and recommend products and services that are practical in some way.
  • Have a Story. Products that catch on are ones that have a story. Tom Shoes is a great example of a product/business with a story. For every pair of shoes sold, one pair is donated.
  • A Distinct Quality. Lastly, products or services that catch on tend to have a distinctive quality or feature that makes it different from the rest. They stand out. This could be accomplished in any number of ways; it could be with colour, a logo and so on.

6. Target the Right People

Whether you are trying to produce a blog post or a marketing campaign, it’s important to know your audience. Knowing your target demographic allows you to craft a piece of content or campaign in a way that your target audience connects with.

A great example of this is Coke’s Share a Coke” campaign, which ended up in a 2% increase in sales for Coke. It also became a global trending topic, resulted in more than 500,000 photos and 25 million Facebook followers.

It was not only one of Coke’s most successful campaigns, but it’s still talked about, even years later.

You can likely remember when they swapped their iconic logo with the names of people instead, encouraging people to buy a personalized bottle of coke for their friends and family.

Part of the reason why this campaign was so successful was because it targeted the right people in a way that resonated with that particular demographic.

Coke targeted teens and millennials and leveraged the idea of friendship. Not only did they encourage teens and millennials to share their photos on social media (they knew their target audience well), but it wasn’t about sharing a coke; it was about connecting with your best friend.

In short, Coke tapped into an emotional message that its target audience connected with.

The Bottom Line

Viral content is not the norm, but businesses can certainly work toward it. Whether you make use of video marketing or an ad campaign, tap into emotions and target the right people. Lastly, maximize social sharing and boost traffic even further through paid ads.

Yocale is the top scheduling software on the market today. We also offer a free suite of business management and marketing tools. For more information, click here.

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