Viral. Defined as a piece of information that is circulated rapidly and widely from one web user to another. Usually, it’s a video of a pet doing something silly. Usually.
I have been chasing this for nine years now. Dreaming about one of my posts going viral. Writing certain posts with the intent of them going viral. Maybe, maybe… you never know, right?
The obvious side-effect was that there were times when I didn’t enjoy blogging as much as I should have. None of my posts reached the level of traffic that I envisioned. Blogging daily for nine years, not one of my posts has been read by a million or so people.
What did I get in return?
A few million views, well over two hundred thousand followers, thousands upon thousands of comments.
An usual day looks like this.
At the end of the month, my stats look something like this:
I know that a lot of bloggers would like to have this kind of traffic. But I’ve been too busy playing the lottery to appreciate it. Yes, you read that right. I’ve been playing the lottery for over nine years. You pay a few bucks for a ticket and somehow wish to win millions. You write a single blog post and you want a million views, a book contract, and five TV interviews. Instant fame.
We have become addicted to instant gratification. We want it now. But there’s more to this phenomenon, I think. We also lie to ourselves about the hard work that we have to put in order to get from here to there. The grind. We secretly wish that there will come a day when the grind will be over. You blog for a period of time and then that one post goes viral and you’ll never have to worry about anything ever again.
You write novels and that one novel reaches bestseller status.
You go through relationship after relationship until you finally meet your soulmate and it’s all going to be sweet and beautiful and oh, so Instagram worthy that it’s going to make people puke rainbows and unicorns.
I am kind of beginning to understand that it doesn’t work like that. None of it. Blogging, writing, love, life…
This never ends.
A bodybuilder friend of mine told me that when he first started lifting weights he thought that the muscle mass he gained would stay even if he quick working out.
I am afraid not.
You don’t use it, you lose it.
Yeah, had to write that down to make everything feels like a motivational speech of sorts.
So, basically, it never ends. And we play the lottery, and even if we won, it wouldn’t matter. But we make ourselves miserable. We fail to appreciate the simple act…
Like building a house. You dream about the way it will look when completed, that we fail to enjoy the process of laying one brick on top of the other. We sometimes fail to comprehend the importance of doing just that. How much it matters, how, if we didn’t do it, we’d never build anything.
How Do Blog Posts Go Viral?
If you want to have a successful blog, you not only need to get people to read your content (duh!) but also get them to comment on and share that content with others.
So, what will make readers want to do that?
It’s not about the facts. It’s not about the knowledge you share. It’s all about how you make your readers feel.
Want to know how to write content that goes viral?
Read on to find out.
1. Make them feel.
A fantastic blog post isn’t supposed to offer cold facts, all wrapped in beautiful formatting. No. A fantastic post is supposed to make you feel something.
I often say this, but great content tends to divide people. A viral article comforts the disturbed and disturbs the comfortable. It makes taking action inevitable.
And the process is quite simple: what makes you feel something, also makes you want to share it with others, so they can feel the same thing. Whether it’s a positive emotion or a negative one.
That’s why they say there’s no such thing as bad publicity. But there’s such a thing as curiosity, which is strong enough to make someone forget about their to-do list to read a blog post shared by someone, even though that certain someone also wrote that they hated the blogger for writing such a piece.
How do you make people feel?
- Add surprising facts and shocking data in your blog posts.
- Self-deprecating humor tends to make people laugh. It will also make people like you more.
- Tell stories about yourself that inspire, amuse, and entertain.
- Make use of strong emotions, even if they are negative. If you feel angered by something, blog about it.
- Write with empathy by providing a fail-safe in case the plan of action you propose fails, or by sharing your own struggle to gain enough competence or confidence to take action
If you want your posts to go viral make sure they have a positive outlook, even if you’re writing about a rather dark subject.
2. Tell your readers something about themselves.
You are what you eat. You also are what you read. And, definitely, you are what you share on social media.
People love to share content that tells others something about themselves. That’s why all those articles about love and zodiac signs are so popular.
Tell your readers that they are smart for reading your post. That they are uncommon. Cool. Fantastic. Amazing.
But do it in such a way that is believable, not in a way that feels like you’re trying to sell them something.
How do you do that?
- Spend some time thinking about the connection between your topic of choice and your target audience. What are the key demographic and psychographic qualities of your audience?
- Which of those qualities can you reference in order to share some unique insights into the minds of your target audience?
- Write about your target audience’s challenges and objections, making sure to deploy powerful copywriting techniques to overcome them.
3. Teach your readers something of value.
People often blogs because they have a need to fill and are searching for a solution to a certain problem they’re having.
Life hacks, guides, and list posts all fall into this category, but the trick is to be specific as to what needs to be done.
Vague means your post won’t go viral.
Ask yourself these questions next time you write such a post:
- Can my readers realistically implement the advice I am offering?
- Is it practical? Can it be done?
- Will they need to spend any money to implement my advice?
- Can I provide them examples that it has been done before?
- Does my own personal experience indicate this can actually be done?
If you use these questions as a checklist when writing your next post, it should help you add a lot of practical and immediate value to your readers.
Another thing worth mentioning: if you provide a simple and quick way to do a difficult thing, it’d better work, otherwise it’s clickbait, and it will hurt you, especially in the long run. Don’t falsely advertise a solution as magical if it requires tremendous effort and time. Be honest about the requirements.
4. Mesmerize your audience by telling them a story.
A well-told story is the closest thing to magic there is. It can illustrate a point, make your readers laugh or cry, and make your advice relatable.
A masterfully told story will show your readers you empathize with them. It’s as if you know them, their struggles, their story. And this makes them feel as if they know you.
It will cast a spell on your audience, compelling them to share it.
Here’s a few hot tips to get it right:
- Who is the hero of your story? It could be you, your reader, or someone you admire.
- If you share a personal story, keep in mind that your readers are only interested in knowing what they can learn from your experience. It’s about them, not you.
- Do not ramble. I repeat. Do not ramble.
- What’s the point of you telling that story? What are your readers going to get out of it?
5. The emotional rollercoaster.
Do you know what’s even better than making your readers feel something?
If you make them feel a bunch of things, one after the other. There’s got to be an element of surprise, of course..
The emotional rollercoaster requires that you understand the emotional undertone of your article, from its headline to its conclusion. You want to be strategic about the words you use, and how you want to make your readers feel.
Here’s a few ways you to do just that:
- Be brave. Tell it like it is, don’t sugar coat it.
- Find the most surprising or shocking statistics about your topic and write a post about that.
- Put some passion into your writing. Punch those damn keys.
- Write a post that takes a different approach to what is generally considered the truth.
Blogging can be quite confusing at times.
Is it an art?
Is it a craft?
Is it a business?
Is it a part time job? Full-time? More than that?
What exactly do you need to become a successful blogger? How many followers? How many comments?
What about SEO? Or headlines?
Networking with other bloggers? Guest blogging? Commenting on other blogs?
You get the idea.
And sometimes, because of all these things you must do, you have no idea why a blog post does not perform well.
If you think that your blog post should have gone viral but didn’t, you should remember the following:
Maybe your post lacked emotional depth.
Emotion is the key to success in the blogging world.
It’s not just the information you share with your readers, but also how that information makes your readers feel.
There’s an emotional undertone to everything you write, and this is something you should be acutely aware of.
You must know how to appeal to certain emotions: curiosity, astonishment, admiration, uncertainty, humor, or amazement.
You should make your readers feel something different as they progress through your article, and you should do it on purpose.
If you want to inspire or motivate your readers, you should first make them feel doubtful, afraid, to feel exactly what’s keeping them from achieving their goals.
Empathy is extremely important when it comes to blogging. Show your readers that you can walk (and have walked) in their shoes.
Maybe you just published your post at the wrong time.
Believe it or not, timing plays an important role in the success of a blog post.
First of all, you should know who your target audience is, which means you should know what times of day work best.
Secondly, you should be aware of international events that might interfere. If everyone on the web is reading about some celebrity or some event, odds are they won’t stop to read your post.
That’s why, if you feel that your post didn’t quite get the attention it deserved, should try to republish it after a few months, maybe even edit for clarity.
After all, that’s what I did with the most popular blog post on this blog. The first time I posted it, it got a few comments and about a hundred likes. Nothing unusual. A couple months later, I reposted it without changing a thing about it. It went viral.
This proves that timing is extremely important when it comes to the success a blog post enjoys.
Maybe you didn’t properly format your blog post.
The way you format your blog post matters a lot.
You should take into account that most readers are actually scanners. You should add subheads, bullet lists, and try to format your post in a visually appealing manner.
Break down large chunks of text with the help of images, videos, and quotes.
Doing this requires but 15 minutes of your time, but it can drastically improve your blog’s readability, while enhancing the reader experience.
And here’s an interesting bit of information:
A lot of folks will share articles even before they read the entire article (sometimes without even reading to the end after that) because they resonate with a particular paragraph or sentence. As a matter of fact, sometimes folks will share articles just because the headline is so enticing.
And formatting is the tool that allows you to do just that.
Maybe you don’t have a tribe of loyal readers yet.
The number one factor that determines a blog’s success is this:
You build a loyal following of people. They consume everything you write. They regularly engage with your content, whether it’s commenting or sharing on social media. Then you write something truly amazing. Something they resonate with. They read your words at just the right time.
And most of them share it at the same time.
That’s how your post goes viral.
You don’t need a lot of followers. A thousand extremely loyal ones are more than enough to make any blog post go viral.
The key here is to consistently and frequently produce quality content and build your loyal fanbase. You will be able to see this as your articles get more and more attention.
Then all you need is a truly remarkable piece of content, and you’ll go viral.
We dream of one of our posts going viral instead of enjoying the opportunity to write our thoughts, to reach people, to inspire, to build something, to create something that shouts “I have not lived in vain.”
We look at the numbers, and fail to realize that those numbers represent people, and that our words reached them, maybe helped them feel less lonely or gave them hope.
Blogging is quite the privilege. Here I am, writing this article at8AM on a Monday, in a small town called Otopeni, in a small country by the name of Romania.
Within the next twenty-four hours, my words will have traveled around the world, from Dubai to New Delhi, from Moscow to London.
If I get lucky, if my words resonate with people, some of those who read my words will feel inspired to write something of their own.
That’s how this thing works. This is the magic of blogging; the ability to share thoughts and ideas with people you’d never get a chance to meet otherwise.
If you obsess about the destination, you won’t enjoy the journey. And, guess what? Upon arriving at your destination, you’ll realize that it, too, has lost its importance.