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Make your Social Media Posts More Viral

By Stacey Marone on November 15, 2016

Reading Time: 12 minutes

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Going viral is on the top of the wish list of any social media marketer. Of course, it doesn’t happen to very many posts, which is why it is so desirable. No one really knows why a post on Facebook or YouTube catches on. There is no discernible pattern that means a post will go viral. There is no “magic formula” to viral marketing.

That said, some posts are more likely to go viral than others are because they have certain features or elements. A viral post just boils down to human psychology. Which types of posts resonate right now? Here are 12 ways to make your post viral in social media.

1. Motivate

It is highly unlikely that you have never seen a motivational quote or saying on your Facebook newsfeed or Instagram account. Did you ever stop to think why you have those things popping up almost daily in your networks? According to this article, people feel a psychological need to share inspirational quotes or motivational sayings. It could be guilt, to impress others, or to send a message without saying what they really mean outright. Whatever the reason, motivational sayings get shared a great number of times provided it is in the right context. Check this out:

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Source: Facebook

This currently has more than 700,000 shares, 28,000 likes, and reached more than 18 million people. Would you share something like this on your network?

Find or create a motivational saying that you think will inspire others, add an appropriate image (preferably nothing too sappy), and try posting it. You may not go viral with every post, but there is a good chance you’ll get some shares and likes.

2. Amaze

People like to be the first to share something amazing with their friends. If it challenges the norm, delivers important news, or confirms a myth, all the better. It could be facts, such as this:

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Source: YouTube

It was the story of twins born 87 days apart. That seems pretty amazing, which is why it has more than 49,000 views.

It could also be an image such as this:

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Source: Reggg.com

This image is not on social media, but if you saw something like this, wouldn’t you at least stop and see if it’s real? Would you share it? Probably.

If you do post amazing facts or images (or videos, for that matter), make sure they are legitimate. Do your research before you share it so, if it does go viral, it won’t come back to bite you and kill your credibility. How can you do this? Subscribe to high-authority news, research, and science and technology websites to get dibs on new developments you can post on your social networks.

Also, pay special attention to your headline so that you heighten the sense of surprise even more. This news article, “The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think,” has more than 400,000 shares, and you have to admit, the headline is quite intriguing, much more so than [spoiler] “Isolation is the Cause of Addiction.”

3. Zombify

People are currently fascinated by anything to do with zombies. Any post that discusses zombies tends to get a lot of attention. Vampires, mermaids, and aliens also get their share of, well, shares. The latest on the zombie trend is a new drug called Flakka, also known as the zombie drug because users start chewing on themselves or others, and appear to be incredibly strong:

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Source: YouTube

Of course, the reason zombies get attention is because they are popular. If people are talking about something then you have a better chance of going viral. However, the effectiveness of leveraging trends is only as good as its relevance and appropriateness to your brand or company. If you would rather not be associated with anything about zombies, for example, you can find another trending topic you can post about. Do a search for “trending topics on {social network} today” and take your pick.

4. Amuse

Making people laugh is always a good way to get a foot in the door and a share on social media. Studies show that humorous content outperforms any other kind of content when it comes to shares. This is because laughter reduces stress, increases energy, and creates a bonding moment for people. How often have you smiled at a stranger because you shared a funny moment?

However, you need to remember that getting a laugh and a share are not your end game in viral marketing. You also want to build brand recognition, awareness, and trust. While a funny cat photo might get you 300,000+ shares like the one below, does it contribute anything to your brand, or are you just good for a laugh?

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Source: Quickmeme.com

Hardly the type of thing you want to tell a potential client.

It isn’t that hard to find something funny or entertaining about your brand or company if you just think about it. There is always a lighter side to everything if you have the right attitude.

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Source: Digitalsynopsis.com

This type of humor sends a powerful message without being too serious about it. It’s good for a laugh AND a click.

5. Promote

Guess what? You have to share your post if you want others to do it as well. Promoting your post is the first step in going viral.  Pinterest, for example, is a good platform to promote your products.

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Source: Socialmediaexaminer.com

This company used Pinterest to share an online article from an online journal but placed a call to action right smack in the center.

This BlendTec YouTube video is a clever way to promote their product and entertain as well. However, if you don’t have the resources for anything fancy, you have to use creative means to promote your brand.

You can also use mentions of authority sites, big brands, or niche influencers to promote your post. Tag them after you’ve published the post so it will automatically show up on their social media accounts. Alternatively, you can send an email providing them with a link and informing them of the mention. Hopefully, that will motivate them to share your post.

6. Quizzes

Say what you will, but very few people can resist taking a quiz, especially one that provides (or claims to) a glimpse into your personality.

According to this article, quizzes are the most engaging type of content on Facebook, generating the most shares. People have an inherent desire to compare themselves to other people. The most popular quiz for 2014 was “Can We Guess Your Real Age?” and it got close to 6 million shares.

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Source: Playbuzz.com

There are quite a few sites that offer ready-made quizzes you can embed on your social networks, or you can create your own. It doesn’t have to be very complicated as long as it is something you wouldn’t hesitate to take yourself.

[tweetthis]Making people laugh is always a good way to get a foot in the door and a share on social media.[/tweetthis]

7. Emote

Just because you’re in business doesn’t mean you are emotionless. Showing your emotional side is always a good way to trigger a response from your audience, so don’t be afraid to post anything that has tugged at your own heart-strings.

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Source: Humorsharing.com

Does it just make you go “awwww…”? This is definitely a picture worth sharing.

8. Advocate

One of the things that can send your post viral is to use it to deliver a message about what you represent. People have become more socially conscious, and are more likely to share anything you post that refers to a social issue.

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Source: YouTube

This post got more than 13 million views and more than 32,000 shares, even though this isn’t even President Obama, but impersonator Reggie Brown. Or maybe that’s why? Who knows. The point is, it was for a good cause, and people were interested. If there is a cause you want to champion, by all means, post about it.

9. Warn

They say bad news travel fast, and no more so than on social media. This has its good side, and its bad side, but you can be sure that warning people about something you know that can affect them in any way will spread like wildfire. Twitter is especially useful for this, so much so that government agencies use it.

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Source: FEMA

However, you need to act responsibly when using social media to deliver warning messages to your audience. There are a lot of scam messages out there you could inadvertently spread if you’re not careful. IT attacks or social media changes are especially prone to this. Verify before you spread someone else’s message.

[tweetthis]Verify before you spread someone else’s message.[/tweetthis]

10. Hashtag

Do you long to reach people that are not on any of your networks, thrice removed? The answer is to use hashtags, which will let anyone who uses or searches your hashtag view your post and potentially share it.

Hashtags began on Twitter, but it has spread like a virus to the top social networks such as Facebook, Google+ and Instagram. Using hashtags doubles your engagement on Twitter and Instagram, which usually means shares as well.

However, that is not true of Facebook, where actually reduces reach. You need to learn more about using hashtags for different platforms to make sure you’re not sabotaging your own efforts.

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Source: Edgerankchecker.com

11. Inform

There is an ongoing debate on the short form vs long form content in marketing, and advocates for either make a compelling case. However, when it comes to shares on Facebook, posts linking to articles between 2,000 and 2,500 words get 15% more shares than shorter or longer articles.

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Source: Kissmetrics.com

LinkedIn goes even longer, getting more shares for with articles between 3,500 to 4,000 words long. The difference in length may lie in the nature of the interactions between members, where LinkedIn tends to be more professional than personal.

The reason for the success of long-form content in terms of social media sharing is that people want to know, and they want details. It is hard to get in the most important point on a topic in less than 500 words, or even 1,000 words.

If you want your post to go viral, you need to step up your game when it comes to delivering informative content by giving your audience a factual and/or comprehensive piece. Providing a wealth of detail can increase trust and credibility, which means the next time you post something you are more likely to get the shares you want.

12. Reminisce

People may be impatient to get the latest smartphones or other gadgets to go on sale, but they love to look blasts from their pasts. You might be familiar with Throwback Thursdays on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Baby pictures, old movies, and fashions from a bygone era is always good for a laugh as well as a twinge of longing for simpler times.

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Source: Instagram

You can cash in on this sentimentality by linking your brand or product with something in the past of your target audience and invite their comments. Of course, you need to choose videos or images that are relevant and will evoke a positive response from your audience.

Viral marketing is not an exact science, and nobody really knows what will trigger an epidemic because people are can be unpredictable in that sense. Many of the things that work for some campaigns will not work for others, while some post will go viral spontaneously without any planning at all.

It can be frustrating, but it is also a fascinating look into human psychology. As a marketer, however, the best thing you can do is to follow some basic rules, and then wing it. Just keep plugging away at it until you find something that works for your brand or company.

Stacey Marone guides the digital marketing department at Essay Scholaradvisor (Marone Marketing.) She has vast experience in content writing and is a skilled and patient manager that ensures her organization’s work is flawless every time. Her passions also involve painting, reading, and singing. You can follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

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