Virality is the concept of creating something that is capable of being spread rapidly and efficiently across various networks, to the point of becoming something almost ‘viral’. It’s a term that has become common in the digital age, as we’re able to share things like videos, images and news stories with amazing speed.
However, there’s much more to achieving virality then simply posting something online. There are certain factors within a piece of content, a message or a post which make it more likely to be shared and spread across the web. In this guide, we’ll walk through the general principles of virality and then look at some of the best practices for achieving it.
The Basics of Virality
For something to become viral, it must be psychologically appealing to both the person sharing it, and later, to the people who come across it. It’s easy to forget this. Virality isn’t just a case of creating something interesting, it needs to be interesting to others as well.
In addition to this, something that is shared widely must be easily understood and easy to process. People won’t spread something complicated as they want it to be easily transferable to their friends and followers.
In essence, these two qualities – psychological appeal and simplicity – are what makes something viral. However, they’re also just the starting point.
The Principles of Virality
In order to really make something ‘go viral’ you can’t just rely on those two factors of psychological appeal and simplicity. There are many other components which play a role in enabling people to engage with and spread your message.
Provide Value: A lot of successful virality is about giving people something of value, that can help to improve their lives in some way. People will often be far more likely to share something which provides a benefit for them or for their friends.
Uniqueness: Making sure that your message or piece of content stands out from the crowd is a major factor in securing shares and buzz. People have short attention spans and they’re constantly being bombarded with the same types of messages over and over. If you can make your message really stand out and make an impression, people will remember it much more easily and are more likely to pass it on.
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Timely & Relevant: Making sure your message or content is timely means that more people are likely to be able to relate to it. This ties into the idea of uniqueness; being topical and up-to-date is far more likely to make an impact on people who might see it. And as a result, they’re more likely to share it.
Sense of Community: Finally, one of the key ingredients for a successful virality campaign is to foster a sense of community around your message. People who feel like they’re part of a shared community or experience are far more likely to share the message with others, and to pass it on.
Best Practices for Achieving Virality
Knowing what factors contribute to a successful piece of content is one thing; putting it into practice is another. To make sure your campaigns are successful, here are a few practical tips for achieving virality:
Understand Your Audience: If you understand the type of content that appeals to your audience, then you’ll know what words, messages and images are likely to work. Make sure you receive feedback, understand what resonates with people and tailor your content accordingly.
Be Creative & Engaging: As we mentioned above, standing out from the crowd is vital when it comes to securing shares. Make sure that you’re writing headlines and imagery that are attention-grabbing; be creative and don’t be afraid to take risks.
Make It Easy to Share: Make sure you’re using easily shareable formats, such as images and videos which can be easily embedded into web pages and social media posts. You should also include share buttons and encourage people to spread your message.
Optimise for Sharing: One way to increase the chances of your message being shared is to maximize its exposure. You can do this by optimizing the layout of your content for social sharing, for example by increasing the exposure of your text or images in a way that’s likely to be seen by more people.
Experiment & Test: Finally, make sure you’re testing, experimenting and refining your content to make sure it’s getting the maximum reach. Try different things and collect the data, so you can get a better understanding of exactly what it is that resonates with people.