There are hundreds of content that you come across daily on your social media feed, right.? Why do you open some articles or play some videos, while scroll past the rest?
For starters, you might think that it is all about a chance factor. But will you believe me, if I say that there is a set of tactical practices which influences you to take a certain action? Trust me, even the content that you share with your friends can be programmed in a way to succeed.
While we will get into the theory in details, let’s look at some key points:
1. The featured image is the first thing that you notice. Hence, it makes a lot of sense to have a really interesting featured image.
2. Next, is the headline of the article or the caption of the video is what you see and your brain decides whether or not you would like to spend more time on it or not by seeing the whole thing. So the title is, of course, a very important factor in making any content viral.
3. The third important factor is the nature of the content or the category that it falls under. Now unlike traditional categories of content such as education, humour, lifestyle viral content is programmed to fit into one or more of these three groups: Identity, Utility and Emotion
Let’s take a look into those in details.
This kind of content is concerned with who a person is, or at least who they believe, they are. Coming across these ‘relatable’ memes, videos, articles, helps us realise our behaviours, our character, our traits. It helps us Articulate who we are, better than ourselves. Sharing this kind of content helps us establish our identity in our circle. It literally puts words to what we think of our friends, and simply ‘Tag’ them to communicate it to them.
These are all things about Who, What, Where, Why, When and How You are.
So what I’m trying to say is that we are more likely to spend more time on, and share more content that appeals to our identity. Now the title of course needs to include this relatable factor, to attract the audience in the first place.
1. 5 things that suck about being a Girl (Gender)
2. 10 times that all Engineering Students have felt like crying (occupation)
3. Things all Indians do Abroad (Nationality)
4. If you like Game of Thrones, this tv show will blow your mind (interests)
5. 7 struggles All back-benchers have gone through (defining characteristics)
This kind of content is Informative in nature. It tells us things about our world- Why, who, what, where, when and how about certain events, people or things around us. This kind of content appeals to us because it gives us a better understanding of the world around us and helps us through it. We share it because we find value in it and hope that the people in our lives too, would find it valuable or helpful.
Now let’s take a look at titles that would match this kind of content and would be compelling enough for the audience to open it.
1. Why the Harry Potter series was the best thing that happened to mankind. (Facts about what you like)
2. These facts will change the way you view Vegetarians (Facts about what your friends like)
3. Proof that your parents do have a favourite child and it might not be you (Proving / Disproving Arguments)
4. Top 10 colleges in India with the best Campus Life (Humble Brag)
5. You need to go Backpacking to these places Once before you die!! (Travel/ Exoticness)
This kind of content is meant to evoke emotional responses. It uses external factors, say like a Puppy, to affect you internally, (Awww!). We watch and share the ones that invoke positivity, that inspire us, shock us, outrage us, horrify us, and we want those in our circle as well to experience these feelings as well. The content from this category affects how we feel.
As far as the titles of these content pieces go, they might be like
1. You won’t believe how this 12 year old gave it back to his bullies. (Inspirational)
2. These puppies in their halloween costumes will get you through the day (Happy/Sad)
3. I could have been imprisoned for helping out a homeless person! (Shock/Disbelief)
4. School Principal in UP expels 16 year old for being Gay! (Outrage/ Injustice)
5. 17 People Who Got UNSPEAKABLY HORNY Due To “Game Of Thrones” (Sexaulity)
In conclusion, the appeal of any content to its audience must be well thought out, before writing it. Does it appeal to one’s identity? Does it provide any information to the audience? Does it evoke any emotional response from the audience?
Having understood these categories, the following are certain guidelines and principles you should keep in mind to get more attention and shareability.
Nobody wants to read or see anything that dulls their day. Positive or happy content not only appeals well to its audience, but also builds a positive relationship with the brand that the content is coming from.
Content will go viral only if it is Relevant for those sharing it. It’s like the fundamental principle of gossip. Only if people know you, will people talk about you, right? Exactly the reason why a video of cute puppies is more likely to be shared than a video of snakes. People like puppies more than they like snakes.
Content that is centered around human relationships, and their connections with the outer world is more likely to be shared versus content that defies human relations and natural behaviour. As social animals, we don’t even realise, but are actively trying to understand why people around us behave the way they do. So, content that justifies it, or resonates with the same, is of course more likely to be shared.
4. Match Expectations:
The title of the content must always promise exactly what the content inside has to offer. When the content offer is different from what the title has promised to give, the audience is left disappointed. It’s like the movies on Youtube- you see a video titled ‘Titanic Full Movie’ but its actually a one and a half hour video that just says ‘Click the link in the description below’. Frustrating, right?
5. Niche Inclusion:
Speak to a niche crowd, talk about people, not the masses. Say for example, Content about Short people- Short people will like your content and share it with their circle. Whereas, average height people will also tag their short friends on it. Win- Win right? Even though there are fewer people to read this particular piece of content, the fact that you called them out and spoke directly about them, will get their attention to other content on your website as well.
6. Create Information Gaps:
Try and create curiosity in the minds of your audience with the title of your content. An effective title will make them ask, Who, What, whY, WHEN, WHERE, HOW. ‘19 Facts that all Indian college students know’ or ‘You won’t believe what this man did’ or ‘The luckiest Man in the world’. It creates an information gap in your audience’s mind that you now have to fill! By clicking on that article, or watching the video.
7. Explain the Unexplained:
Content that explain why’s and how’s of life, or explains stuff that people are usually uncomfortable talking about. Stuff that’s NSFW, or basically, (says like a secret: Sex Ed!). We all want to know everything, or at least not appear stupid. Even weird stuff that people are shy to talk about, like Why do my feet stink? Or Top 10 tips to remove nasal hair
8. Be Funny:
This is the most important, and widely searched for Emotion in content. Funny or Humorous content is sought for even in content that is informative or appeals to one’s identity!
9. Distribution Channel Strategy:
Viral Content Pages or channels follow a content strategy based on audience mood. The theory goes that if you’re consuming a particular kind of content, you’re doing so to feel a certain emotion and you are likely to want to keep feeling this emotion. With that in mind, you’ll consume more content that elicits the same emotion. Think about it, after watching Aib videos on Youtube, you probably won’t switch to a Ted talk, unless it’s on Comedy. You’re more likely to explore other funny videos or stand up comedy videos. Another theory is platform based; Usually, on Facebook, we tend to consume and share content that we find relatable and events that might concern us. We usually use Instagram to consume and share content that is related to things that we like or do. Pinterest is a more personal one where we consume content that is more passion related.
10. Test and Experiment
Keep experimenting with new kinds of content. Think about the first few Personality Quizzes. That was a crazy idea, right? Especially at a time when Social media was actually used to see what your friends were upto, and wasn’t ALL about the content you consume through other pages. But, soon after, our news feed was just about these quizzes. Turns out, We’re all self obsessed and we’d love to know what other people think about us, even if that judgement is based on a series of random ass questions, with no logical algorithm to your results.
The language that is used is the most critical in content. And, it’s not a question between Hindi or English, but the lingo that you use. Think of the lingo that your audience uses. Would they say Hey, How are you doing or would they say, What’s Up bro? This helps you reach the correct, Intended audience and establish a relation with them.
This was all about the themes and general principles that should be considered in content creation and distribution to get the best results on shareability. If you use these simple guidelines, title prompts, and categories, you can easily make content that might actually go Viral.