Virality is all about people. Sure, you’ve got some algorithms to contend with, but those algorithms respond to the human touch. In other words, if you can capture the audience, you can get the algorithms to work for you.
I’ve written a good number of articles that have made the numbers on Google Analytics soar and I 'm confident this success has come directly from understanding the audience and writing to them.
There’s a lot I do to understand an audience in order to create a piece with high levels of interaction. However, the fundamentals are easy to understand and can take you a long way. Here are three essential questions you need to ask about your audience in order to create a viral article.
1.What does your audience disagree with?
What do people do on social media when they disagree? They comment.
And because Facebook prioritizes posts that have more interactions over posts with low engagement, the virality of an article depends on comments.
If you want to create a viral article, you need to give people something to talk about, and that means sparking a little controversy.
This doesn’t mean you have to write anything you don’t believe in or anything or incorrect. Let me give an example. Before writing “13 signs you have the best husband EVER” which has over 1,000,000 page views to date, I did a lot of audience research and learned that my audience supports pornography. However, I am very against this media. So, I made sure to include a point in my article about how the “best husband” doesn’t watch porn. Sure enough, this point was the stimulus for much of the conversation about this article, bumping up its social reach.
2.Who does your audience want to be?
Think about the last thing you shared on social media. Whether it was some pictures of your trip to Cancun or a New York Times article about feminism, the content you chose to populate your Twitter or Instagram profile was meant to define yourself to the world. Love it or hate it, we post things on social media to be seen and we carefully decide how we want others to see us. And since the most valuable commodity when it comes to viral content is social shares (platforms reward it, your content gets the eyes of the sharer’s audience, and that audience is more likely to read it because they know the person sharing it), you need to create something that your audience believes is worth sharing.
If you can understand how your audience wants to seen and create content that personifies it, you’ll be able to achieve higher share rates and drive traffic to your content piece.
3.Where will the audience read your article?
User experience must define content creation. If your content doesn’t become one with the reader’s process, it won’t get the attention it needs to go viral.
For instance, if your readers mainly access your content through Facebook, imagine them scrolling through their feed; There’s so much demanding their attention. What’s going to make them pay attention to your content over all the other posts, articles, videos, and memes? What will make them choose to click out of Facebook and into your article? This process is entirely different than if your reader was accessing your content through an different means like a Google search or your homepage.
Going through your reader’s process will help you refine your content to meet your readers where they are.
By really digging into these three questions, you’ll have a greater understanding of your audience to create content they want to engage with, causing your share, reach and engagement to spread like a virus.