Every digital strategist and client wants to be sure their content goes viral. The fact of the matter is you can’t just turn on a switch and POOF, your great content is viral. The word makes some people cringe due to the questionable path to achieving this “viral” status (ahem, Andy).

How does content become viral?

Elements of Viral Content

Recently, I attended SMX Social with a few other FSC-ers. At SMX, Joe Puglisi, creative strategist at BuzzFeed, dished some of his techniques. For him, virality is a gut feel, a dash of hard-nosed analytics and then a deep understanding of your audience.

It begins with defining “viral.” What does it really mean? Many people may think that it means “funny” or “surprising,” but at its core viral content spreads very quickly. Don’t say “viral,” say “shareable.”

How does social media come into play?

Now that we’ve broken it down to “shareable,” this action depends on people to do the actual sharing. If human beings are the distributors, social media are the distribution channels. Social distribution inspires people to organically share things – at the mere click of a button.

Viral Content

Ask yourself, “why would people read this?” Give equal weight to the creative ideas as to why the content will spread.

People share content for three main reasons:

  • Identity – they identify with this piece of content in their life
  • Emotion – it solicits a certain emotion
  • Utility – it’s useful and informative

Why People Share Content

Content gives people the ability to curate the world’s view of them. Each person wants to be perceived in a certain way – content is a quick outlet for that perception. This means we must target people’s interests and not their demographics.

To sum it up ask yourself three questions when creating a piece of content:

  • Would anyone share this?
  • Is it human?
  • Is it relevant?

To learn more from Joe Puglisi or SMX Social, follow them on Twitter at @joefi or @smx.