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Viral Content Marketing: This is How to Create Viral Content

viral content marketing

With as much content as there is floating around the World Wide Web these days, it’s no small feat to create share-worthy content that “goes viral.” If you maintain a blog on your website, then you may be wondering what makes content viral and how you can make your blog post go viral; after all, doing so could significantly increase traffic to your website and boost your brand’s reputation in the process!

Creating viral content from your blog is easier said than done, but with these tips on how to create viral content, you’ll be well on your way.

Identify Your Audience

Before you even begin brainstorming viral content ideas, it’s important to have a solid understanding of the audience for which you’re writing. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter how interesting or engaging your blog post is; it isn’t going to go viral if it never reaches your intended audience to begin with.

viral content marketing

As you consider your target audience, think about specific demographics such as age, gender, geographic location, and interests. From there, you’ll be in a better place to brainstorm topics that your target demographic will actually care about reading.

Take a New Approach

Another important piece of advice to keep in mind when it comes to how to make your blog viral is to think outside the box. When you come up with an article idea that you think your audience will be interested in, take time to research it and make sure it hasn’t been done before. If it has, take a new approach or scrap the idea altogether. Remember that some of the best viral articles out there are written about topics that have never been written about before!

Incorporate Imagery

Just because you’re writing a blog article doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate eye-catching images or other media. In fact, incorporating imagery and other media into your blog post is one of the better website ideas to get your content clicked on and shared! Examples such as infographics, videos, and even stock images are all great ideas; just make sure not to use anything copyrighted without permission or without including proper citation.

Get Your Readers Involved


What better way to get your target audience interested in reading and sharing something you wrote than to get them involved in its creation? You might consider, for example, asking your audience to fill out a survey on social media and then writing a blog post about their responses. Having some level of personal investment in a blog post will make your readers more likely to read and share the content themselves, which can increase the likelihood of it “going viral” if the content is interesting enough.

Reach Out!

The last tip to keep in mind when it comes to how to make an article go viral is to do some of the legwork yourself! Rather than counting on shares from your usual readers to ignite that “viral” spark, why not reach out to some large online publications to see if they’d be interested in picking up and sharing your article on their websites or social media pages? You might be surprised at how many are willing to do this for you.

Getting your content to “go viral” can be monumental for your brand—but creating share-worthy content is often easier said than done. As you brainstorm ideas for your next blog, keep these key tips in mind:

  • Know your audience
  • Think outside the box
  • Incorporate other media
  • Invite reader contributions
  • Put your content out there

And if you’re looking for more assistance with viral content marketing for your blog or other content marketing needs, don’t hesitate to contact the professionals at Ballantine today.

This is an updated version of our “6 STEPPS to Viral Content” blog post from 2013. Check out the original post below!

Let’s talk about the holy grail of online marketing: the viral article or video. You’ll see a lot of different types of viral videos, from the wildly funny to the provocatively offensive to the profoundly sad. In this article, we’re going to look at some of the characteristics that viral content shares, no matter what the subject matter. STEPPS is the acronym of the following six characteristics.

Social Currency


Social currency is the idea that an individual’s social status is tied to the information he or she controls. Information that increases a person’s uniqueness, especially in conversation, is highly sought after and readily transmitted.

It’s possible to manufacture social currency. By creating novel and interesting content, we create the next trend that our consumers have to share with their friends. Take a look at the “Will it Blend?” series of videos where blenders are used to blend everything from golf balls to iPhones. This is an example of social currency, because it doesn’t have any real value except that I can send it to my friends and seem like I found a little treasure.




Triggers are words, phrases, or images closely tied to a message. For example, I say “melts in your mouth,” your mind immediately finishes the phrase and thinks of M&Ms. Manufacturing triggers is possible if we keep our message and trigger on top of mind and tip of tongue for an extended period of time. Of note are indirect triggers; I say peanut butter, and you think jelly, or more relevantly, I say “Gangnam Style” and, hopefully, you think pistachios. Brands should work to establish triggers using viral content, so that when the trigger occurs, for example, my friend tells me about a cool new video that they just saw, I can say, “Oh, that reminds me of this.” If you’ve created triggers like this, your content will be shared, too.




People share things they care about. Awe is the most heavily-shared emotion, but in general, any high-arousal emotion has a higher tendency for sharing. Sadness, on the other hand, prevents sharing. A good example of emotion that went viral is the KONY videos. We knew we couldn’t do anything to stop Kony, but we were moved to spread the word about him.




Content that’s “built to show” is “built to grow.” If there’s any reason why a user might avoid sharing a piece of content, whether it’s language choice, content, or otherwise inappropriate, this can significantly impact sharing behavior on a large scale. On the other hand, movements that are naturally public, like Movember and the yellow Liveh3 bracelet, tend to spread faster. Can you start a viral craze with an idea that’s built to show?


Practical Value


People share “news you can use,” like useful, practical advice. People enjoy helping others; it creates a h3er social bond between us by letting the other person know that we care. It’s important to note how we package our practical value advice: it should be tidbits, a paragraph or two at most, rather than a dissertation.




Finally, information travels under the guise of idle chatter. When your brand exists in a story that can’t be told without the brand, and when that story shares well in chatting, you’ve got a hit on your hands. For example, ask any 18-24 year old girl in your life how she would put together a superhero costume for Halloween. Without a doubt, her answer will include M.A.C.’s line of superhero makeup. You can’t tell the story of putting together a Wonder Woman costume without M.A.C. Is there a story in which your brand lives?

Notice that we didn’t talk at all about the medium you should use to release your viral content. Obviously, social networks will be at the top of the list for driving sharing. Of these, in order of virality, we recommend focusing on Pinterest, then YouTube, then Facebook, then Twitter and Google+. Depending on your product, service, or following, one of these networks may have a little more applicability than others, but once you decide where to release, it’s important to do some outreach to influential members of your community and let them know that you’d appreciate their support in spreading the word.


The takeaway lesson is this…


Viral content often seems to happen by chance, but there are a lot of things we can do to encourage our content to take off. From including two or three of the six STEPPS (you don’t need them all!) to pushing our content on highly-viral networks through influential consumer advocates, you can help your content get seeded across the Web.

Image source: © zagandesign – Fotolia.com

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I'm the Director of Digital Services and Partner at Ballantine, a family-owned and operated direct mail & digital marketing company based in New Jersey. and started in 1966 by my great uncle!