By: Marilyn L. Davis
“The first lesson in constructing viral content is having the strength, courage, and self-confidence to get in touch with your own feelings, thinking about what profoundly affects you.” ― Ken Poirot, Go Viral!: The Social Media Secret to Get Your Name Posted and Shared All Over the World!
If It Worked for Ken Poirot, Will It Work for Me?
One thing that Ken Poirot does well is condensing wisdom into sound bites, short quotes, and inspiring messages. All of these translate into mentions, social media standing, and popular posts. If we’re honest, we’re all hoping that happens to us.
He is also not afraid to tap into the emotions that we sometimes try to hide – the fears, the insecurities, and the doubts, all the emotions that touch a reader.
Readers Make It Viral
Facebook was still the entry point for posts that went viral in 2016. While our posts got some attention on FB, why didn’t ours go viral? It might be that we didn’t write it from a perspective that would compel readers to share it.
For instance, I’d thought for a long time that I should write a post on the Kardashian Method of Writing. The name alone will guarantee that people will at least open the post. However, there is, to the best of my knowledge, no Kardashian Method, just a bunch of paid copywriters and publicists, and I don’t have their names so the post would be pointless. If we’d feel dishonest doing a bait and switch on our readers with a bogus title, then what can we write about that might go viral?
There are some general topics that tend to go viral:
- Current research on medical topics – especially if it’s about a cure
- Politicians – including memes, quotes, tweets, and photos
- Healthy Anything – diets, exercise, lifestyles, and stress reduction
- Inspirational Stories – the human interest story, quotes, the emotions of the Everyman
Grab Them from the Get-Go
How do you engage a reader? – with a headline that grabs their attention. Well, you’re thinking, that goes without saying, but I’m serious.
Grab them immediately. First Word. What are some words that will get their attention?
Notice that some are in caps? This is a way to get the reader to know you mean it, but don’t overdo it.
Can’t quite figure out how any of those words would work for your topics? Then play around with similar words and see if you can’t create a headline that gets their attention. I’ll give you an idea of how:
- WARNING: These Activities Might Take You Back to Your Use (For From Addict 2 Advocate)
- WARNING: SEO Strategies Have Changed – Has Your Blog? (For Two Drops of Ink)
While addiction ranks in Google searches, it’s often combined with treatment for the following: faith, 12-step, secular-based programs, and this means that I’ve got to qualify my SEO for From Addict 2 Advocate. I write about addiction, recovery, and changes, but don’t offer any type of treatment.
Yet, recovery is one of the most searched for words for ‘addiction’, so I’ll work it into a title: Early Recovery Jobs: Lowered Expectations and Higher Rewards. I’ve managed to incorporate recovery, jobs, and rewards into a title that defines what the post is about, and used high-ranking keywords.
Content and Curiosity: Both Are Essential
Try playing around with intent, and convey it in your title, because with Hummingbird, Google is more in touch with a reader’s intent when they search. We’ve made some things simple at Two Drops of Ink. We have Poetry Breaks, Sunday Spotlight, Grammar Shorts, Literary Agent News, and Memoir as categories that a person might search for, followed by the title of the poem, the contributor spotlighted, the grammar issues, or the title of the memoir.
We’ve made our tagline straightforward: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing, and your tagline should tell them the who, what, and why as well.
Google Speaks and The Guy/Gal Next Door
While SEO is important, you’re still writing for humans, not just search engines. Humans want to be entertained, educated, and enchanted. Your voice, tone, and style reinforce one of these three ways that people get engaged in a post.
Content goes viral because of sharing, and people share, not search engines.
When your content is shared, show your appreciation. I like that FB has an option of what I can display in the comment section. If I’ve posted to a page that has an administrator who decides whether or not to post my blog, when it’s posted, I go in and thank them. I like that I can tag them, and then use my “signature emoji” to say thanks.
I’ve been told how few writers take the time to acknowledge the administrators, and even fewer take the time to personalize a thank you.
But this small effort on my part has gotten me shares that I might not have gotten otherwise.
Know Who’s Likely to Share Your Post
We hear about our tribes, those people who we have something in common with – the like-minded, the cause-driven comrades, the friends in the dark times, the ones who “get us.” We support each other, have bonds of friendship, shared interests, and we’re more likely to share a tribe member’s post.
Don’t know that you have a tribe? Then who wants the best for you? Who compliments you, and I’m not talking about giving you praise. For instance, Scott Biddulph, the Editor-in-Chief at Two Drops of Ink, is the grammarian, editor, and poet. I’m not.
But I am the cheerleader, the encouraging one, the image finder, title generator, and social arm here. See how our roles complement each other? We are good in our respective roles, and neither of us is vying for the other’s responsibilities, but neither of us would be as successful without the other.
I’ve also got my addiction and recovery tribe. I know that people are dying from their addictions and quality posts that will reach people still struggling with addictions are something that I share. It’s reciprocal. My tribe shares mine.
Shares Represent You
According to the New York Times study:
- 68% of the population shares to define themselves
- 84% share information about causes that touch them
- 73% share to attract like-minded individuals
Your tribe, and people most likely to share your posts are already in FB or LinkedIn rooms, start there. A simple search of beliefs, causes, occupations, hobbies, or interests will help you find pages or groups of interest.
Then it’s up to you to interact.
Just how do my shares, especially when it’s by another writer, demonstrate to the world who I am? There are four ways this works. My shares give potential readers a link to a worthwhile article – that is the apparent communication, and some subtle information about me – the unstated message. For instance, in a share I might provide:
- Worthwhile Content for Others
Benefit 1: The unstated message: “I believe in this topic/writer/issue. I think this is informative/interesting/entertaining.”
- Articles Defining my Beliefs, Ideas, and Interests for Others
Benefit 2: The unstated message: “This is me written by someone else.”
- Links to Like-Minded Individuals for Online Connections
Benefit 3: The unstated message: “I added this link as we think, feel, and believe in similar ideas.
- A Call to Action for Social Problems, Injustices, and Causes
Benefit 4: The unstated message: “These are the causes, social issues or injustices that arouse my passion, and I want you to know about this subject.”
Kittens: Always Share Worthy
Just remember the Kleenex: “For any creative thought to be contagious, it must first be worthy of a sneeze.” ― Ryan Lilly
So, if it’s not a cold, but a viral condition you’re suffering from – good for you!
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