Have you ever wondered what it takes to generate a viral piece of content? And no, I don’t mean something which is medically contagious (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NizrG2oZYW0). I’m talking about that one video which gets played by everyone in the office (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCSFMqkcqoM), or at least by that one hipster who knows every viral video ever created. Well, there isn’t exactly one formula which will get you there, but following my five step guide could help you get started!
#1 - Choose the right content
If you look at the various popular videos and images on the web, you’ll notice that some of the most famous pieces of content revolve around a few topics: kids, talent, pets, crazy, offensive, and of course, adult. Does this mean you’re stuck with making a video of a cute child/baby or cat/dog? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlOsu870j8E) Of course not, you can also go with something inappropriate to the general audience. But let’s break down some of the basics: If it’s cute, then you have to take a picture or video of it immediately. Same goes for funny, but if you can get cute and funny together, then you might hit the jackpot. The easy part about generating cute content is that if you have a cute kid or pet, then cuteness will just always be there for content creation…just ask Maru (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqTfk7Etr3c). Funny, on the other hand seems to be spontaneous (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvXnhtzjhRE), and is usually turned into content by accident; so unless you’re a comedian or an actor, you might want to skip this one.
Quite frankly, the easiest and fastest way to generate content is by taking pictures of everything, all the time. You don’t really need to have a plan. The plan for most teenagers seems to be: “Is this cool? Do I look cool? Then I need to take a picture ASAP!”. Ah yes, the “selfie” is born (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKkdm71X4e8). I think it goes without saying that the urge to look cool on the internet is a gigantic driving force of user-generated content. In fact, brands will look for this type of content over everything else because this content doesn’t look like it was “generated” according to some plan devised by the brand. Brands just want to show people as they are…or at least, as they are when they are trying to look as cool as possible. So yes, if you want to game the system, you might choose to generate content that looks like you being yourself, but is in fact you using or wearing clothes and products of large companies that happen to have extensive marketing departments. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.
#2 - Choose the right device
Back in the day, if you wanted real content, you had to hire a portrait painter and sit for a while. Sharing content was limited to parties where you hung your piece of content on some wall and talked about it. Now you’ve got random painted nails visible to everyone in the world, with comments, and maybe even product solicitations (gallery.sephora.com/board/Nails). Any phone which is capable of taking an image can create content. As long as you can capture a moment in time with a device, then that device works for content generation. Any device which can record image, video, or sound will work. Most devices are optimized to make the creation of internet-friendly content easy. What changes between the devices is usually the quality of the capturing and storing technology, and how the device transfers the content to other places. I’m not sure how much this affects a piece of content trying to go viral, but it might affect brands’ decisions to use your content, since they love high-quality image and video content.
#3 - Choose where to upload
Now that you have your content, you need to make it publicly available, or in other words, put it on the internet. Social networks are usually a great start. The amount of sharing and re-sharing that goes on inside of these interactive networks is insane. Yes, you can just make a website for yourself these days and host your pictures and videos there…but seriously, who does that? You need to alert every single person you know about your fresh new content, and it has to make a lasting impression! Again, social networks are pretty much built for this nowadays. Go ahead and join Facebook, or Youtube, or Instagram, or Twitter, or Ello (https://ello.co/beta-public-profiles) or whatever…Myspace anyone? anyone?…and upload as much content as humanly possible. This is where it will be scraped, tagged, #hashtagged, mentioned, and pretty much hooked into the matrix of web content, ready to be found by anyone, and anything. That, or you can wait around for Google to index your website. Shouldn’t take too long…hang in there.
#4 - Choose promotion strategy
Ok, so you’ve created, captured, and uploaded your content to social media. What do you do now? Here’s one idea: Throw a gigantic party in the middle of nowhere, all centered around your content (http://blog.thismoment.com/ugc-marketing/). Oh, you don’t have millions and millions of dollars for this? Maybe you can blog about it? Tell some friends, write some emails, hire a promoter. Basically there are no shortcuts with promoting your content, unless you either have the advertising capita or your content is seriously, seriously viral. In which case, it will promote itself once it hits social media. Also make it a point to read and re-read this great article on promoting your conent by KISSMetrics: (https://blog.kissmetrics.com/17-advanced-methods/)
#5 - Go Viral
So you’ve promoted the heck out of your content and your potato is ready to go viral (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbfnOtMfUmU). Ok…a viral potato kind of sounds gross, and unfortunately there is not much extra you can do at this point unless your content is actually viral-worthy. I could put tons of advice links found all over the internet on the subject (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/noah-kagan/why-content-goes-viral-wh_b_5492767.html), but the best advise is to probably not get carried away trying to force your content into something it’s not. Just have fun creating it, sharing it, tweeting it, tagging it, putting it on social media and content clouds, and the rest is up to the general public. Good luck and may your content always leave them wanting more!