You don’t have to be a long-time player in the social media game to get some serious views on your content. In fact, a lot of the well-known bloggers, vloggers, YouTubers, livestream-ers (yes that’s a thing now), Viners, etc, each got their start by taking calculated risks while following some some very strategic guidelines.
I’ve aggregated the six tips below from my own lessons, lessons I’ve learned from completely striking out for one post and then going viral the next.
1. Be Bold
This is the absolute highest priority when developing viral content. But to be clear, do NOT confuse this for inauthenticity or sensationalism. Think about how many stories you see as you scroll down your Facebook newsfeed every day. What captures your attention? Sometimes it’s just a really cute title about adorable baby pandas that love to be cuddled by humans, but often it’s the raw, unique free expression from someone about a topic that we’ve already heard about millions of times, or a new twist on a classic form of entertainment that we’ve already come to love.
Think about how you feel when you’re sitting at the DMV waiting hours for your number to be called. Now imagine you overhear a woman telling a story about her son in a monotone voice, with little expression, recapping her drive to take him to college earlier that week. You would probably take our your phone, pick up your book, or find another way to occupy your mind. Now imagine that same scenario, but this time the woman is animated, opinionated, laughing and sharing embarrassing intimate details that remind you of your own trip to college; before you know it you’re eavesdropping, sitting on the edge of your seat waiting to hear what happened next, so immersed in the story that you almost miss your number being called.
No one wants to see or hear something they’ve already been fed over and over. Be the new opinion, the charismatic storyteller that they’ve got to share with all of their friends. In order to do that, you’ve got to be willing to put yourself on the line and be brave with your content, your true feelings about a situation that happened or is currently happening, or to take a risk and show vulnerability around your art in a way that hasn’t been seen yet.
2. Be Ahead of the Curve
Know what’s out there, specifically in your field of interest, and know what isn’t out there yet. It’s very important to study the methods of other successful viral content, but in doing that, you also want to take note of how you could make it better or what unique element you could add to the mix that you feel is missing.
For an example of how to stand out in the massive online crowd, check out Epic Rap Battles on YouTube. Each video gets millions and millions of views because the creators had an original idea for something that wasn’t being done yet (since they’ve launched in 2006 there have been many copycats, but no one has been able to master it like these guys). Figure out your special skills and act quickly.
Timing in general can be imperative to getting eyeballs on your work. A lot of online comedians get traction when they immediately upload a skit based on something that happened in yesterday’s news. Musicians’ covers of songs do well when the song they’re covering is either rising to the top of the iTunes chart or they cover a new release before it really hits big, trusting music blogs and their intuition to point them in the right direction.
3. Get In With the Bloggers
In addition to your Facebook friends, email list (mailchimp.com is a great email service), and existing social media platforms, you’ll want to do everything you can to make e-friends (or real friends) with big bloggers or sites that get a lot of traffic. In order to gain their attention, you’ve got to provide them with something interesting enough for them to share. It’s really a win-win; they’re looking for something to share and you’ve got that something. You reach out to writers individually, making sure to include at least one sentence about another piece they shared that you truly admire, or hire an intern whose sole job is to cultivate relationships with the online media megastars.
If you can make your way onto a Buzzfeed list, that’s going to generate a ton of traffic your way. So invest the time it takes to getting on their good lists.
4. Tap Into Your Network
When you’ve got something you’re really proud of, reach out to your network and ask them to share it. Now, asking people to do this is an art-form in itself. You want to make sure to frame your request in a way where no one feels forced or guilted into sharing it, rather they are excited to be a part of your work! Tell them how passionate you are about the content and then say something like, “If you can think of anyone who would benefit from this, please pass along or share!”
For your close friends or family, go ahead and ask directly but don’t take it personally if they neglect to do so.
5. Be Strategic With Your Featured Guests
Collaborate often, but more important than that, collaborate wisely. Align yourself with other content creators who are already putting out virally viewed media and offer to take care of the costs of production or promotion, or show how it will be beneficial for them to be a part of your project. Once they agree, make it something that they’re also really proud of and will want to share without you asking for their help. Make them the star or highlight their life.
As Dale Carnegie says:
“Talk to someone about themselves and they’ll listen for hours.”
It works the same with featuring other people in your content as well.
6. Be Consistent
Post regularly – you never know what will hit. As long as your posts are consistent in both quantity and quality, you are already way ahead of the people who share on an irregular schedule. In fact, one of my biggest posts was me simply sharing a story about something that happened to me while I was out on a run. I hadn’t thought much about it because I was so in the habit of writing my real life events in real time, and I put up the post without thinking much about it, only to find that by the next morning it was at nearly 200,000 likes on Facebook. It continued to grow from there. I was shocked. I had simply shared an event because it was related to an issue that I care deeply about, and it turns out that there were a whole lot of people who needed to hear about that event as much as I needed it to happen to me.
So be you, always, and be consistent with getting your voice out there because you never know who might be listening.
As you process the tips above, remember that at the end of the day, people want to be moved. They want to feel something, whether that’s laughter, sadness, inspiration, or just to feel connected to humanity through a really good story; they want to challenge their minds or else feel comforted and soothed. Combine your viewers’ need to be entertained, your passion, your truth, and these tips above, and you’ll be connected to millions online in no time.
Words from Joel Brown the Founder of Addicted2Success.com who has over 2.2 Social Media Followers and a website with over 100 Million Views Worldwide
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