The secret recipe to creating a viral blog post is…
there is none. Just like there’s not a secret to becoming a professional bull rider. You can work and work at it, and it either happens, or it doesn’t. But, there are some blog post strategies that can increase your chances of going viral… or becoming a professional bull rider - whichever you prefer.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
One of the best ways to pick out strategies to use in your blog post is to look at other viral blogs. What subjects do they discuss? What format do they use? Why is it shareable? For example, Seth Adam Smith’s “Marriage Isn't For You” post has received more than 30 million views and has been translated into 20 languages. Smith attracted the attention of CNN, Forbes, Today, GMA, and Huffington Post with his viral blog post. The popularity came as a surprise to Smith, only predicting a modest 1,000 views for Marriage. Take note of some viral strategies Smith (accidentally) implemented.
- He used a potentially arguable topic and title. When you first read the title, you may be expecting a millennial’s rant over the subjective tradition of marriage; but after seeing happily married people sharing it, you think, “this must be worth a read!”
- Honesty trumps all. Smith wrote from the heart with no particular agenda, and was definitely not expecting the post to go viral. Using an emotional topic can be a great way to spark your blog post - as long as it stays sincere. Trust me, a worthwhile audience will be able to see through any mushy folklore someone might use to become famous.
- Smith told Forbes he’s “not the expert of marriage.” After his viral blog, he was called on to write books and give keynotes on how to have a successful marriage. This wasn’t his message or his expertise. So, he cleared up the message he was trying to convey by creating a public theme entitled “Self Help in a Selfless Way.” Smith shows us that basing an entire career off of just one article is not the way to do it. Having a clear message and vision for your brand - and perseverance for that vision - is another strategy we can learn from Smith.
Content that inspires.
Content is the pillar of your website, so if it sucks, your website will, too. If you’re a writer uninspired by sitting at your desk, get out there and do something. If you want to create a viral blog post for your industry, talk to someone at your office who you never see - write about something they’re facing or some tips they have. Be curious and learn something new. John le Carré said, “A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.” We all could take a little advice from the British author.
Search engine optimization - you’re probably sick of hearing it. Nevertheless, it’s important for receiving the attention you want. Look to see what blog posts have done well in the past. Either use some of the same keywords in your new post, or “beef up” the one that’s done the best. Make sure to use a long tail keyword in the title of your post to attract a quality audience. You have a much better chance of ranking in Google with a long tail keyword than titling your article, “Stuff to do in the Summer.” Check out this post about long tail keywords to get some more tips.
2 - 3 times per week is the “magic” number.
Minimalist blogger, Joshua Becker, found that blogging 2-3 times a week is most successful after a series of experiments. Becker inspires millions of people through his blog, Becoming Minimalist, to consume less and be happy in the present. Not only does he write about an inspiring topic, but he knows the right times to post to increase engagement. After blogging every day, Becker realized his posts were becoming short and rushed. After slowing down to 2-3 posts a week, the quality of his blog increased, as did the quality and quantity of attention he received.
Make it shareable.
One-in-four people will leave a web page that takes longer than four seconds to load. Yikes! Make sure your blog platform loads quickly or you may be losing valuable visitors. Additionally, if you have images in your blog post (which you really should), ensure they load quickly and fit nicely on all types of devices. Many blogging platforms have an option to preview how the post will look on different technologies.
Next, explore different social mediums to share your blog on like tumblr. or reddit. Pinterest now has over 70 million users, so keep them in mind for a targetable audience. Have an intriguing image to accompany the social media post about your article to increase your chances of going viral.
There you have it - the secret recipe for a viral blog post. In reality, there’s no one, single secret, but instead, a series of strategies to increase the chances of your blog post going viral. Most importantly, making a connection with your audience will move them to share your content. Going into a blog post with only the goal of becoming viral will rarely ever generate rewarding content. Honesty, wholeheartedness, and knowing your audience will significantly help your blog post’s chances of going viral.