Want to make sure your content gets in front of millions of people and also drives tons of traffic and generates links and social engagement?
Planning for virality is nearly impossible. You can never know with 100 percent certainty what the public will find newsworthy.
But there are five tactics you can use that will help your content go viral, according to Kat Haselkorn, director of content, Go Fish Digital, who spoke today at Pubcon SFIMA in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Timely content can be viral content. Align your content with current news in a way that will make people care.
While you should have an editorial calendar, you don’t want one that is so rigid that you can’t adjust and respond to news that’s happening today
For example, Haselkorn shared an example of an artificial Christmas tree retailer that generated buzz by decorating its trees for the NBA finals (Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers).
Not many people are thinking about artificial Christmas trees in June. But the play worked, resulting in several thousand views and engagement.
That same company also found success on Reddit in January by playing off one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions: losing weight. They created content about a decorative tree whose resolution was to get into their skinny jeans.
For another client, a veterans charity, they found success on Reddit by sharing a piece of content that shared interesting statistics and facts about veterans. But rather than just publish it on any day, they waited until Veteran’s Day. In addition to making it to the front page of Reddit, the content brought in more than 100,000 visitors to their site.
2. Ego Bait
One type of ego bait is mentioning or featuring influencers or subject-matter experts in a piece of content. You then rely on those people to help spread your content via their personal networks.
Roundup posts are one example. A few roundup posts have appeared here on SEJ (e.g., PPC trends, SEO trends, and social media trends). Another example is lists of people, such as “50 SEO Experts You Need to Follow on Twitter”.
Whatever the industry, you ideally want to find people who have a strong social media following and presence, and who also share their mentions.
But Haselkorn said you can also do ego bait that targets events, places, or cities. For example, “The 10 Most Innovative Cities,” “The 50 Happiest Cities in America,” or the “Top 20 Holiday Light Shows in the U.S.”
Then, pitch reporters in those cities or towns with your findings. If you can get a reporter to pick up your digital asset, it can snowball into more traditional offline exposure, possible even getting featured on TV or radio.
3. Leverage Syndication
Whenever you’re pitching content, it’s smart to target journalists who write for a publication that syndicates its content to other publications.
For example, Haselkorn shared an example of a GIF featuring a brief history of giant superyachts from the past 100 years. After successfully pitching it to Popular Mechanics, the article got syndicated to Yahoo.
As more publications or blogs pick up the syndicated content, links will continue to roll in.
4. Personalize Your Pitch Emails
Getting someone to open your email pitch is half the battle. You want to stand out from the rest.
Editors and journalists will ignore templates that you send to 200 publications. So stalk editors and reporters. Find something that will catch their eye, such as a stared interest, and mention it.
For example, Haselkorn once discovered that she and an editor had a shared love of guacamole made out of peas. Although she didn’t hear back from the editor, she did hear back from a reporter at that publication. The result: getting featured on Business Insider.
5. Hop on a Bandwagon
Viral campaigns are happening all the time. But even if you didn’t start a mannequin challenge, planking, or Andy’s coming challenge, you can still capitalize on them.
For example, Haselkorn reached out on behalf of a client to the people who did a series of hydraulic press challenges, where various objects get crushed, to see if they’d be willing to crush a diamond. In return for supplying the diamond, the company (Brilliant Earth) got mentioned by name, its jewelry box and logo was shown, and they got a mention and link in the YouTube description.
The Hydraulic Press Channe, team did all the heavy lifting of promotion. On reddit, it became the top video for the day and its been viewed more than 10 million times on YouTube.