Viral Content Reverse Engineering Strategy

Creating viral content is very difficult because there are so many variables that can determine the success of a viral campaign. And many of the things that factor into this success are beyond your control. Often, what makes sense on paper just doesn’t work in real life, and it can be impossible to determine why. There are various methods of crafting content that has a good chance to go viral. Keyword research is obviously one of them. Keeping up with the latest content marketing trends, and staying ahead of the curve is an absolute must.

Why Invest in Viral Content?

Is working on viral content, on writing that’s meant to go global, a smart investment of your time? For one thing, as the old saying goes, shoot for the moon, and you’re bound to reach for the stars. Even if your content misses its mark, and doesn’t go viral, you’re still going to be left with well-crafted material that’s going to help boost your image.

It’s also worth investing in viral content because you’ll be encouraging your audience to do a lot of the legwork for you. You can get more out of your content if users share and discuss it. You won’t have to invest a lot of time in link building when a single piece can reach thousands of users.

One of the easiest ways to figure out what works is to reverse engineer viral content that’s already making a splash. It’s the most efficient way to find out what works best: looking at what works best.

Of course, there some things that are probably going to remain accessible for years to come. Videos, images, and infographics can boost your SEO. Infographics are perhaps some of the most useful types of content when it comes to promoting your brand since they offer the perfect balance between text and image. But with the rise in popularity of video-based social networking platforms such as Vine, YouKnow, and FaceTime, video could soon become the most popular media out there.

However, just identifying media that works is not enough to create viral content. There are many more factors that go into making a post viral.  Reverse engineering the process is going to take a little bit of research and know-how, but it’s well worth the investment.

Why Use This Strategy?

As mentioned earlier, reverse engineering viral content can save you a lot of time when it comes to figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Learning from other people’s mistakes and successes means you don’t have to put in the same effort to rediscover something new.

That will give you plenty of time to focus on other things, such as adapting your findings to your needs. Of course, always bear in mind that viral media is a very dynamic field, and what worked two years ago is not going to work now. Simply copy-pasting a format is not going to work. Audiences get very bored very quickly seeing the same old stuff over and over again, so make sure your content always has a fresh feel to it.

The Tools You’ll Need

One way to go about reverse engineering viral content is simply to look at content that’s worked well in the past, and try to figure out why it was so appealing in the first place. Obviously, this is not a very efficient way to do it, and it’s probably why many marketers avoid the strategy in the first place.

But thankfully, there are plenty of online tools that can help you make the whole process much smoother. If you find something, an article you think might work for your campaign, first copy the link and paste into SocialMention. This little search engine gives you all sorts of useful info related to social media metrics. And there’s also BuzzSumo that can help you find the most popular articles in your branch.

Using these apps will help you assess what constitutes viral content within your niche. Because viral is a very vague term. Strictly speaking, your articles has to be seen and shared by “a lot” of people. And that’s going to vary a lot depending on what you do.

So you want to have a nice, firm baseline when you start thinking about whether an article is successful or not in your field.

What to Look Out For

SocialMention offers insight not just in the more obvious social metrics. It also tells you something about users’ sentiments when they talk about an article. And that’s something you should bear in mind because content ca go viral for all the wrong reasons as well.

Look for articles that have positive feelings associated with them. These are the ones you will want to emulate. Do not try to merely plagiarize a viral article mostly because Google has become excellent at spotting plagiarism.

So not only are you not going to get your content to go viral, but it might end up banned altogether. All of that effort you put into research is going to be wasted. And second, internet users are just as adept at spotting thefts. And there’s nothing worse for your brand image than getting labeled as a fraud.

Look for common threads amongst the various articles you discover. Maybe what they’ve all got in common is a particular format or theme. Maybe it’s something more abstract, like the tone they use to discuss their subject matter. This will all depend on your findings.

Always try to look for the unexpected in a field. Look for articles that seem counterintuitive. Take for example a website that’s geared towards college students. You wouldn’t expect to see an article about whether or not a college education is worth the investment, and yet this is precisely the sort of things that can become a hit. Because it’s surprising, and it voices the concerns of your audience and addresses them at their level.

This was the sort of logic that turned the Old Spice ads from a mere good commercial to an absolute viral hit. It was funny, charming and most importantly, it poked fun at its very own format. There was no way you could argue with its appeal. You couldn’t mock it because it was already satire.

You should also try to spot if there are any dips in popularity for any media. You might just be noticing the highs of a particular piece of media, but not spot the fact that it’s gradually going out of style. It takes a while before viral content loses its appeal, but once it’s started on that downwards spiral, it’s pretty much gone. And if your content gets stuck in that spiral, it’s unlikely to benefit from all that viral appeal.

As with any research, the data itself is not as important as what you decide to do with it. Even if you compile an extensive list of what makes or breaks viral content, you’re still going to have to figure how to adapt these findings to suit your needs. As long as you maintain a personal touch, you’re sure to find something that works for you.

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