We live in a time when achieving fame is all-important. And while the 20th century focused its pop culture attention on Hollywood and various entertainment industries, and fame was only available to professionals, the arrival of the internet turned that dynamic on its head.
Now anyone can become famous. All you need is a piece of content that everybody likes. People going about their daily lives have become famous simply because they did something funny and filmed it – such as making a quirky entrance to a wedding.
Viral content holds an enormous amount of power. Old Spice was able to rejuvenate its brand for a new generation by creating advertisements that were shared millions of times on YouTube and other social networks. In this age, it isn’t enough to just create good content – you need to understand and harness the elements that make it shareable.
So how can you make that happen? It’s harder than you think.
Too many businesses try and make content go viral, experts say. This leads to pandering. Instead of creating the best content you can, they instead try to guess what the audience wants at that precise moment in time, which means they’re more likely to pick a trend that will be dead in five minutes.
Trevor Young, a PR consultant known as ‘The PR Warrior’ online, says you should forget about the possibility of going viral in the first place and, instead, just make good content.
“It’s meaningless and very difficult to predict. Better to focus on your audience and create compelling content that addresses their needs, or if thought leadership is your goal, ensure your narrative is refreshing and provocative.
“Not all of the content you produce is going to ‘knock it out of the park’, but if you consistently create content that informs, educates, empowers or inspires – if it’s genuinely interesting and relevant to the audience – then you should see some positive results over time.”
Of course, there are always ways to make your content more shareable. Posts with pictures are more likely to be shared than those with just text, for instance. And given networks like YouTube, Twitch and Vine are among some of the biggest social platforms around, anything you create in a video format is likely to be more attractive to viewers.
Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger told SmartCompany recently the key is to focus content at a viewer’s emotional core, but you need to make the content engaging first and foremost.
“People don’t want to share things that look like ads. They don’t want to look like they are a walking advertisement for a company. But they will share really engaging content, even if that content happens to relate to a brand.”