Is Going Viral a Result of Luck or Good Strategy?

You can’t predict when a piece of content will go viral — like #TheDress — but there are a few ways you can increase its likelihood. 

Virality is a moment that changes everything for a brand. The Internet catches fire and suddenly you’re connecting with people by the thousands or millions. It’s likely that each time you come across a viral post you ask yourself, “How did they do that?”

Recently, a photo of a dress on BuzzFeed went viral. It might possibly be one of the most shared and talked-about pieces of content on the Internet to date (more than 3 million people voted in BuzzFeed’s poll about its color). We bet when BuzzFeed writer Cates Holderness found the photo on Tumblr and published it to BuzzFeed she wasn’t expecting it would eventually catch Kim Kardashian’s attention.

Going viral might seem like a piece of content was just at the right place at the right time, but there’s more to it than pure luck. You can’t predict virality, but there are a few things you can do to increase its potential.

See also: What a Blog Post With 30 Million Views Tells Us About Good Content

Tie Your Content Into Current Events

While thousands of press releases are sent out every day, most of them simply disappear down the memory hole. Differentiating yourself takes careful planning combined with knowing the right time to implement your plan.

Take a page out of WordStream’s book, a company that helps monitor, track and evaluate Internet advertising. The brand performed in-depth research in comparing Google ads and Facebook ads, and found that Google ads are dramatically more effective. Not only was the research valuable to businesses and investors, but WordStream published its press release in time to coincide with the Facebook IPO.

The press release also featured engaging content that led large media companies like Reuters and The Wall Street Journal to pick up their research. A big part of their success was performing the research in advance and releasing it just when the buzz about Facebook was reaching its height. While their posts didn’t go viral, their research did because it was included in many of the conversations happening about Facebook’s IPO.

Connect Emotionally With Your Audience

Earlier this year, author Mark Manson wrote a blog post that was shared thousands of times on social media. The title? “The Subtle Art of Now Giving a F*ck.” Of course, with a catchy headline like that, it’s hard not to click. Success can’t only be attributed to its headline though. The content within the article was original, honest and insightful.

Mark talked about how successful people don’t let the little things in life throw them off track. Everyone could relate to what he was saying in his post in some capacity. This is an example of how when you truly speak your mind about something that other people care about, it will get the attention it deserves.

Create Content That Delivers Real Value

While your audience’s attention span can be short, the content that makes a real impact is long, in-depth and provided by someone with real knowledge to impart. You may not consider a corporate slideshow presentation worthy of millions of views, but Netflix CEO Reed Hastings’ slideshow presentation did just that. His presentation includes 126 slides, and covers a wide range of management topics that highlight how he guided Netflix to success.

His slideshow spread best practices across a wide variety of industries and generated hundreds of thousands of views. It was also talked about in Business Insider, Gigaom and by notable figures on social media.

As you can see, it’s never easy getting thousands or millions of views or shares, but using the tactics above will help optimize your content’s potential for success.

What do you think helps a piece of content go viral? Share your thoughts with us below.

To Read More About Content Marketing:

Content Marketing Advice from CMI’s Joe Pulizzi & What Marketers Can Do Better In 2015
Do Readers Want To Share Your Content?
The Content Manager’s Ultimate List of Events to Attend In 2015