The Anatomy of a Viral Post
There are so many things that can make content go viral that they’re pretty hard to number and dissect on a whim. You have seen this many times by yourself already: you are on your own, minding your business on Facebook or wherever, and all of a sudden you see something on your wall that immediately grabs your attention.
Then, a gut feeling telling you to click on the link in the post overwhelms you, and you can’t do a thing about it. You click without too much of a second thought, and find the story to be short yet compelling, and you can’t help but click on the share button corresponding to your social network of choice.
That is the exact same reaction that thousands upon thousands of people just had with that same post. It is worth asking: How do they pull it off? We mean the creators of the post. How do they make a post go viral so easily? The secret, besides cool, engaging content, lies in the post’s structure.
Here is a breakdown of the anatomy of a successful viral post. Use this information wisely and you will soon see people reacting the same for your posts!
Common sense would tell you that a great title is a self-explanatory one. A title that tells you just what you need to know. If it contains the information you are after, it will lead you straight to what you wanted, but does this apply to everybody?The short answer is a flat “NO”.
A self-explanatory title will just get the attention of people interested in what the title promotes, but everyone else will pass it off. If you want your titles to grab everyone’s attention, you have to create a title that drives curiosity in people.These types of titles are called “click baits,” and they are designed to make people curious.
They do not tell the entire story behind a title, they just tease people with possibilities, leaving the message of the title open to interpretation. It makes people fill in the gaps with their imagination which forces them to click on the title to see what it is really about, closing the cycle!
One of the best ways to drive curiosity and get people to click on a title is by making it list based. List based articles get more traffic because people prefer content that is presented in chunks instead of long articles.
It helps if you put a little tease in your titles, such as stuff that might come as a pleasant surprise to people.
For example, you can create an article titled “6 myths about diabetes – number 5 might shock you!” and cover two elements in the same title: you’re teasing a list based article and a shocking surprise, which will drive curiosity and shares. Another element that you can add to a title that people will want to click on is a teased answer. Let’s develop a second example with this element:
Let’s use the “We Challenged 6 Health Food claims – This is What We Found”. You added a teased answer to that title, increasing its value to people seeing it!
You also have to mind the structure of your titles. We recommend you check your titles before you post them with Portent’s idea generator. Simply go to “portent.com”, click on “tools”, look up the “idea generator” and enter your title in the text field. The idea generator will analyze your title and give you ideas to polish it!
Images are great previews for your posts, and are a great compliment to your title. A well-placed image under a well-crafted title will make a huge difference between getting lots of traffic and attention, versus getting just a few clicks here and there. You will always need to accompany your title and body of your posts with high quality images.
What makes a great image viral? Depending on what your title promotes and what your actual content is about, you might get away with using a common image or you might not, especially when your viral content is all about something really specific.
The important thing to keep in mind when using images is that you have to use images that are both fun and relevant to your post. Where can you find viral images? There are three great venues for finding high quality viral images.
The first one is “tumblr.com”. There, you will be able to find tons of funny images related to whatever keyword you look up. Just right click on the image that you want to use and save it to your computer.
Another free resource to find images is “pinterest”. Just use the search bar to look up any keyword or topic, select your images and save them! Our last recommended free resource is “Google images”. Search for images by keywords or topics and save them to your computer. It would be wise to reference the website where you located the image in your post, however.
Finally, a really good way to find images is by using paid databases, where you are guaranteed to find basically any type of image under the sun. We recommend you use “Getty”. Go to “gettyimages.com”, create an account and dig inside its marketplace!
The heart and guts of a viral post is ultimately found in its content. One can argue and say that great content is a combination of titles, images and the body of text. The truth is that cool, viral content is something that people will want to share after checking it. The reason that a post goes viral can be a single video, image or piece of text from within a whole article, but it can also be a combination.
That is why you have to use great care when crafting the content of your posts. A rule of thumb is, depending on the subject, you have to create content that viewers can identify with, while making good use of the tools and resources discussed above.
This is an example of a post crafted to go viral, with an attention grabbing title and list based content and a unique, very creative image. If you would rather concentrate on the technical aspects of your site, or if researching is eating up your entire time, you can easily outsource the creation of your content. “Fiverr.com” is a great place to look for people eager to work on your content.
You can search freelancers to create content for you by categories, like “creative writing” or “articles and blog posts”. You can also get a little more specific and search freelancers by using keywords, such as “viral content” and find those specializing in it!