In the digital age, going viral is like striking gold. It's the holy grail of online success that can catapult your brand, content, or message into the global spotlight. But what exactly does it mean to "go viral," and why is it so greatly desired from brands and marketers everywhere? And more importantly, how can you create viral content? In this blog, we explore all, including the role of the “S.H.I.N.E” five levels of fandom model.
Ok, so let’s start with what the term actually means. “Going viral” refers to the rapid and widespread dissemination of content, often driven by social media sharing. It's when your post, video, meme, or message catches fire and spreads like wildfire across the internet. It's the moment when your creation transcends its initial audience and reaches millions, capturing the collective attention of the online world.
So, why is it so attractive? The impact of virality is unparalleled. It can skyrocket your brand's visibility, attract hordes of new followers or customers, and generate buzz that money just can't buy. Some viral content becomes a part of popular culture, sparking conversations, inspiring trends, and leaving an indelible mark on the digital landscape.
It’s important to note that the path to virality is not a guaranteed one. For every viral sensation, there are countless forgotten attempts. Virality is as elusive as it is enticing. It requires a mix of creativity, timing, relatability, and to be honest…sheer luck. Yet, the rewards are worth the effort. Viral content can lead to increased brand awareness, engagement, and conversions, making it a goal totally worth pursuing.
Now that you understand what going viral means and why it’s the crème de la crème of the social media marketing world, some questions may come to mind. How can you make content go viral? Is there a formula or secret sauce that guarantees success? While there's no foolproof recipe, understanding the psychology behind virality and following some simple steps can significantly improve your chances.
At the heart of viral content lies emotion. Viral content elicits strong feelings, whether it's laughter, awe, anger, inspiration, or empathy. Emotions drive people to share content because they want others to experience the same intense reactions. The more emotionally resonant your content is, the more likely it is to go viral.
Viral content often addresses universal themes or relatable experiences. It taps into shared human emotions and experiences that transcend cultural and linguistic boundaries. It's content that anyone, regardless of their background, can understand and connect with. Think about the content that sits under your brand umbrella, but then how to make this more relatable to a wider audience. Consider your Total Addressable Market for each of the content buckets: educate, entertain, engage, inspire.
Virality thrives on sharing. The more easily shareable your content is, the higher the likelihood of it going viral. This includes creating content that can be shared on various social media platforms, incorporating social sharing buttons, and even prompting users to share explicitly.
Timing plays a crucial role in virality. Riding the wave of current trends, events, or cultural moments can propel your content into the spotlight. Also known as Trend-jacking, when this is done tastefully and authentically, it can give your content the momentum it needs to go viral.
Viral content often surprises or challenges expectations. It breaks the mold and offers something fresh and unexpected. Whether it's a twist in a story, a novel perspective, or a unique approach, the element of surprise can captivate audiences.
Platform algorithms act as the gatekeepers of virality, shaping which content gets seen and shared. Every social media platform has its algorithmic quirks which maximize the probability virability:
Think of the engagements you receive on your content as a little digital applause, each one signaling what the algorithm should do next with the content.
You wouldn’t expect to win the lottery without buying a ticket every week, right? The odds would be totally against you. Just like this, consistency is the heartbeat of virality. It’s all about showing up, putting yourself in the best possible position to go viral. Maintaining a reliable content schedule keeps your brand in your audience's thoughts. It aligns with platform algorithms that favor regular engagement, and it fosters loyal followers. A consistent tone and style also reinforces your brand identity.
While there's no guaranteed path to virality, these seven key principles can help guide your content creation efforts and increase your content's viral potential. In the next section, we'll introduce you to the S.H.I.N.E. model, a powerful tool for understanding and engaging with different segments of your audience and its role in your journey to creating viral content. But first, let’s take a look at two examples of brands achieving virality through their content.
A reported $150 million was spent on marketing for the 2023 Warner Bros Barbie movie. That’s more than the movie cost to make! But it’s fair to say that it paid off as, unless you’re living under a rock, it’s a sure bet you saw some kind of Barbie movie promotion in the run up.
Alongside the tantalizing trailers that got everyone on social media excited, the movie’s marketing team created a free AI-powered selfie-generator tool. In seconds, users could create personalized versions of the movie poster, and then share them on social media. The result? Free word-of-mouth marketing that took the online world by storm. From influencers to big name celebs - the genius meme campaign meant big expose for little cost. Even celebrities like Zooey Deschanel got involved.
While the Barbie movie is a great example of how a multi-million dollar budget conjoined with an excellent marketing strategy can achieve amazing results, it’s not just the big guys who are going viral on social media. In fact, a huge number of small businesses are capitalizing on the potential of TikTok marketing.
According to a Capterra survey of 164 retail and restaurant businesses, most small businesses now use TikTok for marketing, and 78% of those who use it have realized a positive return on investment from the platform.
Let’s take UK-based Indian restaurant, Urban Tandoor Bristol as an example. The small restaurant has achieved over five million likes and 141.5k followers on TikTok. How? The brand has truly cracked the code when it comes to creating funny and relatable content that hits every time. It shows that you don’t have to create content that is solely connected to your business
Their marketing team regularly puts out content that focuses on the restaurant's staff creating parodies and jumping on trends. The result is huge levels of engagement and consequent bookings at the restaurant.
In the quest for online virality, understanding your audience is so important. Enter the S.H.I.N.E. model, a powerful tool developed by Steel Croissant to help businesses just like yours unlock the mysteries of audience engagement and increase your chances of going viral.
But what does S.H.I.N.E stand for? Keep reading to find out.
Superfans are the crown jewels of your audience. They are your most devoted followers, the ones who eagerly anticipate your content, engage with it the most (at least 80%), and passionately promote your brand. Superfans have an emotional connection with your content, and they are the first to like, share, and comment.
Winning these over is the key to unlocking that next level. The more Superfans engage with the post, the more it will signal to the algorithm to move it onto the next level.
Habituals are the regulars in your audience. They consistently consume your content, follow your updates, and actively engage with your brand. While they may not be as intensely passionate as Superfans, they are reliable and form a significant part of your audience. This audience type plays a crucial role in maintaining consistent engagement.
Industry Insiders are your niche experts and enthusiasts. They possess in-depth knowledge of your industry or niche and often contribute valuable insights and expertise. Engaging with Industry Insiders can help you establish credibility and gain industry-specific recognition.
Their endorsement can be a powerful catalyst for virality within your brand niche. It’s where the algorithm tests your content with people who aren’t as familiar with you to see how it resonates. If your posts get good engagement, the algorithm will continue to serve it out. But if it stops, it’s going to slowly die down. If you can win over this audience type, you’ll move onto the next level.
Newcomers are the fresh faces in your audience. They are just beginning to discover your brand or content and may have limited exposure to your previous work. It’s only going to be the real stand-out posts that get engagement at this tier. Newcomers represent an opportunity to expand your audience - but remember, the key to this is by widening your net in terms of the relatable content you are creating.
Explorers are the least familiar with your brand. They are at the outermost circle of your audience and may have had minimal exposure to your content - the furthest people from your target audience. This is the hardest audience type to capture since they don’t really care about what you have to say. So, if you want to win them over, your content has to have a wide appeal. Engaging Explorers is all about capturing their attention and guiding them toward deeper engagement. They represent untapped potential for growth.
In the modern digital age, where social media marketing plays such an integral part in business success, going viral is the ultimate goal. Those lucky ones who achieve it get to experience an unprecedented surge in visibility and engagement. Going viral means transcending the boundaries of your immediate audience and capturing the collective attention of the online world. It's a moment of digital stardom where your content, brand, or message takes center stage, resonating with millions and sparking conversations across diverse online communities.
The impact is not just fleeting; it can catapult your brand into the global spotlight, attracting hordes of new followers, customers, and generating buzz that money simply can't buy. In essence, going viral in the digital landscape is a transformative event that can redefine the trajectory of a brand's online presence.
Sounds great, right?! The bad news is that getting there is no guarantee for anyone. But the good news is that with a solid strategy and a sprinkle of good luck and timing, it’s possible for all brands to achieve virality with their content. Remember the vital steps outlined in this blog including creating emotionally resonating content that is relatable and universal, jumping onto trends, and taking into account what each platform’s algorithm takes into account. Finally, don’t forget to consider all five audience types of the S.H.I.N.E model when creating your content.
Need help in navigating the road to content virality? Steel Croissant can help with all aspects of social media marketing, from creating buyer personas to designing an effective posting schedule to get you on the right track for the channels you choose. Get in touch today!
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Creating viral content involves a combination of creativity, relatability, and strategic promotion. Viral content often resonates with a broad audience by tapping into universal emotions, trends, or cultural phenomena. Crafting content that elicits strong emotions, surprises, or entertains significantly increases the likelihood of it being shared widely. Leveraging current trends, understanding the target audience, and incorporating shareable elements like humor or awe can contribute to the viral success of content.
Yes, timing is crucial in achieving viral stardom. Being aware of current events, trends, and peak online activity times allows content creators to strategically release their content for maximum impact. Aligning content with trending topics or capitalizing on cultural moments enhances the relevance and shareability of the content, increasing its potential to go viral.
Social media platforms play a pivotal role in boosting viral reach. Utilizing popular platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok allows content to reach a vast audience quickly. Leveraging hashtags, collaborating with influencers, and participating in challenges or trends on these platforms can amplify content visibility. Encouraging audience engagement through comments, shares, and likes also contributes to the algorithmic promotion of content, increasing the chances of it going viral.
While there's no guaranteed formula for achieving viral stardom, certain elements can be replicated to increase the chances of success. Studying past viral content, understanding audience preferences, and consistently creating high-quality, shareable content contribute to replicable strategies. However, the unpredictable nature of virality means that external factors, timing, and a bit of luck often play a role. By refining content creation processes based on insights and trends, creators can enhance their chances of achieving viral success.
After content goes viral, it's crucial to capitalize on the momentum. Engaging with the audience through comments, responding to shares, and actively participating in discussions foster a sense of community around the content. Leveraging the attention to promote other relevant content, products, or services helps sustain interest beyond the viral moment. Additionally, monitoring analytics and understanding the audience demographics can inform future content strategies, creating a pathway for continued success in the digital landscape.