Content Strategy

The Magic Formula for Viral Content

Social Media Editor at Entrepreneur.com
2 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Have you been searching for that magic formula to make your blog posts or articles go viral? It may seem like sheer luck, but there’s a method to the madness.

BuzzSumo, a content marketing firm, analyzed 100 million articles to see what kind of content gets shared the most. The company’s founder shared the full results in a long post on OKDork, but we’ve boiled down a few that could be helpful for your business:

1. Write long-form content. (Yes, seriously!)
BuzzSumo analyzed the top 10 percent most shared articles, and found long-form content gets shared more than short-form. Pieces with 3,000 to 10,000 words get an average of 8,850 total shares.

The takeaway? In the 24 hour news cycle, the long-form pieces just aren’t out there. So if a company puts in the time and effort into a well researched and thought out piece, it stands out and gets shared.

To be sure, short-form content certainly has its place, too, as there is probably no need to write 3,000 words on Twitter’s latest update.

Related: Why Engaging Online Content Is a Must for SEO

2. Inspire awe, laughter or amusement.
If your post can invoke the emotion of awe, you’ve got a winner. Of the top 10,000 articles shared, 25 percent of them appealed to the emotion of awe. Awe encompasses so much -- wonder, horror, amazement.

Anger or sadness doesn’t resonate with a reader.

People share to define themselves, to provide entertainment to others and to get the word out about something they care about.

People also share for selfish reasons. Think about your Facebook feed. How many quizzes do you see on a daily basis? We hope that what we share shapes our online identity and how we are perceived. Appeal to the narcissistic side of your audience.

3. Know the magic list number.
Lists with the number “10” received the most social shares. Next up are 23, 16 and 24.

4. Add a byline.
Content with a byline is deemed more trustworthy, therefore, it gets more shares. Google+ articles with bylines get 42 percent more shares than those without.

One caveat: Content with or without a byline that is shared on Facebook doesn’t seem to make a difference.

Related: 5 Tricks to Producing Quality Content

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