9 'Cheats' to Make Your Content Go Viral These common formats can seriously increase your content's shareability.

By Carol Roth

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Have you ever found yourself lost in an article that read something along the lines of, "12 Ways Your Life is Like a Harry Potter Novel" and then thought to yourself, "Why am I reading this?" There's a good reason why you are trapped in the Internet content rabbit-hole. There are certain formats for packaging content that are commonly used by the media as a hook to get you to click on the underlying content.

As creating and communicating content is critical for businesses and business professionals, you want to know the best way to get people to read and share the content you have created. Here are nine common formats to help you package the content you create so that you can get more people to read and share it.

1. "X' lists, ways and tips

Just as I did with the title to this article, putting things into compelling lists is a great way to get clicks and shares. Creating your content within the context of "Top 5 Ways" or "10 Tips" is an easy method for readers to consume content.

Related: The Rocky and Bullwinkle Effect: Why You Should Consider Marketing to Multiple Audiences

2. Common myths

Busting a myth is one way to get someone's attention. Curiosity naturally makes you want to know what it is that you don't know. Think about an angle like, "4 Myths on Why Technology is Expensive for SMBs". Just make sure that if you are using this format, you are actually dispelling a widely held belief or it won't work.

3. Common pitfalls

Like busting a myth, people always want to know what missteps they should be avoiding. So when possible, frame your content from the perspective of pitfalls that they should be on the lookout for, such as, "Common Technology Pitfalls that Cost SMBs Thousands of Dollars a Year."

4. Compare groups

Humans are competitive and we like to see that competition manifested between groups with some semblancy of a rivalry. Compare women vs. men, small business vs. big business, millennials vs. boomers or make similar comparisons. An example would be, "Why Women are Embracing Technology More Quickly Than Men."

5. Make an unexpected challenge of the norm

Probably one of the most successful angles that you can take is to challenge a common perspective that's widely held. I got a lot of click-through and social sharing on "Why Smart People Make Bad Entrepreneurs" and "Why Shark Tank's "Mr. Wonderful' Thinks Women Make Better CEOs". The second got double duty, given that not only was the women CEO angle a challenge of common thinking, but you also wouldn't have expected that would have been Kevin O'Leary's take either.

Related: Email Subject Lines Can Really Suck. Here's How to Make Yours Better.

6. Percentages and amounts

Adding in numbers gives scope to content. Writing something like, "Why 90 Percent of SMBs are Vulnerable to Hacks" emphasizes its significance. I also tend to see success with anything that features some reference to "millions," such as with "How 3 Entrepreneurs Went from Welfare to Multi-Million Business". If you use this format, ensure that your amount is significant. My first example wouldn't be compelling if it were only 3 percent vs. the 90 percent.

7. Celebrity and pop culture

Love it or hate it, tying into hot celebrities, TV shows, movies and the like can be a great way to attract attention. For example, I used, "From Oprah to the Kardashians: 6 Celebrity-Inspired Business Lessons" as a way to package up good entrepreneurial learnings.

8. News tie-in

If you can find a way to present content tied to an ongoing news story or event, it can really pay off in engagement. During the NHL Playoffs, I wrote, "What Entrepreneurs can learn from Pro Hockey" (and yes, my Chicago Blackhawks did win the Stanley Cup, thank you). News tie-ins can get a great boost from being in the news cycle, but are probably the least "evergreen" of all of the content formats you can create.

9. Calendar tie-in

Finally, intertwining your content with a major calendar event such as a holiday is yet another way to get attention. Plus, you get the bonus of being able to plan it in advance. For Valentine's Day, you could go down the path of, "4 Tech-Savvy Ways to Love Your Business."

While your content needs to be stellar, having the right packaging will help it become read and shared. Using these cheats both saves you time and gains you that impact.

Related: A Quick Guide to Mastering Twitter for Business

Wavy Line
Carol Roth

Entrepreneur, TV host and small business expert

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, a “recovering” investment banker, business advisor, entrepreneur and best-selling author. She is also a reality TV show judge, media contributor and host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. A small business expert, Roth has worked with companies of all sizes on everything from strategy to content creation and marketing to raising capital. She’s been a public company director and invests in mid-stage companies, as well.

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