Everyone wants their content to go ‘viral’. But not everyone knows there’s actually a science to it.
27 million pieces of content are shared, every damn day. That’s a lot of eyeballs.
Let’s just take that in for a second.
And, at the time of this article, 64.3 million new posts are published every month. That’s a lot of competition for attention.
Here’s a unpleasant truth about content marketing you’ll have to face now:
Content creation might be hard, but getting people to read your stuff can be even harder.
Successful content marketers have analyzed what works and what doesn’t. There are special elements to each piece of viral content—no pixie dust or magic needed.
In the beginning, I know blogging is a bit overpowering. While there are more data-determined techniques that can be used to help you create viral content, I’ve honed in on a few that I feel are insanely effortless to execute right away.
Here are 7 simple ways to boost your content’s performance (backed by science)!
1. Use Colourful Visuals
- According to an article by Kissmetrics, 65% of people are visual learners, 90% of information that comes to the brain is optical and presentations with good graphics are 43% more compelling (and engaging). (Source)
- Researchers found that colored visuals increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80%.
- Articles with images get 94% more views on social media than without.
- Split up the body of text with relevant images (screen shots, professional stock photos, infographics for example). Readers will be more
inclined to read your content to the end. Good rule of them for breaking up text? Every 150 words.
- Always use a feature image (also known as a post thumbnail)—social shares with images get more retweets (150%).
- Use a colourful image above the fold of your content (the top half of your webpage).
- Always choose the best quality possible—content with professional photos got 45% more shares on Facebook.
2. Always Be Useful
- A study titled “What Makes Online Content Viral” by Jonah Berger and Katherine Milkman from the University of Pennsylvania analyzed nearly 7,000 New York Times articles. Berger found that useful, educational and practical content was 34% more likely to be shared.
- Create practical listicles and step-by-step guides.
- Use clear tips and tactics they implement immediately.
- Use the same language your readers use—they’ll connect more with the content, and be more inclined to share.
3. Get a Little Emotional
- Content that elicits emotions such as ‘awe’, ‘surprise’ or ‘anger’ is 28.6% more likely to go viral, according to a study published in the Journal of Marketing Research.
- Surprise readers with new data that challenges the status quo.
- Craft an insanely long-form pieces that delve into every single imaginable detail about the topic (awe).
- Use controversy when appropriate. It’s a shoe-in for eliciting some anger from your readers—just be sure backup your opinions with persuasive arguments.
4. Use Shorter Sentences
- Short sentences boost your content readability by 58%.
- Work on your intro, it’s one of the most important elements of your content and the only opportunity to hook readers in.
- Mix the length of your sentences within a paragraph. Using a short sentence after a few long ones makes it stand out.
- Keep paragraphs to three sentences or less.
5. Make Text Scannable
- 79% of readers scan text online, not read word for word
- Scannable versions of content increased readability by 47%
- Use appropriate subheads—think, how can I best break this topic up?
- Include bulleted or numbered lists within your content
- Make use of white —it helps the eye follow content easier.
6. Publish Long(er) Content
- Dr. Jonah Berger also found that lengthier content was 52% more likely to be shared.
- Data on Google’s top search results also shows that average content length is over 2000 words on top ranking pages.
- Buzzsumo analyzed 100 million articles and found that longer form content received more shares.
- Create evergreen content—pieces that stay fairly relevant for some time.
- Make sure your content is truly practical, useful and educationl. If it is, then hitting a high word count won’t be super difficult.
- Find evergreen topics you can write well about.
- Aim for 1500 words or more.
- Brush up on your marketing research skills—if you’re writing in-depth, detailed posts, you’ll want to back up your points with data and scientific studies.
7. Craft Killer Headlines
- 80% of readers don’t make it past the headline
- Web traffic can vary as much as 500% based on the headline
- Use numbers in your headlines. A study by Outbrain revealed that odd-numbered headlines have a better click-through-rate.
- Use brackets for added clarity. Hubspot determined that click-through-rates of headlines with brackets can increase by 38%
- Be ultra-specific with your language
- Create a sense of urgency—why do readers need to know what you’re sharing?
Here’s What to Do Next
Everyone wants their content to perform well, but not everyone puts the time and the effort in.
Making your content readable is more important than you think—Google likes readable content, and readers engage with it too, which means they’ll share it.
By implementing the tactics covered, you’ll be on the right path to creating content your readers will love.
I’d love to know how your content performance changed after implementing these tactics. Let me know in a comment or email me to share your experience with creating readable content!