Our Five Ninja Rules for Social Media Viral Success

Getting your content to go viral isn't just luck, it's putting the best social media rules into practice to maximise the success. Here's how we do it.

Researching, writing, and sharing articles for your business’s blog is a time-consuming and exhaustive task, and there’s no guarantee of success. It takes practice and regular research into what’s working for others in your industry, and when you’re short on time or staff it all becomes a daunting task on your to-do list that gets continually pushed further and further down as a priority.

When you do have the time to create a content marketing masterpiece, it’s crucial to put every effort into making it work so that there’s a return on the time invested, preferably as new followers for your social media channels, relationships with new business partners, and new customers who you can convert into first-time, and repeat-purchase customers.

So what’s the trick for social media viral success?

To get the best out of the articles we create for our own clients we follow our own Five Ninja Rules to maximise the viral potential of the hard work we’ve put in — and today we’re going to share our the process of one of most successful strategies with you.

Be A Ninja - Our Five Ninja Rules for Social Media Viral Success

Five Ninja Rules for Viral Success

1. Publish On Your Own Website First

If your content is generating a lot of shares and associated traffic, you want to make sure these links are pointing at your site rather than anyone else’s. The only exception is when you are writing for a high-profile publication for credibility. Even then, you might decide to write a background piece on your own blog and link to your piece on the authority site.

Publishing on your own website and blog will not only bring you viral traffic from day one, but also build up brand awareness for your business as a credible and reliable source of information.

2. Write a Powerful Headline

Good headlines generate clicks, such as the following common formats:

  • 7 Ways to…
  • Five quick tips for successful…
  • The shocking truth about…
  • You won’t believe what happened when…

If you’re thinking that this all sounds a bit sensationalist and ‘Buzzfeed-y’ then… you’re right! But it works, why not join in on the success?

Of course you and I are much too sophisticated to fall prey to such obvious headlines as these, right?

Any serious marketing student can do worse than study the headlines on the trashiest tabloid newspaper websites. Anyone that can generate 133 comments in 3 hours for an article about a TV show host saying the word “Cult” has my respect.

See Daily Mail article “Wash your mouth out, Ruth! Viewers shocked to hear This Morning presenter insult Eamonn Holmes with a VERY rude word… but did they mishear?” (Clue: yes, they misheard).

Daily Mail Headline - Our Five Ninja Rules for Social Media Viral Success

3. Summarise at the Beginning

Include a brief summary at the start of a longer piece so people interested can bookmark it for later, or share without reading the whole thing (you’d be surprised how often this happens).

Remember that people use social media to fill spare minutes not hours, so making it easy to digest your content is important. This isn’t to say it should lack substance, but you should aim to give people with only a couple of spare minutes enough value to make them want to return later.

You’ll notice the most viral sites tend to keep articles fairly short and encourage grazing behaviour with links to other related articles, constantly trying to draw the reader to the next piece before they get decide to leave the site. The longer you can keep people and the more engaged they are, the better visibility your site will get both on Google and Facebook, which we believe both use usage metrics to influence ranking.

4. Be Mobile-Friendly

According to our own research from over 400 websites that we manage, traffic from social media tends to be between 65-80% mobile users, depending on the market, and the percentage is increasing every year.

According to the Pew Research Centre, every single online news outlet now receives the majority of their traffic from mobile, with the percentage varying between 60% (Daily Mail) and 80% (Buzzfeed). If your site isn’t mobile friendly then you’re losing sales and visitors every single day through lower visibility and higher bounce rate. What’s more, it’s not enough for your site to just ‘technically’ be mobile friendly. It actually needs to be easy to use and give as good an experience as it does on desktop.

Making sure your website and blog works well on mobile is an essential process for increasing the viral potential of your content.

5. Use Authority Figures and Tie-In Events

If you can tie your content into a current event or celebrity news, people’s radars will already be tuned to receiving your message.

As a fairly recent example, take a look at the number of hair transplant articles that mention English footballer Wayne Rooney to see how you can piggyback on celebrity news for maximum exposure.

Most of the clinics using him in their stories had no affiliation to him whatsoever, but recognised that even just mentioning him implied endorsement and made it more likely their content would be shared as interest was piqued enough for people to click onto the article to know more.

What’s your most successful tip for viral success?

You can find more details on how to get the best out of your social media marketing via our new book Profitable Social Media Marketing: How To Grow Your Business

Profitable Social Media Marketing - How To Grow Your Business
Tags: social marketing, social media, social media marketing, viral, viral marketing

About the Author

Tim is Head Ninja at Exposure Ninja and Europe's bestselling online marketing author.When he's not Ninja-ing he's playing in his band, going to the gym with his wife or fixing the destruction caused by their three fur babies, Ninja, Samurai and Shinobi.


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