So many marketers and brands try desperately to get their content viral in an effort to gain their brand instant exposure and drive traffic back to their site.

It’s such a hard thing to do, though, especially if you’re looking to target viral content for a specific niche audience that has explicit likes and dislikes.

Hitting the viral jackpot also depends heavily on social media usage. It’s essential; normal people have the power to decide whether something’s funny, heart-warming, or shocking enough to be shared with their friends and family.

Social media also has the power to consign something to the gutter. We may be seeing a lot more content heading that way; Facebook has announced that it’s changed its algorithm again so that people can choose to decide if something’s not worth watching in a viral sense.

 

Will Recent Social Updates Shoot Down Your Chances Of Going Viral?

 

On Facebook viral stories will now be ranked lower if people decide they’re not worth watching the company announced on its News FYI blog.

“It’s hard to predict when or why posts go viral. Sometimes this happens because lots of people are really interested in seeing that particular post. However, sometimes a post goes viral and many people tell us that they weren’t interested in seeing it, despite lots of people liking, sharing and commenting on it.”

Testing’s going on and it’s all very diplomatic. Decisions and algorithm updates will be made with the assistance of customer surveys, with people being presented with two stories, choosing which ones appeal to them most.

Your Turn: Have you ever had a post or a piece of content go viral? What were the overall effects on your brand and did it help you bring in more business? Let me know in the comments section below.

Power to the people

It’s bound to be a disappointment for some content marketers who see going viral as a huge part of their campaigns, and believe it’ll bring about a new string to their brand’s bow.

You could argue that Facebook’s leading the way, though, too. Probably one of my biggest bugbears this year has been the spread of misinformation socially, and brands taking advantage of social influencers and social networks to advertise dishonestly.

Facebook insist that this process is part of helping to stop that content getting the attention it thinks it deserves, with the social network saying that users don’t want to see ‘hoax’ style content that typically attracts thousands of likes, views, and shares.

“With the hoaxes example, if the majority of people taking the survey say they would rather see another story in their feed than the viral hoax story, then we’ll infer the story might not be as interesting, and show the viral story lower down in people’s feeds in the future,” they add.

 

Facebook users don’t want to see ‘hoax’ style content

 

That can only ever be a good thing, not just in an informative way but to also stop people getting duped into giving away sensitive personal information (i.e. posts such as ‘Facebook is changing! Send us your password and we’ll protect you!’).

Facebook’s not the only one fiddling with its algorithm. Twitter, which isn’t going through the best of times, has changed its design so Favourites are now Likes and has also decide to drop share counts on tweets.

The latter has been a hugely unpopular decision with content amplification platform Shareaholic reporting that, since Twitter dropped share counts on 20 November, the ‘share of voice’ has dropped by a whopping 11.28 per cent in the space of a fortnight for over 300,000 websites.

That kind of drop so quickly can be devastating, especially for sites that publish content and want it to be shared organically through a Twitter share button. Again, that can’t be good news for content creators and brands looking to go viral.

Your Turn: What’s the best piece of viral content you’ve seen over the course of 2015, and what’s been your favourite marketing campaign of the year? Let me know below!

Clever creative outreach

Regular readers will know I carry a ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ policy. Social media is incredibly important in helping content to go viral, but also to generate a committed readership of targeted followers.

And, as it’s not really advisable to rely on Google for all of your search optimisation techniques, so it’s similarly wise not to use one single social network to share your content.

The above changes may make it harder to get your content noticed, but on the other side of the coin it can help you refine your content and social strategy for better targeting and, ultimately, being more risky with creative ideas.

Take Kit Kat, for instance. They’ve recently released a Christmas advert which is nothing more than a blank screen with a voiceover talking about how there isn’t a celebrity or jingle bell in sight. It follows the ‘Have a Break’ mantra, but it’s still a very bold move not to use any kind of visual identity whatsoever in a video advertisement.

 

 

And it’s got people talking and weighing in with their opinions, talking about what marketing should and shouldn’t be, whether it’s one of the great Christmas ads or a terrible statement piece… Exactly the kind of discussion brands crave when they invest in the marketing department.

Going viral is something that so many business owners crave (and something that some agencies wrongly promise they can provide) but as much of it is luck as well as social planning. Who would have ever thought a toddler biting a child’s finger would lead to widespread global acclaim?

Before you create the content take the time to study your audience first. Who’s it aimed at, and is it something that will resonate with them? Where do they spend their time online and why? And, most importantly, are there calls to action in the content so they can discover your brand and turn into potential customers?

A well thought-out strategy will give you more chance of going viral and getting noticed than just hitting and hoping through social media marketing ever will.

 

If you’d like to know more about how content marketing and social media marketing can help to grow your business contact a Webpresence expert now.

(Image: Framestore)