Going viral needs engagement - experts realise | The Commenting Club
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17 out of 133 experts realise going viral needs engagement

going viral needs engagement

I had the great gratification of being invited to contribute to the Roundup post How Online Business Can Get Viral on Social Media?

133 'experts' were asked for their opinion as to what contributes to a post going viral. It was interesting to read which various techniques and methods were suggested, but only 17 (myself included) bothered to think about commenting and engagement.

There was all the usual stuff about focusing on the audience, tapping into their emotions and riding the wave of trends, etc. All these are certainly valid, but for me it is the popularity of the post which triggers readers to engage.

Popularity happens because a lot of people have commented. And people comment because others have already done so, and they don't want to miss out. There is this overriding desire to be where the action is, and become part of the scene.

And people have also engaged and commented because the post has triggered a reaction from them. It has tapped into their emotions, made them laugh, resonated with their lives and made them think of someone else who would also enjoy this content.

You need to stimulate your audience!

"You can’t have viral content if you don’t have an engaged community to amplify it."
Robert Katai • Find his contribution here

No blog post or social update has the remotest chance of going viral if there isn't an audience to help promote it. You could post the most amazing content in the world, but if nobody sees it, nothing will happen. And this audience needs to be on your side as well, not just passing through.

"Communicate with your audience! No matter the business, people want to be heard and listened to. Communication with your audience is key."
Mariya Zafironva • Find her contribution here

How often have you bothered to speak to your readers or ask your followers for their point of view? The process of going viral isn't a selfish one-way ticket, it needs interaction from everybody else on board to make things happen!

You could get help elsewhere...

"Look for ways to interact naturally with influencers on social media – for example, by tagging them in your content – without coming on too strong."
Andrew • Find his contribution here

A lot of the experts mentioned using influencers to help them. They recognised they have fantastic audiences, but guess what? They accrued these audiences because they engaged with them, asking for feedback and delivering what was wanted. Constant communication not only kept up the interest, but made them more attractive to new people as well.

Remember who you are

"Social media users are also getting wiser these days, so it pays to be genuine, engaging, and transparent to give you a more humanised persona. Talk like a human being. Interact like a human. Indulge in a bit of humour even (if it’s consistent with your branding). The more 'human' your brand is, the more users want to engage, which is paramount to gaining any sort of virality."
Jayzel Florendo • Find her contribution here

People relate to people and their personal experiences. If they can sense a connection, an affiliation which is similar to their own lives, a bond is created between them and the author. It's all about getting your readers or followers on your side, and understand you better, before they respond.

Bravely showing your human-side is scary, but it is what your audience needs to make them feel comfortable with you. You need to gain their trust before they are compelled to engage by commenting or sharing your post or update. Then the ultimate aim about going viral just gets a little closer.

Find the right concept for going viral

"It is important that you engage with your followers so that you catch the user’s attention, resulting in a high social media presence, which will increase your chances of going viral."
Andrew Ruditser • Find his contribution here

The more you engage with your readers or followers, the more popular you appear to be. This will attract the attention of the algorithms, resulting in a further reach (getting in front of more potential engagers). And so the cycle continues.

"Posting engaging content which is relatable for your target audience at the right time, is the key to earn success on social media platforms."
Jitesh Keswani • Find his contribution here

Find a subject or concept which immediately taps into what your audience is looking for. What would spark a reaction from them, or provides them with something so incredible they cannot get it anywhere else. Something which is instantly sharable with a very large crowd and what would encourage even more sharing from them too.

"Your targeted audience is more likely to engage with a post if they can connect on a personal level."
Jason Chow • Find his contribution here

Which element of the post you want going viral do you think would resonate most with your audience? If you have managed to work this out, emphasise it by lacing it with more beneficial information which could make a difference to their lives.

Does making them laugh make them feel better? Would shocking them cause an explosive reaction? How are you making your audience feel? Have you used empathy to trigger a response? Focus on provoking a reply from them about their experiences.

Forget about your business

"Don’t Just Promote Your Business But Socialise:
Let’s not forget that the purpose of these social sites is to be social and to engage with people. So, make sure you’re not just promoting your products and services because if you keep doing that, your reach will tank, and people will not be interested in engaging with your content. So, make sure to also share content that doesn’t talk about your business and gives value to others like a quote or a picture or story, etc. Doing so also helps you to build your page authority and profile on these social sites."
Neil Jose • Find his contribution here

Commenting is not an opportunity to promote. Its main purpose should be to talk to your readers. Continue the conversation to gain insights into how they think, so you can give them what they want. This is which results in posts going viral. A satisfied reader is much more likely to share and comment than one who hasn't benefited from what they've read.

However, those who only comment to plug their latest venture, or to get a link back to their websites, will soon get short shrift. Nobody's interested in sales here. This practice doesn't fit within this situation and will get instantly deleted. It is undermining the author and shows increasingly bad manners in a medium meant solely for engagement.

"We focus on a slow, steady build of authentic engagement that converts and grows a following that aligns with the company's mission."
Kari DePhillips • Find her contribution here

Engagement will only convert if you know exactly what to say. The conversation should be highly relevant and pertinent, and the language used needs to resonate with the recipient, with the subject actually mattering to them. Sometimes 'aligning with the company's mission' could result in stilted and boring engagement, so I suggest businesses need to 'lighten up' a bit more.

Focus on getting a response

"Respond To Every Single Comment For Better Engagement:
Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn value a comment more than a like that you get for your posts. Every time your post gets a comment, it shows these social sites that your content is good. So, always respond to every comment that you receive. And make sure you ask questions in your response rather than directly answering to the comment. Doing this helps get you more comments which eventually results in getting your content viral on these social sites."
Neil Jose • Find his contribution here

I read somewhere that a comment needs to be more than four words to get counted as engagement by the social platform's algorithms. Otherwise it is just banter or noise. This may be entertaining for those doing it, but not necessarily for others. It is gaining mass interest and responses which results in content going viral.

Responding with fuller and more extensive comments provides further information, which could encourage others to respond. Your extra words could trigger an idea, resonate with an experience, dredge up a story which is worth telling. It is this sharing within engagement which gives permission for others to share as well.

"Engage with your followers by asking questions and encouraging comments. Respond ASAP whenever your target user mentions your business."
Vaibhav Pandya • Find his contribution here

Questions are extremely powerful in provoking a response. Who can resist a well-formed query you know the answer to? As long as the reader feels comfortable enough with the author and the platform they are on, they will easily be compelled to reply.

"...engage your social media audience through asking questions, polls, visual content like images and videos, using hashtags (but keep to key ones that represent your audience and your brand), encourage sharing – not only sharing what you put up but solicit your audience sharing content they have found useful.
Sue Duris • Find her contribution here

Relax the situation with colourful imagery. Pictures say much more than words. This is why moving gifs are so eye-catching and can relieve the tension within engagement. If humour or recognition is also present, this adds to the overall ambience and helps people to open up and contribute.

Enticing your audience to actually do something, such as contributing with a comment or participating within a conversation, means they are engaging. This action makes all the difference to a static readership, and breaks the ice for others to join in as well.

"Always include a CTA (call to action) message on your posts to encourage your audience to engage. Samples are: 'What are your thoughts? Share it on the comments below!' or 'We’d love to see your photo with (Product name)!'."
Ben Harper • Find his contribution here

The concept of questions can be extended through call to actions at the bottom of your posts or updates. Give the reader or follower a reason to comment by offering a suggestion, seeding an idea or providing a provoking question to spark a response. Not everybody is compelled to find the commenting box without thinking about it first. A bit of stimulation in the right area can go a long way...

Stop and listen as well

"As a brand, participate on others’ social media accounts – listen, engage and share – this is the best way to build trust. When you earn their trust, they will reward you. Listening to them and engaging with them to build trust will result in them listening to and trusting in you.
"Consider tone of voice. When in doubt, always opt for a friendly, conversational tone which is more inviting and engaging.
"I’d say the last piece is listening and being responsive. I put it last but really it is the most important. Listen to what your audience wants and if questions are asked, engage, when your content is shared or other types of engagement, thank the person and then engage them. All and all, be responsive. Responsiveness on social is the #1 thing customers care about."
Sue Duris • Find her contribution here

Social listening is a great tool to help you understand your audience and therefore create a good impression. Sitting back in the shadows to read, watch and listen first means you will learn enough to avoid creating an unnecessary faux pas. Then you will be primed ready to start engaging correctly from the off.

Listening is a skill which is greatly neglected. You could also see it as stopping to take time to understand the situation. Read between the lines, put yourself in the other person's shoes, see their point of view, ask the right questions and your engaging will rarely go wrong.

You also have the opportunity to find and use the right words which fits the scenario. Understand what makes your audience tick, and then engage with them at the same level. Find out what they want and then give it to them. This is the perfect basis for creating content for going viral.

Try taming the algorithms

"Make an effort to build content that creates high engagement. All the most important social media websites have an algorithm used to rank content based on user engagement.
"If you have content that will likely engage followers, it will be placed on the top of the page, while content that is likely to be less engaging will be ranked at the bottom. Plus, engaging content is rewarded with amplification by other users. Marketers should always try to build content with high engagement because they will receive more shares and reach a broader audience."
Erik Emanuelli • Find his contribution here

It's not always easy to 'beat the algorithms', as the blasted things keep changing their criteria. But you could always play with the fact that they respond to popularity. If a post gets lots of comments and engagement, stands to reason it must contain content people are interested in.

A popular post or update with heavy engagement needs to be given further reach to get in front of more people. It obviously is stuffed with important information, so deserves a wider exposure. And increased interaction enhances this popularity, making it more attractive to readers, algorithms and goodness knows who else.

"Use a social platform that best suits your business. Engage your audience on the channel they spend most of their time."
Hiral Rana Dholakiya • Find her contribution here

It is important to consider if you are speaking to the right people on social media. Research who would be interested in your content, and then tag them in the comments to introduce them to your post. Ask them what they think or whether they would share it with their colleagues.

"Content goes viral after others engage with it, which then tells the algorithm of the platform that your content is valuable so it shares it with other people in your network and so on. That’s how 'things go viral'. But you’re not going to know what captures your audiences attention and makes them engage (like, share, comment) without showing up for them regularly with high-value content."
Dave Orecchio • Find his contribution here

Part of engaging with your audience is getting to know, like and trust them. The reasons are not only to find out more about each other, but also to make them feel more comfortable with you. Once you've achieved this, they start to relax and comment more.

However, you have to do some work on this. Because during your process of knowing, liking and trusting you've found out how you can help your audience, you need to continuously show up and provide value as a constant presence. If you post enough, eventually some of your stuff will have the potential for going viral.

How do I recommend going viral?

I have written a post about this: How to make your posts go viral. I used a lot of this as part of my contribution (as the 17th person) to the Roundup post mentioned at the beginning. Read it and enjoy – I say so much more within it!

And if you want tell me what you think about all of this going viral business, you're more than welcome – the comment box is just below.

Alice Elliott
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  • Meet Hugo says:

    This is a great post! Engagement really is key. The whole point of social media is to be “social,” right? 🙂 Thank you for featuring our quote!

    • Hi Hugo, thank you for commenting. Sure social media is social, but this post says engagement is needed to make a post viral. Nothing will happen if there isn’t an audience to boost it, and you have to sweet talk your readers into helping you make it go viral.

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