Almost every day there is a question on Quora asking how to make your posts go viral.
This is an obsession with bloggers. It seems they haven't succeeded unless their content rampantly romps around the web.
However, this phenomenon is usually a one-off – unless you're some sort of celebrity whose posts, whatever the subject or how they are written, are instantly snapped up by their adoring fans.
For us lesser mortals, the reality is a little different. But there are things you can do to help your posts go viral, even in a small way.
Check out this infographic below:
And here's some code you could paste into your own posts (via the text mode) if you want to share this Infographic with your readers.
Give your readers what they want
You're not going to build up a regular readership if you fail to post the kind of content they want to read. So many bloggers write for themselves, and then wonder why nobody reads their stuff.
The first thing you need to do to make your posts go viral is to find out the latest trending topics. What are people reading about? What really rocks their boat? Which subject has an instant rapport? What instantly attracts people to read a post?
If you want a viral blog, you need to focus totally on your readers. Adapt any message you have to their point of view. Ride the wave of the latest vibe to get on top of the usual dross which is churned out every day.
Write instantly relatable content
People read content that not only interests them, but they have an affinity with it. Or they aspire to be like the celebrities mentioned. Perhaps they even hate the person concerned, and want to salaciously stalk this topic to make themselves feel better.
Viral subject matter is a strange beast. It is extremely fickle. It usually has no substance at all, and relies a lot on gossip, superfluous information and even fake news for sensationalist reasons.
Think carefully about what you are going to write about. Would it instantly attractive to the kind of public you want to engage with? And would it be what your grandmother would be happy to read?
Actually talk to your readers
Writing in a conversational style is paramount. Time for forget what your English teacher taught you at school. Blogging is not about writing essays, it's about communicating with your readers.
Have a conversation with your readers in your head, and then transcribe this into your post. You will find you repeat certain words, even your turn of phrase will be different. You may even need to put in ums and ahs to make your dialogue more plausible.
Conversations, if they are going well, naturally flow to a rhythm. Practice your writing skills to make this become second nature whenever you write a post. And remember, this style of writing is much more readable for your audience, which is what you are striving for.
Ask your readers to comment
This is a very simple call to action, and yet so many bloggers fail to do this. If you don't ask, you won't get. So by actually asking your readers to leave a comment after reading your post will have a much better result than if you didn't bother.
However, this can be improved by the way you ask for comments. Your commenting call to actions could include make suggestions your readers could comment about. Putting ideas into their heads will help trigger a more considered response than just 'Nice post'.
Getting comments is the first step to making your posts go viral. The more comments you get, the more popular your posts become. This is social proof what you are writing about is worth reading, which makes it more plausible to become viral.
Always reply to your commenters
You instantly double the amount of comments you have on your post when you reply to each one. This cheeky move not only looks impressive, it also shows to your commenters that you really care about them.
It is important to show your appreciation by thanking each commenter. Your replies should be as substantial and full as your commenters. The real advantage would be if you could continue the conversation stated by the comment, to encourage another reply.
A blogger who strives for their posts to go viral will need a regular and lively audience. Your replies to comments will show other readers this is a cool place to comment. Your responses should also focus on making your blog a more comfortable place for people to have their say.
Try to keep the party going
If you look at the comments of a viral post, you will probably find a lot of conversations happen there. Most comments are obvious statements, but sometimes a commenter will say something profound or sensational which will trigger a series of responses.
You may need to be ready to regulate these instantaneous contributions. Get your regular readers to help you police the discussion, and try to guide it in a more suitable direction. You don't want a slanging match raging on your blog which you can't control.
A full and lively commenting area is certainly an indication your posts have gone viral. Remember usually only 10% of readers bother to comment, so if you have touched a nerve or woken a sleeping giant with your post, pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
Maintain your popularity status
A well-populated blog with a huge amount of comments is every blogger's dream. The better you get at making your posts go viral, your reputation, even your celebrity status, will soar.
Popularity breeds more popularity. People cannot resist going where the action is. There is this innate reaction in our psyche to follow a crowd, and viral blogs is a prime example of this kind of event.
Your focus should be to maintain this popularity through writing suitable posts, regular replying to comments and encouraging as much discussion as possible. You need to cultivate your own loyal fanbase to continue your viral blog's success.
Build your own loyal fanbase
Not every viral blog lasts for ever. Even good things eventually fail or fade away. But while the momentum lasts, you need to be constantly boosting it with new ideas, following the latest trends, and understanding your readership.
It is your loyal fans that will keep your viral blog going. These people need to be cultivated, wooed, made to feel special. Essentially you are building a community of vibrant commenters, and they will need a constant interest level to keep them on board.
Your fans will become your advocates. They will help spread the word, suggest new topics, make you aware of the latest events you should be writing about in your blog. Keep your fans sweet, and they will maintain your viral blog by bringing more readers to it.
What would you do to make your posts go viral?
It is a difficult task to create a viral blog, even just one viral post. But it is something people could strive for. Those Quora questioners may not understand the true implications of what they ask, but this should not stop you aspiring for success.
Would you focus on writing fantastic content, or do you prefer to cultivate a loyal band of voracious commenters? In my opinion it is the latter that will get you the success you crave the fastest. You're competing with too much content, but not necessarily with fantastic fan bases.
Have any of you managed to make your posts go viral? If so, we would love to know what you did to achieve this through the comments below...