I’ll be discussing three more ideas from the article Jordan Kasteler wrote for Search Engine Land. I highly recommend you read it, as it offers a treasure trove of approaches to creating viral content. If you look back on SEO Chat over the last two or three weeks, you’ll see I’ve covered a number of the topics he discussed there.
So how do you get popular by hitching your star to something that’s already popular? Say hello to “The Pop Culture Tie-in.” Memes come and go fast on the Internet, but you don’t need to tie your content to a simple meme. Look at current events, new hot movies, newly popular videos, trends…anything that people are currently talking about. Then tie it back into your field.
When Charlie Sheen was just starting to act crazy, a number of websites focused on SEO wrote articles using his name in the title. Even we did it here. But we didn’t just talk about Charlie Sheen being crazy; we talked about how his actions were attracting attention, and how you could attract attention to your website in similar ways without going a little nuts. The point is, we found a way to talk about something in which lots of searchers were interested, but tied it back to our own field. You can do the same thing – but make sure to use something truly current and not overworked as your inspiration. As Kasteler observed, “the world does not need another Charlie Sheen joke.”
A little star power often works to attract visitors. You don’t need to get Lady Gaga to write for your site (though it would be pretty awesome if you did) as there are plenty of “stars” out there that are hardly known outside their own fields. They’re called experts. Some of them, like Mark Zuckerberg or Warren Buffet, are so generally well-known that people who don’t actively follow social media or high finance take an interest in what they have to say.
Sometimes it’s relatively easy to get the viral power of “The Expert” approach working for you. You can do an interview with them. You can even get several experts together in one piece; send them emails with a list of questions and ask them to answer. Be very polite, as these are often busy people. If you’re running a website for would-be writers, do you think an article in which 15 published authors talk about writing will attract attention? Kasteler thinks so – and you’d better believe it will. It’s a win for the writers as well, as they may appreciate the exposure and link to the piece on their own websites.
I’ve saved the trickiest approach for last. It’s “The Viral Video,” and it’s probably what viral marketing is best known for. The Old Spice man is my favorite example of this (don’t judge), but there are plenty of others. The problem is, it’s nearly impossible to predict what will go viral and what will fall flat. Are you releasing a new product or service? Film a demonstration of it or a “trailer” for it, as you might for a movie. You can be dramatic, funny, or what have you. As Kasteler notes, though, “make it original or make it good – Internet users have no shame about stopping a boring video 15 seconds after it starts.”
It reminds me of one of the rules for costume presentation at science fiction conventions: short is better than long; funny is better than serious; short and funny is best. Never forget that you’re trying to entertain as well as inform. An entertained visitor will remember your content and want to share it with friends, and that’s exactly what you’re trying to achieve with viral content. Good luck!