How to make social media content go viral

The Social Media Spotlight

The Socialites Pick of the Day…

It’s a question that keeps digital marketing professionals awake at night, how do I make my client’s social media content go viral? 

The simple answer is, often, viral content is simply a matter of luck – the online equivalent of being in the right place at the right time – by posting the right topic at the right time.

Ask any advertising expert, Brand Manager or Social Media marketer, and they’ll all have their own opinion on what works best.  Unfortunately, there is no key formula (yet), no secret that is guaranteed to see your content being Stumbled, +1’ed, Tweeted and Shared above all else.

Anyone who creates online content measures the success of engagement by a number of methods, be it statistical data and ROI, sharing, or new followers, subscribers and customers.

The secret to social media viral marketing….?

Metcalf’s Law

One of the most studied viral marketing theories, Metcalf’s Law calculates the value of a network as the Network Effect.  This is the value of any potential content sharer in relation to their reach (the number of people within their network).

Put simply, the more connections a user has and the more networks and platforms they are linked to, the easier it is for them to share content and the larger the potential audience is.

This is a good starting point when considering ways in which your social media content might go ‘viral’

Key forms of viral content include :

Blog posts




Top reasons we share :

Humour : If we find it funny, we’re more likely to share it with our networks.

Shock and awe : If it seems hard to believe or it amazes us, we’ll want to share it with out connections to make sense of it.

Emotion : Anything that tugs on the heart strings or we relate to on an emotional level.

Where to focus your efforts to go viral?

Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Delicious, Buzzfeed.

These networks can help content catch fire at an astonishing pace. A mention on one of these aggregation platforms alone is enough to see most content go viral, if it’s good enough, on account of the extent of the members of each of these platforms. The flow of traffic from a high ranked re-post on these platforms could last for days.


Get the right person to Tweet about your content and the flow-on effect can be huge. A ‘re-tweet from a celebrity or a well followed Twitterati could help your content reach millions in minutes.


Similar to Twitter, if the right Blogger (a person of authority on your chosen content, or a very popular blogger with large reach) mentions your content and links to it, people will listen, and smaller bloggers will catch on.

Social web power users

There’s a reason they’re considered power users.  These are the users with mega networks behind them, with the power to disseminate your content to thousands of users across a vast range of networks.

Twitter, Reddit, Blogging and Metcalf’s Law – The secrets of viral content marketing

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