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Going viral: four ways to spread your business message

Richard Bell

If you say the word viral to a certain people, they will instantly think of diseases. However, for most entrepreneurs the idea of their message ‘going viral’ would have them rubbing their hands together with glee, not antibacterial gel.

To ‘go viral’ has become an accepted way to describe internet content that is  shared at an exponential rate, reaching audience figures way in excess of its original intention. For the right reasons, viral content has huge marketing potential.

I say “the right reasons”, because getting it wrong can be just as damaging as getting it correct can be fruitful. I’m thinking of the employees who accidentally use company twitter accounts to rant from late on a Friday night.

There’s no one special trick to making a social media update go viral, but there are definitely ways you can increase your chances of achieving this holy grail.

First of all, timing is everything. With so much competition, a well written, engaging post may quickly get buried in news feeds if your core audience aren’t active. The difference between getting a message shared at 4.00pm on a Friday afternoon and one at 8.00am on a Wednesday morning could make all the difference. Therefore, know when your audience is active and time posts accordingly.

The key ingredients for a viral post include an appealing title that arouses curiosity, an attention grabbing thumbnail or accompanying visual, and a succinct but catchy description that engages your audience. You should also remember the fact that internet users love a list, so promising ‘seven ways to boost your brain power for exam success’ is likely to get more shares than a straightforward ‘Boost your brain power for exam success’. Also, don’t forget to add one or two relevant hashtags.

Make the internet do the hard work for you and use the power of multiple platforms, such as Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, and LinkedIn, to get the post to its audience.

Lastly, keep trying. As with an infection, ‘going viral’ is sometimes just pure chance.

Richard has a First in English Literature and Creative Writing, and has experience writing fiction and short stories (which he has published both online and in magazines).

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