Viral Content Checklist

Here’s our checklist to help when planning a piece of content that you’d like to go viral.

You probably won’t be able to create something that ticks every box – this would likely be the equivalent of a committee camel, or a provocative statistical long copy lolcat – if you try to please everyone, your content is probably too bland or unfocussed to make an impact.

Viral Content Checklist

  • Is the content relevant to your audience?
  • Have you chosen a topic that you see potential to dominate? If not, consider more niche topics or ideas
  • Have you thought about who is most likely to share it, and how you will get your content in front of them? (who your most powerful, and promiscuous virus spreading sneezers are)
  • It takes users less than two-tenths of a second to form a first impression – are you using headline and media wisely? Is your content easy to read?
  • Did you sufficiently cover the topic? Is it long enough?
  • Does the content inspire a high-energy emotion like awe, anger, or anxiety?
  • Did your tone convey emotion? Are you obviously human, and not corporate or automated?
  • Is it practically useful?
  • Is it interesting or surprising?
  • Can you add credibility? e.g. references, quotes from experts, statistics or charts?
  • If it’s supposed to be funny, is it actually funny?
  • Have you made it easy to share? e.g. adding default text to Twitter re-tweet buttons?
  • Will you benefit from the content if it goes viral? i.e. is your branding visible on the media you’ve produced, or will you receive backlinks?
  • Are you prepared if it does go viral? i.e. will your server take the pressure of a spike in traffic, have you briefed the customer service team.
  • Have you considered what’s next? Can you refresh the content, make it better, start a series?

Inspired by an article on SEOMoz “Why Content Goes Viral: the Theory and Proof” by Carson Ward from Distilled, a study on online user behaviour by Missouri University, as well as Seth Godin’s classic book on Viral Marketing – Unleashing the Ideavirus – which you can download for free for your Kindle or iPad.

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