Viral content can change the fortunes of a struggling website, make individuals into celebrities, and turn brands into household names. In most cases, though, trying to develop your own viral content will be very hit-and-miss. The alternative method, used by many highly successful websites, is to use content that is already proven to resonate with audiences. Finding popular articles or videos, uncovering trends that are about to go mainstream, and seizing on significant moments can all contribute to a viral website that doesn’t rely on developing original content. So what is the process for developing a viral site?
Build a Sticky Site
Individual posts can gain traction, but it is far better when visitors start browsing across multiple videos and articles. Sticky sites are addictive, offering people the exact type of content they are interested in. Web design is the first important factor to consider, whether you are building a site from scratch or using a template. There are some quality WordPress themes available that are similar to popular sites like BuzzFeed and Mashable, though these could be built with HTML. If you use WordPress, a plugin like ViralPress can help you quickly create viral posts, with quizzes, polls, memes, and galleries proving popular. Finally, ensure you have prominent social sharing buttons and links to related and trending posts across the site.
Find Popular and Trending Content
With a sticky site in place, the next step is to find content to populate it. If you are active in a niche, following relevant social sites and reading daily news, you should naturally be aware of engaging content. However, there are ways to be more incisive and analytical about the content you choose. Tools like BuzzSumo, EpicBeat, Alltop, and Feedly can all be used to find out what posts are drawing the attention of audiences. BuzzSumo, for example, can also give you detailed social sharing metrics, so you can make a calculated assessment about what your audience will respond to.
Make Use of Social Media
Social media is where articles and videos go viral, with sharing and conversations driving huge amounts of traffic. Ideally, you will make use of both the free and paid aspects of social sites, particularly with a platform like Facebook. Post all new content to your social page, mixing in quality posts from other sites that you network with. To get the best impact, though, you should start to invest in ads. Facebook, for example, lets you spend a very small amount each day, but you should find certain posts start to get high engagement levels. For these posts, increase your budget and track ROI on your site.
Build a List
List building is important for developing a sustainable business, with the chance to contact targeted subscribers on a regular basis. Depending on the niche, you can offer a collection of the best posts or a free gift to entice people to subscribe. There is no definitive approach to email marketing, so experiment with opt-in boxes and email box placement, while also using list segmentation to test what emails convert best. When you post something that gets traction, contacting your list can be a great way to take the content viral.
Update Content Regularly
Viral websites typically require frequent updates to maintain success. A viral trend might quickly lose appeal, with visitors looking for something fresh to interest them. Regular updates also increases site stickiness, so you can anticipate multiple page views from each visit. Also, with SEO being important for traffic, page views and a low bounce rate can be helpful metrics. More importantly, though, social media relies on updated content, so your social accounts should have fresh content appearing, with the most popular posts being promoted the most.
One of the most common mistakes in this process is not understanding your audience. People will consume popular content repeatedly, but this will only work if the content is perfectly matched to their interests. The exception to this would be if you create a broader platform for general viral videos, but this will obviously require more work. For niche sites, though, ensure you give audiences what they want, work to a schedule, and always look to optimize your campaigns. With audiences hungry for engaging content, viral websites are here to stay.
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