You hear the word viral all the time as it relates to successful campaigns and digital content, but it has now taken on another meaning with the current pandemic we are all facing globally.

The viral nature of popular digital content is not unlike the current Covid-19 virus in the way that they both spread quickly throughout society. Like other viruses that have plagued society, Covid-19 will soon be a thing of the past. But viral content is here to stay.

What is more encouraging is that social networks have optimized their platforms so that users see both content they like and content that is popular (or viral).

The Oxford dictionary defines virality as “the tendency of an image, video or piece of information to be circulated rapidly and widely from one internet user to another.” Because of the interconnectedness of social networks and the internet, a seemingly randomly post can go viral overnight.

Whether it be a YouTube video, an informative list or a simple tweet, viral content has a way of getting to people from different communities who seem to have nothing in common save for their internet use. Some may think that viral content happens by luck, or posting at an ideal time, or maybe being seen and supported by the right influencer.

But instead of creating a strategy with the goal of going viral, instead employ strategies to build an organic community of loyal followers, which will in turn increase the chances of your content going viral. If your content doesn’t end up going viral, marketing with this approach is just plain good for business and will set your brand up for success in the future.

There are certain elements that are vital to building a community to increase the chances of your content going viral. They are as follows:

Have a Unique and Valuable Offering

Before you start thinking about the type of content you want to post, it is vital to ask yourself whether your offering is a) unique, and b) valuable. Is the value you are planning to offer unique in a way that other existing products cannot compete with, and will your offering improve lives in some noticeable way?

Many people believe that specific viral marketing tactics are solely responsible for something going viral, but from past cases, sometimes it is as simple as delivering unique and valuable content, that is easily sharable, which causes a post to go viral.

Focus on a Targeted Audience

You have a great idea for compelling content, you have great graphics, and a compelling call to action. But what type of person will be most receptive to your offering and messages?

Knowing your target audience is a crucial early step in outlining a sound digital marketing plan, since most viral content spreads first within a community of similar-minded people before it spreads to a wider audience. Without understanding your audience, how they talk, what they believe in, and what motivates them, even the best content will fall short of its optimal reach.

Evoke the Right Emotions to Go Viral

Now ask yourself this. What type of emotion would be best to evoke for your different audience profiles? Would it be best to communicate content that makes them happy? Sad? What educates them? What angers them? What inspires them?

It is important to know your target audience so you can give them content they are most receptive to. This increases the chances that they will share your message organically, which is the most impactful and cheapest form of marketing. New social media features make targeting specific demographics easier than ever.

Tailor Exceptional Content

Time is a precious resource, and I highly doubt you want to waste your time or the time of your followers/prospective followers with regards to the content you create. Therefore, it is important to consider whether your content is exceptional; meaning it entertains, educates or is relatable in an impactful way for the target audience. Your content can be all three, but it should contain at least one of these elements.

Focusing on content that has highly impactful words, catchy imagery, elements of surprise, and musical elements are all things to consider when deciding what type of content to disseminate. Here is where your creativity and uniqueness come into play as it relates to how you want your brand to be viewed in the minds of current and prospective followers.

Be Selective with CTAs and Incentives

You might feel obliged to include calls to action and incentives with every post but understand that the most impactful action is when a follower shares your content of their own accord.

Incentives and calls to action are great for initially encouraging your community to share your content, but the long-term health of your brand will rest on your community’s willingness to spread your message organically.

Attaching Your Content to Trends

Having your content stand out in a saturated digital world is difficult, but definitely not impossible. Attaching your content to trends is one way to tap into a community of people already aware of a certain trending topic.

TikTok is a great example of a platform that harnesses the power of trends to create virality. Dance challenges on TikTok are circulated, with a descriptive hashtag that usually contains the song’s name. Users uploading their version of the dance challenge are easily able to plug their content into the specific song’s challenge community, with both content consumers and creators already primed and ready to engage with your content.

This is not to say that you need to brush off your dance shoes and enter a dance challenge to gain exposure but tapping into an existing popular trend is a simple and effective way for a new audience to become aware of your value offering.

Empower Key Opinion Leaders

So, you have started to create and disseminate content, but are frustrated by the lack of growth in your engagement and/or community reach. What is arguably the most important element of a digital marketing plan that most new marketers overlook is to engage with relevant Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), or influencers, in order to help spread your message in a powerful way.

KOLs have a large, engaged audience that can be tapped into, to build credibility and drive conversions for your brand. Connecting with existing communities by engaging with KOLs means less time (and money) spent trying to convert less influential people.  It only takes convincing one KOL to allow your message to be communicated to hundreds, thousands or even millions of followers who have a relationship with the KOL that has been nurtured over time.

Put it All Together and Go Viral

To summarize, there is no magic formula for going viral, and energy spent trying to go viral should be redirected towards building a community of followers that trust you and feel like an important and involved part of your efforts. The way to do this is by offering unique value, understanding your audience, engaging with them using messages and emotions they are receptive to, capitalizing on trends, and most importantly, connecting with and empowering key opinion leaders to drive your message home in an efficient and impactful way.

If all these elements are thoroughly developed, you will be able to continuously grow a strong community of followers, which will in turn increase the chance of your content going viral.

Increasing the chances of your content going viral should be the goal as it relates to virality, not going viral in and of itself. Your mental health and followers will thank you.