Social Media Magazine

3 Practical Steps to Make Your Content Go Viral

Posted on the 15 August 2013 by Ana Hoffman @AnaTrafficCafe
This is a guest post by Ahmed Safwan.

Why aren’t your posts getting traffic?

Your ideas are great.

Your content is compelling.

But no one is sharing it.

Let’s be honest: that’s the main problem that we all face when our blog is new.

We create content, no one hears about it, we create more, and so on until we’re tired. That’s why most of the bloggers fail.

Even if you have a popular blog, your content will be shared but it won’t get you the benefits that you want.

Guess what – you CAN get more shares, tweets and comments from your post. (Yes, you!) That’s what this post will show you how to do.

It’s not about the content you share, it’s about the ingredients you add to it.

Yes, you need compelling content. But the majority of new posts are similar content that is shared again and again and again.

But what makes one post stand out, even with the same content?

It’s the ingredients that you add to your post to make it taste better and resonate more with your audience, so that they share it with their followers to get you more and more traffic.

But you still need compelling content. You need to share techniques and ideas that work. Start with the “what,” then share the “why” and the “how.”

I won’t go into detail about how to create posts, because there are thousands (if not tens of thousands) of posts about how to write better posts.

Instead, let’s talk about some of the ingredients that you could add, how to add them, and some real-life case studies of people who already did it.

1. Tell Stories.

I nearly died while ice climbing a few years ago.

how to make a better blog

It was late in the season and the temperatures weren’t quite as cold as necessary for the frozen waterfalls to be solid enough to safely climb. But my friend and I were fearless and stupid—literally a lethal combination—and we wanted to get one last climb in before the frozen pillars fell apart.
We hiked up to the base of the climb and got everything ready. That’s when we heard a horrific crashing and rumbling sound.

We looked up and saw that a car-sized chunk of ice had calved off from the mountain several hundred feet above us. We didn’t have enough time to run away; we could only paste ourselves up against the ice and try to minimize the amount of space we were taking up.

The massive slab of ice hit a ledge about 50 feet above us and broke into hundreds of smaller projectiles. My friend was mostly out of harm’s way under a slight overhanging section of ice, but I was more exposed and got thoroughly pummeled.

I ended up bleeding in several places, had massive bruises on my back, and had to retire a helmet that a particularly fierce chunk of ice had gone after and cracked. Had I not been wearing that helmet, I’d be dead right now.

You’ve probably never been ice climbing. You probably never will go ice climbing. And I’m guessing you do not care in the least about ice climbing. Yet you’re still reading.

Why? Because the story grabbed your attention.

This is one of the most effective ways to make your post stand out from the crowd.

~ Tristan Higbee in his guest post at Traffic Generation Café

Tell a story that relates to your topic and you’ll be able to capture your audience’s attention.

To prove that stories work, check out James Chartrand on Copyblogger where she (yes, she) shares her story on why he is a she. The post gathered 549 comments. To this day, it remains one of the most popular posts on Copyblogger.

viral content tell stories

You can go and check it out here: Why James Chartrand Wears Women’s Underpants.

Another good example that I’d love to share is Jon Morrow’s post on Copyblogger, On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas. It was one of the best posts of 2009, and the post also got 344 comments.

viral content jon morrow story

Jon shared his story with his disease, how his mother fought to keep him alive to now when the doctor said that it was impossible, and how he is now one of the most popular bloggers.

Stories are a great ingredient to add to your posts to make it shine.

You don’t need to make specific posts to share your story, the way Jon and James did it. You can add a story just at the beginning of the post to hook your readers and make them continue reading.

It’s one of the best ways to open your post with a bang. (Thanks to Brian Clark for for the tip!)

Here’s an example for a post that opens with a bang using a story, The Glass Ceiling, the Inner Circle, and the Key to Building a Popular Blog. (Yes, it’s also by the awesome Jon Morrow. I can’t help but mention him everywhere. He is a genius.)

viral content story by jon morrow

In this post, he grabs attention with a story that resonates with most bloggers. It actually grabs our attention and makes us continue reading till the end.

And that’s what you need to do in your posts. You’re amazing, Jon.

2. Make your content practically useful

Another ingredient to add to your post to make it spread more is to make it practically useful.

viral content practical content example

From Promote Your Blog: 10 Steps to Ultimate Blog Promotion [My Personal Cheat Sheet]

It’s the easiest ingredient, yet many bloggers overlook it and don’t use it.

When I say “practically useful,” I’m talking about the how of your post. The implementation of your solution.

So, if you tell people they need to put more email signup forms to get more subscribers, then tell them exactly where to do it and how to add it.

Make it as detailed and actionable as possible.

This is one of the ingredients that Ana always adds to her post. That’s why I love her posts and maybe you’ll love them too, because of this simple technique.

So, here’s what to do to apply this tip:

  1. Think about the actions your readers need to make.
  2. Try to plan it in a set of step-by-step actionable points.
  3. Show them what to do next, and add the tips at the end of the post.
  4. That’s it.

Yes, this is an example of how to make posts actionable. It’s that simple, but really effective. Just try it.

3. Craft a magnetic headline

If you come away with only one thing from this post, then take the following tip and apply it.

I know that you’re annoyed by the idea of writing better headlines, but…

…did you know that you can multiply your traffic 50 times over just by having a better headline?

Want proof? Well, listen to this:

A few years ago, John Wesley from Pick the Brain wrote a post and he got only 100 visits from it. The content was great, and he was sure that it deserved more traffic.

He thought that the problem may be in the headline. He changed it and then published the post again with the same content, nothing changed. Guess what: he got over 5,000 visits. You can check out the entire case study here.

Think about this for a second. If a good headline could get you 5,000 visits when you normally get 100 visits from your posts, then it would save you the time needed to write an additional 50 posts. Amazing, right?

That’s why Jon Morrow says that if you write your post in 3 hours, write your content in half an hour and write your headline in the remaining 2.5 hours.

The good news is that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel and come up with something original.

You can simply steal and save yourself more time.

Here’s what I mean by “steal”: find the headline formula that worked for others and try to use it in your next post.

Jon Morrow created a list of 52 headline hacks (formulas) that always work when used right. Peter Sandeen also collected a list of 101 headline formulas.

Check them before you choose your headline to come up with the right formula, then try to fill the blanks with the right words.

But here are some tips to make your headline better:

  • Make it specific.
  • Try to make it something that grabs the attention even at 2 AM.
  • Use power words to make it better and astonishing.

This is actually what people see on Twitter, their RSS feed and everywhere else. People decide whether or not they’ll read the post from your headline. That’s why you need to take your time to come up with an irresistible headline.

Last Words

Compelling content is essential to make your content go viral, but it’s not enough. You need to add some ingredients.

Here are 3 ingredients you can add today and see what happens:

  • Tell a story.
  • Make your content practically useful.
  • Craft a magnetic headline.

You might be amazed with the results.

What do you think could be other ingredients to add to make the post spread like wildfire? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

You could also read this report to learn more about how to make your post go viral.

 

Ahmed Safwan

Ahmed Safwan is a blogger and marketer that teaches how you can get your posts shared, tweeted, and talked about. If you want more people to read and interact with your content, check out his free Blogger’s Handbook for Writing Viral Posts!

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COMMENTS ( 1 )

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posted on 12 November at 00:10
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