Creating viral content is talked about so frequently I want to scream. People spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to create a video or incident that seems “real” or pushing out bizarre ads and social media responses to get the “viral effect.” All it takes is a single incident to draw the limelight to your brand– however, the limelight is only worth basking in when your brand is noted for something that creates or reinforces credibility.
Regardless of intentionally creating viral content or not, businesses are always aiming to garner attention from their target markets and to propel further audience engagement. For B2B marketers, this can be especially challenging – how do you harness the power of shared, popular content among business buyers?
This means redefining “viral.” While most B2B content may never get 100 million views or thousands of retweets, there are instances of content that are extremely effective. I would say that if you’re looking for a good measure of viral B2B content for your organization, you should establish a baseline of what each marketing channel typically brings in from a traffic perspective. This should include landing pages, videos, social media channels, white papers, case studies, etc. For each of those channels, if you keep all other things the same, a traffic increase of more than 300% for single piece of content is what I could consider “viral B2B content.” Remember, I said all other things being equal – so you can’t add another 10,000 people to your email distribution or spend $100K on advertising and call your content viral. (It also won’t serve you well in figuring out what works on its own – so you’re really just hurting yourself if you claim it’s viral and it’s not.)
This is a good rule of thumb to consider when going back and looking at your content over the course of a quarter or a year — what drove significant traffic spikes and how can I leverage or replicate that content to do more?
Let’s look at what exactly goes into going viral.
What Makes B2B Content Viral?
Good content is always embraced by the audience (if they’re not digging it – it’s probably not good, no matter how much time or money you spent on it)— but going beyond this initial pop of excitement is the challenge. Based on the content we’re seeing today, when it comes to content you create intentional – fun, creative and compelling seem to be staples of winning content.
How do you make B2B content “fun” I hear you mumbling… Extend it beyond the written word to include videos, music, photos, slide decks, and more. If this is difficult to grasp, here are a few suggestions:
SlideShare is great for posting your presentations in an SEO-rich way. Slide presentations are a great way to incorporate images, facts, data and key points in a consumable way that users remember. These presentations are also easy for users to share and can even have private links for sales decks or internal presentations. Don’t like slideshare? Get with ANY sort of format that gives quick information hits and includes easy and appealing graphics. Think of your typical marketing and sales content but in children’s book form.
YouTube videos are also an easy way to create content that can be used on your site, posted to the YouTube channel itself, and shared on social media. Anything from a fun product or feature overview, customer / client interviews, webinars, or something like our FOUND Friday series is great content that can be used in lots of places. Can’t afford an expensive video creator? Not a problem. Check out Animoto for business and get some simple product overviews going with just screenshots. And recording regular company and product updates as videos to accompany emails and blogs is truly a great way to engage with your users.
Systematic Content Strategies
While there is no single formula for creating viral content, there are a few strategies that we see work regularly.
- Creating content based on keywords. Make sure that if you’re spending time creating new content, that it’s actually based on what people are looking for now. This works two ways, first is that you should have a list of target keywords / topics that you want to rank highly for when people search. The second is discovering keywords that people are searching for in your industry and then generating a variety of content around those topics as relevant to your products and services.
- Refresh former content with a new spin. For content that once drove a lot of traffic, what you may need is a new outlook to breathe life into something that obviously works. Instead of just re-writing an old blog post – consider turning it into a SlideShare, doing a webinar around the topic, or creating a product video.
- Boost content with some paid media. This doesn’t mean starting a $1M ad campaign, it can be a few dollars a day for a month on Google AdWords to get the ball rolling around content that potentially has a long life span. A bonus tip – make the content AND the ad social-friendly so that audiences can share it.
Keep in mind, creating SEO-friendly content is the gift that keeps on giving. Long after you’ve stopped promoting the content, it will still be found by people looking for a solution. For instance, we have blog posts, SlideShare decks, and videos that are over a year old that continue to drive hundreds of visitors to our site every week – all because when someone looks – our content is there.
Whether you’re already creating amazing B2B content or looking for a way to break into the content marketing world – keep an eye on what people are talking about, where your competitors are going with their content, and remember to leverage what works as far as you can. It will increase traffic and keep budgets reasonable.
Want more? Check out a FOUND Friday episode on muffling negative feedback and creating viral content.