“Going viral” — this phrase gets tossed around so much. Who wouldn’t want their content to go viral? But… seriously… what does “going viral” even mean?
It’s true, there’s really no ultimate definition for going viral. Urban Dictionary explains it as:
“going viral” - used in reference to Internet content which can be passed through electronic mail and social networking sites (Facebook, etc.): an image, video, or link that spreads rapidly through a population by being frequently shared with a number of individuals has ‘gone viral’.
Personally, I consider a social media post, blog post, a video, or a page to be “going viral” when you get a very significant amount of traffic to it in a very short amount of time. For me, my blog brings in around 10-12,000 visitors per month. So, for a single post to get nearly 6,000 views in a matter of hours — well — that’s significant. Here’s how it happened.
Posting on Hometalk
My success story happened first by putting my blog post on Hometalk.com — a community where you can create your own posts (DIY tutorials for the home, etc) and others can use Hometalk.com to search, view, and even comment on your tutorial. Think of it as an “Etsy-like” platform for do it yourselfers. By posting on Hometalk, I’m able to get a ton of people reading my blog posts.
The unfortunate thing about this is that they are reading my posts on Hometalk, rather than directly on my blog. I am allowed to put a link to my blog post at the bottom of the tutorial, but it doesn’t send all that much traffic to my actual website, because they are getting everything they need on the Hometalk page.
However, more people see my posts, share, pin, comment on, and most importantly interact with me on Hometalk than any other platform. So, I’m ok with it.
Just by posting on Hometalk my DIY tutorial got tons of love. 85,000 views, over 50 comments and nearly 2,500 shares. Sadly, all of these comments, shares, and views are on Hometalk.com, not my own blog.
How Does This Post Differ from the Others?
Understanding how this post differs from the “other” posts is the key to understanding going viral. This particular post was really popular on Hometalk. I’ve had others that did well, but I think there were a couple different factors that drew others to this post. The biggest was the simplicity of just painting an old drawer, and adding a little bit of humor to it did wonders for it. Because it was so easy to do, this particular tutorial connected with a much broader audience; most of the Hometalk community felt like they could accomplish it at home (vs. a lot of my other tutorials that require power tools, sanding, staining, actually measuring stuff, etc.). The little “Grow Dammit” plaque on the front was just the icing on the cake. A little humor goes a long way. Overall, this tutorial did two things:
- it made people feel empowered (“Hey, I think I can actually do this one”) and also
- it brightened their day (cheery colors and a funny little plaque made them laugh).
Both of these things made them want to share this post. Comment on this post. Interact with this post. It was more about them, than “hey look what I did”. And this is a very key factor to creating content that others will go nuts for.
Look for a “Traffic Program”
If you aren’t a home renovation blogger, this post has probably got you wondering how your going to get YOUR content to go viral. Here’s my advice: look for a “traffic program” within your niche. A traffic program can send traffic to your website from a larger website or community if you are important to them.
The reason I got so many hits on my blog is because I’m part of the Hometalk Traffic Program for Bloggers. The traffic program is a value-add for Hometalk bloggers who regularly share high-quality content with the Hometalk community. Through this program, Hometalk will feature a rotation of direct links to qualified bloggers in their daily emails to increase the traffic you receive from Hometalk.
This is the email that Hometalk sent me explaining that they featured me in an email and sent the traffic directly to my blog!
Hometalk starting sending all of the links from the email newsletters DIRECTLY to the blogger’s website, rather than to the post on their website.
So cool. I post something that’s popular on their site. They get lots of interaction from it. And… as a reward, when they send out their next email, they send the traffic directly to my blog instead of to the post on Hometalk. So, they appreciate the content I’ve created, and as a “thank you”, they’ve sent me lots of traffic from their email list. It’s a win-win for everyone. It makes me keep sharing, and it gets them really high quality content for their website!
My Stats on Google Analytics
Here’s my Analytics page. If you go to Channels –> Direct –> then clicking on the viral landing page you can see this information
Because of the 6,000+ views, I got some social shares as well. These don’t seem super significant, but every time your post is shared on facebook or pinterest, it brings a stream of more viewers to your post. This type of sharing can pay off with traffic over time vs. just a single newsletter send.
So that’s it — I went viral. And, you can, too! Today we talked about using traffic programs to go viral. Find a community within your business niche, and see if they have a “traffic program”. A traffic program will reward really high quality bloggers or article writers for their content by giving them traffic to their website. Hometalk does this by featuring their bloggers in their email newsletters.
Traffic programs are a great way to get more exposure. And, while you are in the community you choose, you’ll be able to interact with your target audience. Make sure you are writing posts and articles that relate to a wide range of people in that community. This particular post hit on empowerment and humor to gain more likes, shares and interaction. And if you have potential customers or readers that are interacting with you in the community, it’s really beneficial for your business — even if you don’t get featured right away.
Have any of your own tips on “going viral” as a blogger or entrepreneur? Have you gone viral? Let’s celebrate each others success in the comments below!