Six Strategies for Building Viral Content in 2023


This week at Tech in Radar has focused on viral content — content that, by its nature, is designed to be shared via social media, word of mouth and links. It’s content that others want to talk about, and will turn readers into promoters of your content.

Two days ago I analyzed 12 examples of viral content in order to tease out some of the qualities that helped them become viral. In this post, I want to outline some basic strategies that are common across different types of viral content, and provide some suggestions for how you can use these strategies on your own blog or website.

6 Tips to Build Viral Content 2023 Edition

6 Tips to Build Viral Content

25 ways to build a popular Blog

1. Relate Your Piece of Content to the Current Big Thing

If you write in English, this will be the current ‘Western’ big thing, as most visitors to English blogs (unless they’re locally specific) are likely to be from the United States. Linking your post to whatever is sweeping the West (or the region your language is used) at the moment will add a strong element of potential virality to your article. Some strategies could be:

  • Writing your post from the perspective of a famous individual or group, particularly one who would never be seen dead in your niche.
  • Taking an element of the current buzz-worthy thing and exploring how it applies to your niche.
  • Answer the what if scenario: what if this person, or this current trend, took part in my niche? 

2. Write Content With A Big Wide Promise

People like the spectacular. A headline listing: “The Greatest Skaters of the 20th Century” will generate more interest than a list of “The Greatest Skaters of 2007″ (if your site is about skating, for example).

Lists with big promises are also often widely circulated. And no, I don’t mean list posts, but real, ranked lists, where number 1 is not as good as no. 10, and so on.

They’re controversial. I doubt any single person will view your ranked list and decide they would have done it exactly the same way. The ranking process gets people involved — most will agree with some parts and disagree with others.

I suspect the reason ranked lists get talked about is that they implicitly ask the reader to form an opinion at every step of the way: not only, should the list, overall, look like it does, but should this person/thing be placed there? What about this other person? And that one?

See it: The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

3. Pack A Lot of Value into a Single Package

Giving someone a brand-new car will be more word-of-mouth worthy than giving them small presents over the course of their life, even if the value of the smaller gifts eventually adds up to the value of the car.

To use Unleashing the IdeaVirus as an example, the ebook was read by more people than many bestsellers because it was free, packed with value, and the author encouraged sharing. You don’t need to write an ebook, but assembling plenty of value in one place and encouraging readers to share it can significantly increase your content’s potential to go viral.

4. Do or Document a Remarkable Behavior

What if a graphic design site-owner offered to do free logos for every reader who requested one? What if a blogger agreed to do a guest-post for everyone that asked?

Acts of generosity are word-of-mouth worthy. So are ambitious goals. So is not doing what everyone else is doing.

If you can’t do something remarkable, write about someone who is.

5. Convincingly Argue on a Popular Point of View

Articles of this nature with the best chance of going viral ‘preach to the converted’. An article listing 100 reasons why making money online is better than your day-job is likely to be far better received on a make money online blog than an article arguing the opposite!

The opposite view might have more traction in the wider community, but the view that making money online is superior will fare better. Why? Because having an initial group of people who will eagerly share and publicize your content is essential to get the ball rolling. When writing an article that argues a case, ask yourself: “Will my regular readers be evangelists for this content?”

6. Let the Readers Become Part of the Viral Initiative

This form of viral content probably most resembles a meme. It involves creating content that implicitly encourages others to add to it. Blog Action Day, LOLcats builder and ProBlogger’s group writing project are good examples of this.

The most important aspect of this is that it be enjoyable or rewarding for readers to take part. Making your own LOLcat is fun (if you like them). Having a post published in the group writing project promises to bring traffic.

Here are some suggestions for participatory viral content:

  • Ask readers a question and encourage them to answer it on their own blogs. Later, assemble links to all the answers in one article, possibly accompanied by excerpts.
  • Aim to collectively build a database of knowledge on one thing. If dozens of people write tips on one topic, the result is bound to be a useful collection of knowledge. Get readers to contribute on their own blogs and link to those articles from a central hub, or assemble their tips into an ebook.
  • Write a quiz for your niche, or allow readers to evaluate themselves or something about them according to criteria you’ve set out. If the answers are interesting they might be shared, and you might receive some word-of-mouth with them. One example I’ve seen recently is the Pro Blogger Test.

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