What you do after is more important than creating viral content


viral social media content
You shared popular content. Now what? Stock Image.

Your Facebook post just went viral. Now what?

Nothing makes me cringe more than a marketing team who sits down and says, “Ok, let’s create a viral Facebook video.” That’s not the point of social media. You can’t always plan viral content. And one and done doesn’t make for a social media expert.

If your good content goes viral, there are a few things you can do to capitalize on the opportunity to increase your number of followers and improve engagement.

What defines a viral post?

For this context, there is no number to define a viral social media post. Simply put, viral = popular. Consider any content with significantly higher interaction compared to your average a viral post. Each increase is a step up the ladder of growth for your page or site.

Content that is more popular normally includes the use images or video, evokes emotion or curiosity or humor, touches on recent or hot topics, and is easy to consume with short attention spans. For heaven’s sake, please avoid clickbait and fake news.

No matter whether your page has 100 followers or 50,000, these tips will work to encourage people who Liked or Commented on your content to consider subscribing to your site on a more regular basis.

What is content engagement?

On social media, content engagement can be considered feedback that provides value in the form of link clicks, likes, shares, comments, retweets, pins, or interaction that shares the content with other friends and followers. Much of this can be the result of useful and valuable content.

Algorithms of social sites are designed to identify content that is more engaging and place higher priority so that more users view the content. Driving more engagement on a piece of content can fuel that popularity and viral content is created by a cascade of successful engagement.

Content with integrity

Greenhouse Gas Emissions from EPA, 2014. Stock Image.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions from EPA, 2014. Stock Image.

Sharing content shouldn’t be a popularity contest. In a social media world where fake news and memes out-number original thought most days, creating content with substance stands out.

Fact check your information before sharing content. Provide sources when appropriate. Don’t contribute to the lack of online integrity just to gain new followers in pursuit of being an online celebrity. While humor and entertainment are important pieces to a social media content strategy, this shouldn’t be your only content.

Take for example a recent image I created to correspond with a blog post on Greenhouse Gas Emissions from livestock. The meme is easily consumed, shared interesting facts with a source cited and inspired engagement from readers that was above average for my page. While the image will never hit 1,000,000 shares, content with substance will garner greater reputation long-term.

Following up on viral content

Your first step to capitalizing on content that has gained traction is to show appreciation for users who do engage. This can include responding to or liking comments from other users. Timely and live feedback drives more conversation and puts higher priority on the content appearing in user feeds.

  • Like comments and respond where appropriate
  • Like shares and comment to thank others for sharing
  • Respond to comments, questions and concerns on the original content and social shares
  • Follow conversations as they develop and stay involved

Facebook makes it extremely easy to find shares from your original post. On Twitter, search for the title or URL of your site. Or, consider using a Google Alert to notify when your name or site is mentioned elsewhere online.

facebook-like-inviteFacebook Pages provide an opportunity to invite people to like your page when they interact with your posts. Click on the number of likes for each post, a pop-up box appears. To the right of names for users who interacted with the post, Facebook lets you see if they have already Liked to your page. If they haven’t yet subscribed to your page, the box will say Invite. You can then invite the user to Like your page. I’ve found this to be a worthwhile effort because people who have already interacted with your content are more likely to subscribe to your page and be engaged users.

Ask your tribe to like, comment and share with their audiences. You likely have a few friends who are willing to help you out and share your content with their audiences. Invite them to give your post a little love with a like or comment.

Revisit the topic. If your content resonated with subscribers, it is important to revisit the topic and share information to elaborate or add context. If your content was in the form of a blog post, write another to expand upon the topic. This will help boost your search engine optimization (SEO) and work toward flagging your authority on the topic.

Reshare at a later date. If content was popular, it’s usually safe to share it again at a later date. This may include sharing the content on other social sites in the same week, or bringing it back around months later.

Invite social media followers to subscribe. In a time with social sites own your content and take control of prioritizing content, the value of email and subscriber list is higher than ever before. Utilizing services like MailChimp, subscribers can receive emails when you publish new content, or you can use email campaigns to reach out to subscribers with a separate newsletter or updates.

What other tips can you share to help content go further when it becomes popular?

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