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6 ways to create viral content

By Natasha McGarrell

If you Google ‘how to create viral content’, you’ll find very similar advice that’s not particularly helpful. You’ll see tips like ‘tell a compelling story’ and ‘create engaging content’ – thanks Captain Obvious. What’s hard to find are tips on HOW to do this… until now. Here are Tonic’s top tips to creating viral content.

Solve a problem

Ask yourself what problems your audience faces on a day-to-day basis and provide a new answer to that problem. The key is to position the solution as something easy that doesn’t take much effort. Hand them a quick, effortless solution on a silver platter and they’ll eat it up. Take this YouTube video for example:


This piece of content has racked up over 16 million views and it’s just a guy folding a shirt. This takes a dull, menial task that takes precious time out of our day and provides a simple hack to get it done.

Challenge your audience

 It’s tough for your content to stand out in a sea of sameness. One way to succeed is to challenge the way people think: bust a commonly-held myth, or present an alternative opinion on a relevant topic. While you may be afraid of causing controversy, this will create more debate. People are more likely to share content and join in the conversation if they care about a subject.

When it comes to a polarising piece of content, people usually want to put in their two cents whether they agree with it or not. You don’t have to look further than the viral entity that is Trump to see this in practice. Love him or hate him, people are still talking about him. So much so, it seems we can’t go a day without hearing about his daily antics.

Rethink your angle

Similarly, it’s difficult to get noticed if your story has the same perspective as everyone other. Try reframing the question, or approaching it from a different angle. Take this infographic from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for example.

Bill Gates posted this to drive awareness of malaria, which kills 725,000 people annually. The infographic cleverly reframes the subject of malaria into something shocking. Did you know the mosquito is the world’s deadliest animal? That’s shareable.

Create Frankenstein’s monster

What do you get when you combine trending and evergreen themes? Potentially, viral content. The tricky thing is finding a way to connect two seemingly unrelated topics. PR Daily does this well –  for example, “5 PR lessons from ‘Game of Thrones’”. It uses something topical (who isn’t talking about Game of Thrones these days?) and something evergreen (PR learning) to create an engaging piece of content.

 Understand the before and after state

When a customer buys a product or service they move from a ‘before’ state, where they’re usually discontent, to an ‘after’ state, where their problem has been solved. The goal of a content marketer is to help your customer see how your product will help them achieve that ‘after’ state.

 Here’s a great resource from Digital Marketer on how you can apply this principle to your content.

 Venture outside your immediate field

Here’s a crazy thought: don’t use your marketing channels for just marketing aka don’t just talk about your company. Your audience don’t want to feel like they’re being advertised to. They want to read engaging content that adds value to their lives. So, venture outside of your bubble and find how you can connect your main product offering with interesting content.

Unfortunately, the internet is fickle beast so there’s no telling what will go viral. By no means are these tips a guaranteed recipe for viral content, but you’ll be more likely to reach viral status if you apply them.