5 Writing Principles That Will Make Your Content Go Viral
Cast the first stone in me, those of you unwilling to create viral content that gets well shared!
And cast the second stone in me, those of you unwilling to create and publish content that gets well shared and… linked!
Eric Enge at Stone Temple claims we still need links to enhance traffic. And in the world of content shock, we have to outdo ourselves for creating something truly magical that would bring those links and shares.
In 2015, BuzzSumo analyzed one million posts and shocked us with the results: 50% of those posts got less than 8 shares, and 70% of them didn’t get links at all!
Sounds not inspiring enough, huh?
This year, they teamed up with Majestic and conducted new research to identify content types with a high potential to go viral. That’s all very fine, but…
With all those articles on the one-works-for-all recipe of content creation, we often forget about the most obvious trick to use for making this content lip-smacking.
Men of pens hear that whisper from behind their shoulders right now:
Words, pal! Use power words in your content!
With actionable tactics and formulas that have come from copywriting, you can make content go viral.
You see, reading is an effort. So, award the audience for taking that effort and reading your content. Make them love it!
Image Source: Persuasion and Influence
- Play upon the LSD-topics in your content: laugh, sex, and death.
- Change perspectives.
- Forget about banality.
- Approach extraordinary aspects of ordinary things.
- Interpret facts in unusual ways.
Here are five writing principles that will help you move the needle and create more viral content.
1. The principle of unique definition
When introducing a new product or service to your target audience, represent it from a new angle. As people don’t know what you are going to tell them, the principle of unique definition will let them understand your point of view and the nature of objects you describe.
In other words, give a simple definition of your niche that all people will understand:
The principle of defining new things works, too. Readers should understand what you are trying to say.
Our consciousness can consume new information only by means of existing ones. So, try to define unknown through known when introducing something new to people.
For example, did you know that the first car ever was introduced as “a horseless carriage”?
Or, what about this kind of definition?
“A blogger is not who writes but one whom reads.”
2. The principle of contrast
For content creators, the task is to persuade readers. Persuasion and conversion go hand-in-hand, so play upon the meaning of words and images in a way to touch people’s feelings and make them believe you.
The principle of contrast wins here. When you place two dramatically different definitions or images in a row, readers remember your copy better.
Here it is in action:
Two drastically opposite definitions (war and warmth) come together to build a positive image of a soldier. He is kind, he is strong, and he defends us from bad guys.
After all, a person who loves kittens can’t be bad, huh?
Image Source: Little Things
You can achieve the principle of contrast with the help of antonyms:
“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” ~Archilochus
Omar Khayyam was a genius of using this principle in his ruba’i:
“To wisely live your life, you don’t need to know much
Just remember two main rules for the beginning:
You better starve, than eat whatever
And better be alone, than with whoever.”
The principle of contrast helps you make arguments stronger and, therefore, more memorable for readers due to the emphasis you place on them.
One more example comes from William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130:
“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.”
Contrasting his beloved one to the sun, coral, snow, and wire, the author wants us to understand how extraordinary this woman is.
Some more examples of using contrast in marketing:
- “Holidays gone, but kilos stay?” (Fitness)
- “Some get old, some get mature.” (Dewar’s 12 Special Reserve)
- “Long night of short films.” (a movie festival)
Image Source: Romania-Insider
3. The principle of comparison
As some writers joke, if you don’t have words to describe a thing – compare (or oppose) it to something. The trick is to choose an interesting object of comparison.
“The difference between ‘I like you’ and ‘I love you’ explained. When you like a flower, you just pluck it. But when you love a flower, you water it daily.”
~ Author Unknown
But be careful while choosing things or phenomena to compare in your content. With an eye to not sound awkward, controversial, or stupid, make sure your comparison will at least be up to scratch, if not relevant.
In A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking did it right:
Image Source: Twitter
4. The principle of parallel
This one is close to comparison but less straightforward: you take the information you need to get across to readers and draw an analogy to something that makes this info more understandable and memorable for them.
Image Source: Pinterest
The principle of parallel can become your magic weapon of making bare facts interesting. Thus, when I was a listener to the training about Excel, the speaker introduced himself as follows:
“I am an Excel expert born in the year of this program’s first launch.”
And here is how the principle of parallel works in marketing posts on social media:
Image Source: Twitter
When you change the order of elements in two parallel rows, it’s a kind of the given principle, too. Known as chiasmus, or structure reversal, it’s widely used in literature and speeches.
“Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind.”
– John F. Kennedy
5. The principle of asking the right question
Socrates was among the first gurus evaluating the significance of asking the right questions, and every PR manager would confirm that questions can engage, make us think, and goad into communication. That is why it seems strange that content writers use them so rarely.
Here are some examples:
- “Have no time to visit a doctor?” (the ad on a med website)
- “Is your 3D smart enough?” (the ad for Smart TV)
Questions work well for banners and article subheadings. As you know, users scan a text to decide whether they want to continue reading it; so, the trick with questions can catch the eye and get readers interested in your information.
And that’s how top blogs use it:
Image Source: Problogger
One more from Jon Morrow’s blog:
Image Source: Smart Blogger
Forget about starting your sentence with negatives, as it awakes bad feelings and associations in readers, blocking their subconscious and preventing them from loving your text to the full.
I write about negatives in texts, not headlines. As far as we know, headlines such as “You Will Never Write These Words After…” or “You Won’t Believe What Happens When…” attract readers and make them click, but there is one problem with them, perfectly described by Jessica Mehring in her article for Copy Hackers:
Negatives are worth using only if your content delivers the promise you made in a headline. Imagine yourself a reader of your text: you click with the hope to find promised information, but everything you get is wordiness.
Content creators, as well as copywriters are masters of playing upon the meaning of words. Still, they should be careful while choosing them to avoid a negative reaction of recipients.
Citing C. J. Cherryh, “it is perfectly ok to write garbage – as long as you edit brilliantly.” Once you’ve chosen words and written them down, go back and edit them.
Edit. And edit again.
Do you use any of these principles while writing your content? Do they work for your audience?
Guest Author: Emily Johnson is a content creator of OmniPapers and contributor to many online publications on digital and content marketing. You can always find more works of hers on Twitter.