Contagious Content

Three secrets to viral content development…and enhancing the customer experience.

Contagious Content

Creating content that goes viral doesn’t happen overnight. Learning to craft content and observing what your potential customers think is a process of careful observation. And though we all want to generate content that sets the web on fire right away, it’s a process.

Take a lesson from Neetan Zimmerman. Never heard of him? Chances are you’ve seen his content. He works for Gawker—that site that props content on almost every major news publication online—and in November 2013 alone, his content was viewed 17 million times: more than all of the other staff content writers combined. As Gawker’s most-viewed writer, he works 12 hour days and spends all of those twelve in front of a tablet and a laptop, searching the web for content ideas. He has a few interesting treasure troves of content that he patrols, and he is constantly finding and rejecting sites on his top 1,000 list for content secrets.

Here are Neetan’s top secrets for viral content.

  • Put in the hours. Nothing can substitute for research.
  • Cast a wide net. He looks at 1,000 sites per day. You might not find the time to do it yourself, but at least do an hour a few times a week and hire someone to research the rest of the time. Incorporate your findings into tomorrow’s search.
  • Aspire to Inspire. Human interest stories are the heaviest generators of viewers, especially content that invokes deeply felt emotions.
  • Play the percentages. Neetan posts at least 10 articles each day; not all get millions, but some do…
  • Study your data. Find out what is and isn’t working as often as possible.
  • Timing, timing. Posts do best at 9am and noon, Eastern Standard Time. You can guess why and it rhymes with “bunch.” Similarly, don’t post anything during rush hour.
  • Package it well. Choose a compelling headline, combined with an interesting angle.
  • Be social. Sharing drives views so write for sharing. Landing on Reddit’s main page can be a gold mine.
  • There’s no secret. Other than diligence, that is.

In other words, you have to know content across the web and be more up-to-date than you probably thought you needed to be; there is no substitute for knowing your subject matter and for doing your research.

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