Viral marketing

When I was young, viruses were things to be avoided at all costs, and “going viral” meant that one had come down with a case of the measles and had to be quarantined right away.

Shareable content

Nowadays, going viral is a good thing, and second only to shooting lasers from one’s eyeballs in terms of sheer awesomeness factor.

Content marketers seek viral status – by creating shareable content – with relentless fervor, always hoping that their content will contain that magic ingredient that enables it to be promulgated throughout cyberspace.

The truth is, there is no single magic ingredient.

Content can go viral for a variety of reasons. It can be remarkably humorous or incredibly interesting, or perhaps it pertains to a recent event currently in the global spotlight.

Check out Buzzsumo’s roundup of the most viral and shareable content of 2016. You’ll notice that the content doesn’t really have much in common, other than insane social reach, with news from the medical and scientific communities performing particularly well.

Now, onto the reason why you clicked on this post: finding out how you too can create shareable content.

Disclaimer: using these tips won’t guarantee that your posts get shared, but they’ll provide a good framework for the type of content you need to create in order to drive social engagement.

For content to be sharable, it should possess one or more of the following properties:

A personal story

Shareable content

People love stories that they can relate to and actually identify with. Especially if you are in an “authority” position, for example as an expert blogger on one topic or another, sharing stories and accounts from your own life, and sharing your own experiences, helps build rapport with your audience.

As an example, the recent post I wrote about how blogging helped me regain a sense of purpose, has so far been one of the most popular yet!


Weird is good. Bizarre is good. Extraordinary is…well, you get the picture.

I co-manage the social media channels of a well-known access automation brand, and not too long ago, I posted a photo of a snake coiled quite comfortably inside a gate motor gearbox. To date, that post has had the highest organic reach and blew other posts out of the water in terms of shares, comments and so on.


If you are able to latch onto an ongoing news story or event, great, but do make sure that it somehow relates to your brand. Do some research and see what’s trending on social media, what are the most popular hashtags and craft your content around that data.


Why so ssserious, right?Shareable content

Let’s face it, life is serious enough as it is, so if you are able to light things up a little, perhaps through a clever and creative meme, chances are your audience will respond positively. But again, relevance is key.

Rich media

In this positively fascinating Hubspot article on the most important social media marketing stats of 2017, we learn that posts containing images are 2.3 times more likely to see engagement than text-only posts.

The use of rich media such as images and video is becoming increasingly important in social media marketing, and you shouldn’t be relying on text alone – no matter how funny or interesting the content is – to drive engagement.

You can even make your own amazingly professional animated shorts and explainer videos with a service such as Animatron, or design eye-popping infographics with one of my very favorite websites, the brilliant Canva.

Posted by Charl Mijnhardt

Charl Mijnhardt is an established freelance writer with a special interest in wellness and mental health. He is also an experienced technical writer with many years' experience writing for the security industry. He currently lives in South Africa with his wife, Nastasia, and his cat, Gizmo. Hire him to write engaging copy for your website, blog, e-book, newsletter or marketing communications.

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