11 Methods That Will Make Your Content Marketing Campaign Go Viral

gone viral

Have you ever wondered how some bloggers and online entrepreneurs manage to crank out tons and tons of useful and exciting new content on a daily basis, and others…

…well, others can’t even crank out one useful piece of content a month!

And don’t even get me started on marketing it.

There are a number of bloggers who actually can write AMAZING content, but they are clueless marketers and can’t get any of it to go viral.

If you have struggled with any of the issues mentioned above, it’s okay: you are not alone, and there is nothing wrong with you. Every writer, digital strategist, or content marketer has struggled with the same thing!

What you need to do is learn the necessary skills to not only write killer content but also market it like a pro.

That changes today.

To make this super-organized and logical, I’ve divided it into two major sections.

  1. First, you have to plan and write awesome content.
  2. Second, you have to market it.

You must do both, and I’ll show you exactly how to do both with step-by-step instructions.

Some people think all they have to do is write content and the world will come knocking at their doors, linking to their content, and sharing their articles.

Write an article. Hit publish. Sit back and make money, right?

Nope. It doesn’t work that way.

In order to succeed at content marketing, you have to do both: the writing and the promoting of your content.

Remember this:

  1. Content never written won’t be promoted.
  2. And content not promoted might as well not have been written in the first place.

No matter how awesome your content is, if you’re not marketing it, sharing it, and promoting the heck out of it, nobody will read it.

With this straightforward guide, you’ll learn the process I use to make my content go viral. 

Part I: Planning and Writing Viral-Worthy Content

This is where things start—planning and writing.

Most people know this much. You have to plan an editorial calendar, get your butt in a chair, and write the articles.

That’s good as a start, but it’s not quite good enough. I have six points that will help you not just create content—but create viral content.

It starts with the early stages of content ideation and planning. Here’s what you need to know.

1. Define the objective of your content

The first and most important thing you can do before your pen ever touches paper or your fingers touch the keys is to define the objective of your content.

As the old quote goes,

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

If you do not have a definite goal for your content, not only will you likely write an incoherent piece, but you will also likely have difficulty marketing it in the proper channels.

As I detail in my Advanced Guide to Content Marketing, there are several goals you need to define before you start churning out content.

  • Decide how you will use this content to grow your business. (Is it to generate leads, improve sales, boost your marketing, or create a community? There is no wrong answer—it’s up to you.)
  • Decide on a specific goal for the content once you have determined how it will be used.
  • Develop the core message that will be congruent through all your content.
  • Identify your competition and analyze them.

A content marketing Excel sheet like the ones pictured below can be a huge help.

image01

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You can find samples and templates for these spreadsheets online.

Here’s one from the Content Marketing Institute. (Careful. That link will download the spreadsheet automatically.)

Econsultancy lists a variety of these free templates. Hubspot offers a few as well. I recommend you check these out before you spend hours creating and formatting your own.

A good calendar will include not just dates but the topic, the content, and the keyword focus of the article.

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The level of detail is up to you. Some campaigns are pretty simple and maybe only need a date and a title. Other campaigns can be advanced and may include details such as keyword focus, persona target, author, geotargeting, product focus, seasonal push, etc.

Keep things as simple as possible, and you’re more likely to succeed.

2. Focus on the headlines

Which would you be more likely to click on?

“How to Totally Shred Pounds of Fat and Uncover Your Dream Body in Only ONE Month!”

Or

“Burn Fat with This Program!”

The answer is obvious.

No matter whether you are creating videos, articles, or podcasts, the headline is one of the most important aspects of successfully getting your content in front of your target audience.

Make your headlines juicy and enticing, and your conversion rates will skyrocket. Bottom line: your business will grow.

Make your headlines boring and generic, and the most you’ll get is maybe hundreds of views (if that).

You’ve seen the juicy and tantalizing headlines all over the web. Even something as mundane as a pipeline can seem exciting when pitched the right way.

image04

You don’t need to be sensational to craft a great headline. Instead, you need to be hyper-focused on what your readers want and make a promise that earns their click.

In fact, you use a simple formula to make the process easier. Try this one, from Buffer.

image08

3. Don’t B.S. your readers

In your quest to create epic content, you have to realize that your reputation online is everything. It takes hard work to maintain your reputation, and it can be destroyed in a matter of minutes. Lost reputation can take years to rebuild.

EVERYTHING you publish should be well-researched and fact-checked (or have a decent train of logical thought if the concept you are trying to explain is more philosophical in nature).

If you start creating clickbait content that makes promises you cannot deliver on, your reputation will be tarnished and will be nearly impossible to recover.

However, even if you are putting out less content than the others in your industry, your content will still outperform your competitors’ if it is grounded in hard data. Telling the truth through your content, even when it’s ugly, will earn you a sterling reputation and the trust of your customers.

4. Make your content super actionable

Have you ever noticed that I strive to offer advice you can take action on immediately?

There is a reason why.

When people read articles, especially informative articles, they don’t want theory or conjecture. They want concrete steps they can act on right away—actionable steps.

I’ve learned what my audience wants, and I try as hard as I can to deliver it.

Whether you include an “Action Step” at the end of each of your articles or simply write in a style that carries actionable information throughout an article, it’s up to you. But you have to make sure whatever you put out there, people can act on it and act fast.

The model I use for making my content actionable looks like this:

image00

  • Create value and fix pain: The headline I created for my article promises a solution to your pain and an offer of value. Heck, it’s free for you to read this article, and you get plenty of great advice, right?
  • Build relationship: I’ve pulled you in. Now, I want to build a relationship with you. If you’ve been a reader for a while, or simply know about my success, you may already have a relationship with me. If not, you can check out my ugly mug on the sidebar or even email me.
  • Earn trust: In my article, I’m proving the fact that you deserve my trust. How? By providing solid researched and experience-based information.
  • Take action: You, the reader, can totally take action on this. In fact, based on these four bullets, you can develop your own plan of attack for an actionable content strategy.

5. Create engaging and original content

The Internet is full of crap, and if you want to succeed, you have to be the shiny diamond in the rough. One of my favorite examples of content that stands out is Craig Clemens’ article on “How to 10x Your Income Over the Next Four Years”.

Where most articles begin with something bland and generic about how you should wake up earlier, skip the Starbucks latte, and invest your pennies in some mutual fund, Craig comes out with a bang, offering the highly controversial, engaging, and original thought: the first step should be to cut out porn.

image07

This is engaging. Why? Because most people have a visceral response to something like porn.

The content is also original because Craig is willing to say something that not many people can say.

Originality is engaging, so don’t be afraid to stick your neck out there. It’s worth it.

6. Always include videos and pictures

A picture is worth a thousand words.

So, what is a 3,000-word article with 6 photos worth to someone?

While I will leave the math to you, it is important to realize humans are visual creatures and we process images much faster than text. If you want to increase the amount of user response and the number of social media shares, adding images and videos can be one of the best ways to do this.

image03

I try to include as many relevant images as possible in my articles.

It’s hard work finding those pictures and adding them into WordPress, but I’m willing to do it. Why? Because if this 2,000+ word article had zero images, you probably wouldn’t read it.

Part II: Marketing

Now, your article is written. You’re ready to level up to marketing.

I use the word marketing, but you can also think of it as promotion. You’re leveraging tactics to get your content in front of your audience.

Here’s exactly how to do it.

7. Get an awesome quote from an industry leader

We all know the power of social proof. This power is doubled when you can get it from an industry leader.

If you have created some epic content and already have built a solid platform to share it on (though this can work even if you are a total beginner), reaching out to an industry leader for their thoughts on your work is a great way to improve your content marketing through social proof and get your name associated with A+ players.

The process for reaching out to them is pretty straightforward as well.

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Send them an email or message, and boom. Instant credibility.

8. Reach out to people you see sharing similar content

If you ever see people who are constantly sharing content related to your niche and who are your Facebook friends, reach out to them and ask for a friendly share.

More often than not, if your content is good, people will be more than happy to do this, and it will likely win you a regular “share buddy” you can go to whenever you create some pretty exceptional content (which, if you remember points 3-5, should be pretty much always).

Besides, a lot of social media people and content creators are always looking for high-value stuff to share. You’re doing them a favor by letting them know about your content!

9. Turn your content into a video or podcast to broaden its scope

Some people prefer to learn through watching or listening, and some through reading. If you limit your content to the written word, you are massively short-selling yourself and your audience. You are cutting out a whole portion of your audience who might love your work but might not prefer its format.

The same is true if you are a YouTuber, reading this guide. Get on Fiverr, and pay someone to transcribe notes from your informational videos so that people with different learning styles can also have access to that information.

10. Email the sources you quote in your articles

If you are writing articles that require you to cite lots of sources, you have yet another great way to improve your content marketing!

Contact the most cited sources with the article, letting them know how important their work was to you, and ask if they would be willing to share it along their various channels of influence.

Say please, ask nicely, and you’re likely to get a positive response.

Again, this can be a great way to boost your credibility and get your content out there!

11. Create content worth marketing

Sure, this point may seem a little redundant, but it is worth repeating.

If your content sucks, why are you even trying to market it? What you are creating needs to offer value to the world, and even if it isn’t 100% original, it should offer insights and present the information in a way that the audience isn’t used to seeing.

You need to create great content before you can be great at marketing it.

Conclusion

Content marketing can be overwhelming.

There are so many different channels to market your content on that you may feel you can’t even choose which one(s) to pursue.

But relax, content marketing shouldn’t be this scary.

What’s most important is to create good content and do what you can to share it. Once you have mastered the basics, you can worry about the hard stuff.

Until then, enjoy and start creating outstanding content today.

In your experience, what kind of content goes viral? What did you do to make it happen? Let me know about your viral content experiences! I always love a good success story.

Comments

  1. Lot of thought and effort does go in this

    • 🙂

      • Anil Agarwal :

        Writing great content is not enough. You need to get the word out of it to reach wider audience.

        Fortunately, if you have great headlines they will attract a lot of buzz on social media and news aggregate sites.

        The headline formula from Buffer is rocking and worth giving it a try. Let me use it to quickly come up with a headline idea using it: “7 Incredible SEO Tactics to Quadruple Your Blog’s Traffic In Next 30 Days”

  2. Totally Agree with you Bro 🙂

  3. Andrea Allen :

    My major take-home from this article? The fact that “No matter how awesome your content is, if you’re not marketing it, sharing it, and promoting the heck out of it, nobody will read it.”

    THAT’S where I’ve been going wrong. I write, I create beautiful images, and I drop them here and there across the web and I think, ‘Well, there you go Google. I did my part. Now YOU go and market it.’

    Thanks Neil, for waking me up to the fact that I need to be a lot more active in actually actively marketing my content, because obviously Google and I aren’t that close…

    • lol yah I think we all realize that at some point. It’s a game and in order to play it, it takes lots of hard work and most importantly, hustle.

  4. Hi Neil. As always, you continue to deliver great tips every day. I especially liked the in depth explanation of “actionable” content. A lot of information out there isn’t actionable even though it pretends to be. Thanks for sharing this stuff with us!

    • I’m with you Bill. Being able to meet everyone where they’re at and presenting them with material accordingly.

  5. Lubka Henry :

    Good points and very well said. I like your writing style and you even made me think of.. getting quotes from people – brilliant idea! 🙂

  6. Jay Gregorio :

    Awesome and Very Informative Article. Thank you so much Niel, It Helps me a lot! 🙂

  7. akash patel :

    Hey, neil

    You have shared amazing points in this article. i just wanted to ask one question regarding promotion.

    Is email outreach to industries top influencers work or not for a new established blog?

    Because i didn’t get any positive reply in past for email outreach strategey for my new blog.

    Looking forward for your reply.

    Akash

    • It’ll be hard work, especially when you’re new. In order to get authority blogs, you may have to get on a bunch of sucky blogs first to build up your profile

  8. Rijina Minj :

    I feel like I am lucky because I keep on getting always new things from you. Thanks a lot for sharing with me.

  9. Himmat Chahal :

    “Failing to plan is planning to fail” is one of two quotes that I regularly think on. I feel it to be very true — something vaguely similar to the concept of not truly understanding anything you can’t articulate with words.

    The other quote is something like, “Most of life’s greatest failures didn’t know how close to success they were when they gave up.” That one has helped me personally a lot although I can see it not everyone needing it 🙂

    Nice article! As you mention, readers love actionable information.. it is definitely why I check your blog nearly every day now.

    • There’s a story in think and grow rich about a guy who was digging for gold and couldn’t find any so he stopped. He sold the land and someone else continued digging and struck gold. Sometimes you’re right there, 3 feet from gold, and you just got to keep on going. Perseverance.

  10. Awesome.
    Every time I enter your blog I always learn something new.
    Thanks for sharing.

  11. I always include video + image in more posts nowadays (if not one or the other sometimes standalone) to increase reader engagement. Since doing so, I’ve noticed increased visitor retention, slightly increased shares of content to Pinterest, Google +, Facebook, and LinkedIn. The key to keeping traffic on your site is consistently sharing to social networks after content is published.

  12. It’s difficult for the shy to overtly market. But seeing as how my blog is getting little to no traffic, guess I’ll have to ‘buck up’ and get over shyness. Great content Neil; hope I can rise to this level. Thx so much

    • Donna,

      Are you creating quality content for your blog daily and uploading YouTube videos to your channel with deep links to pages within your blog to increase organic visibility in YouTube search results and search engine results page? If you’re not doing this daily perhaps it’s time to change your way of current thinking and step up your content marketing up a notch. Blog a long post once a day for 6 months and measure the difference in Google Analytics.

    • It takes time Donna, as you become better you will see bigger results

  13. Hi! Neil.

    Thanks for this great post.

    Content marketing sometimes feels like an insurmountable mountain to climb, but it is encouraging to know that others have the same challenges, therefore, I am not alone in this struggle 🙂

    Please can you answer the following two questions for me Neil (or even refer certain relevant posts that would assist me):

    1. How do you personally go about researching the content for the post you are going to write?
    2. What is the best way to find certain influencers to reach out to as per point no.7?

    Again, thanks for the awesome post. Your content is a great help for me to achieve online success.

    • 1. I’ve been in this business for over 10 years now, so I get to see all the cutting edge strategies before most people do
      2. Find the best blogs in your niche, write posts that help the influencer look good etc., then reach out to them asking if they can share. If it makes them look good, why wouldn’t they? That will help you build a relationship

  14. I am huge fan of you Neil and this is a great post, I struggle with headlines and also feel so much has been said already but have to focus on my unique angle and viewpoint and just do it, I did notice one thing in your post, when I went to pin the images I see there is no Image SEO , which surprised me , alt text is text that pulls up for Pinterest and I only see Image 04 so original image file name. Is it because you guys are not into Pinterest? I know you rank very well already and have killer content so just curious.

  15. Michaela Lindinger :

    there isn’t much to add than “AGAIN ANOTHER BRILLIANT NEIL ARTICLE”!!! Your stuff is truly spot on and I have an entire Neil-to-do-list full of great advice that I’d love to implement….the pitty is that it doesn’t get implemented as fast as you keep creating new stuff! need to get some prioritizing done here…. 🙂

  16. Great post! Reading through the comments and I think you are putting it all into one word.

    HUSTLE.

    All of the above and hustle get’s the post out there.

  17. Hi Neil, thanks for your blog!
    This may be off topic, but I think my promoted Facebook post has accidentally gone viral on Instagram and I have no idea how!
    I posted a video promoted post on FB, and I do have my Instagram account linked, but i didn’t create an Instagram ad. I have 45 likes on FB for the post, and its been displayed to 22k people, but FB is telling me that I have 6000 + views, and when I look at Instagram I have 7000 likes there, even though I never posted it on Instagram.
    Have you any idea what can be going on, I just can’t make any sense of it….

    • I’m not sure, but that sounds awesome! I would reverse engineer what you did to see if you can replicate it

  18. Thanks for this Informative post, will be implementing these in my future Marketing Campaigns!!

  19. Ahmad Fahrurroji :

    I just read and I think this method need to be implemented from now on as well.

    thanks bro.

  20. Where you find images? That’s the difficult part for me.

    Once again great article.

    One question to you: What bloggers do you follow and read ?

    Thanks

  21. Srinivasa Chaitanya :

    At the end of the day, Viral content is the winner. Attractive Title and viral content can get us some backlinks. I have seen that content with videos gets a lot of shares.

    Also, the best way to get email subscribers is to offer out readers a quiz. Mike had already done that at nutrition secrets.

    Even though I don’t have enough money to buy an infographic for my water purifiers niche sites, I have designed a decent infographic using free tools like Canva.

    • Yep you got it, a lot of has to do with emotions and the way you get your content to connect with your visitors

  22. Hello neil

    Thanks for one more mind blowing post.
    I still remember i found your blog through a google search while i was looking for negative SEO solution and after that i am regular reader of your post .every time i came here i learn new things even though hard to implement .

    I found in some case it’s hard to find the influencer is certain niche and its hard to market content may be it’s just hard for me.

    my take-home from this post is to build a relationship and profile in industry as it’s really very hard to get positive response if you are not established .

    Keep posting

  23. These tips are a god traction for a content marketing project. But what I want to add is the importance of “living in the middle of the field” That means that if you are a content marketer for the tech industry, you need to follow this tech industry, “breathe” the hot topics and follow the influencer (not only the one who share just links but also the one who connect and engage on social media). So you will know what type of content will have the potential to get viral, because you understand the industry!
    Conclusion: Live and breathe your industry!

  24. Super-organized and to-the point content with great examples…

    I would like to know ‘tool’ which you mentioned somewhere in you recent blog post about how to find trending banners / images and build you own banners.

    Thanks in advance..

    • Canvas.com works well

    • Hey Rahul,

      You can also use bannersnack.com (it is an easy-to-use banner creation app, with templates, fonts, professional stock photos). Even if I’m working for them, I find the tool very useful for every small business owner and marketer.
      Let me know if I can help you.

  25. Loved this article. I have been reading your articles since a while now. And applying the tips you share has been really fruitful.
    Thanks!

  26. Hey Niel,
    You used to Include pdf’s in your articles nowadays you’re not adding them to your posts, Please add them back.

  27. akshaykattam :

    Hi Neil,
    You are really awesome, we get very inspired reading your articles, i really believe that podcasts have taken blogs to a different level, i have to make a try on it, thank you for sharing.

  28. Thanks, very good methods and very good article.

  29. Heide Padilla :

    Hey, Neil,

    Great post. Just a thought. I don’t know about everyone else but even if your articles don’t have images, I’d still read them. Though the images help, too. 🙂

  30. Informative post… Great methods!

  31. Great post as always Neil. I’m thinking about how to integrate my own content with marketing for financial products and this post certainly gave me some good ideas!

  32. Hi Neil.

    I’m using one of your techniques in this blogpost and it has skyrocket my traffic almost overnight.

    I’ve used the influencer’s quotes and ask them to promote my blogpost to their Twitter or Facebook followers.

    It was an awesome experience and results.

    Thank you Neil!

  33. Edwin Torres :

    Sick! I’ve been doing a lot of video marketing lately and just dropping the videos I do on my blog. Do you recommend I write out what I talk about in my videos? So far I just have it set up where I presell the video or get them excited to watch it, and I embed the video.

    • Yes, I think there’s good percentage of people who will want to read your transcription in case they can’t watch. Also, having a transcription will also benefit you with SEO

  34. It works ! 😀

  35. Neil,
    It’s all great advice and I have been putting a lot of this into action.
    However there is always a huge obstacle to fashion blogging – the post sits in no-mans land for weeks/months before people can find it via Search Engines.
    Have you any advice for this particular problem?
    Because I may publish a post within 24 hours of the celebrity wearing the piece, but it doesn’t show up on Google for weeks/months, which is too late.

  36. Hi Neal,

    Thanks for the awesome post. Sometimes I used pint 6 strategies for my content marketing it realy work like a charm. I used infographic also.

    Thanks

  37. Neeraj Kumar :

    Hi Neil,
    Thanks again for a great valuable piece of advice.

    Today… I want to ask something. Something out of curiosity…

    I believe 🙂 you are an INFLUENCER. And many, I suppose, reach out to you for just one share of their works.

    Do you really oblige them with a facebook SHARE? The ones, who are nobody among your clan!

  38. your actually amazing Neil, I was generating content today and started to feel abit negative thinking how is this actually gonna work,

    This article gave me a purpose and got me back on track towards a target again

    You deserve the money you have,

    Remember however to spend it for your hereafter!

    One God!

    • I know it can be difficult at times Ubayda, but I know you can stick with it. I’m convinced the secret to success is perseverance.

  39. Hi Neil,

    Great tips. I am new to the scene. I will be implementing these tomorrow. Thanks for sharing!

  40. Selena Matheus :

    The frustrating thing is wanting to write content in your preferred niche and then seeing thousands of pages on the exact same thing. So even if you come up with a content creation strategy and consistent marketing calendar, getting traffic and visibility takes forever.

    How do you target low competition keywords with high volume that would propel your new blog to the top of rankings as quickly as possible to get you the firm foundation you then need to scale upwards?

    It seems everyone has a different strategy and they ALL use a paid tool like SEMRush. For us newbies, that subscription fee is too high to begin with.

    What would you suggest, Neil, as far as low competition, high volume keyword research goes?

    • Use google’s adword tool, it’s free.

      Focus on creating really good content, 1000+ words and you can make it happen. Even if there are lots of competitors, I wouldn’t worry about it, just produce and share value

  41. Online rockers hub :

    Great one. I found these tips working. But, to make your content viral, you need some big guy to share your content.

    • I agree, and many influencers can help you do that, you just got learn how to influence the influencers

  42. Thank you, Neil, very informative and indeed, very actionable. Thank you for providing super informative examples for further reading.

    Since I am new to the scene, can you point me to good sources of infografics, please? Or do I need to create them? There seem to be various tools available. Would you recommend one above the others?

    • I’m happy this was helpful Beate. Try out sites like upwork.com and post a job or sites like these https://venngage.com/

  43. I just needed this article. Thank you for the resources!

  44. Amanda Cerny :

    thanks for sharing very usefull information

  45. Karl Karrlander :

    Great stuff as always Neil, keep it up!

    I believe that the single most important key to effective content marketing is getting to know the audience you’re speaking to, making them feel as if you’re one of them, which is something you do well!

    Regards,

    Karl

  46. Thank you for sharing this post. very helpful post for me. Keep it up.

  47. Hi Neil,

    We are working on launching a new lifestyle magazine website in India. And in process we are creating some viral content for the launch.

    This article is very useful and handy for same. Bookmarked.

    Great work.

    • That sounds like an exciting project ZK! I hope that works out for you, let me know how the launch goes

  48. Chris Desatoff :

    Hi Neil,

    Man, I love your posts. So much good stuff in here. I especially like method #8. I draw comic strips, and there’s tons of other cartoonists on Instagram and elsewhere who seem fairly happy to reciprocate shares. I’ve picked up a lot of my IG followers just from shouting out other cartoonists on there.

    It works!

    Thanks for all the great tips that you share every week, Neil.

    Chris Desatoff
    Cartoonist, Freelance writer
    ChrisDesatoff.com

    • That’s awesome Chris. You’re a great example of the hustle, this is what you need to do to make something happen.

  49. Content is king on the web and always will be.

  50. Prashant arya :

    Hi neil
    Great strategies to make a viral content though the content need to be of rich quality and i liked the tables and graphs used to enhance the post. Always got some awesome things from your articles.
    Thank you

  51. very nice article neil. buti wanna know that how can i intimate mytext and vedios and pictures taht i can use them is there any easier way rather that to use photoshop

  52. JoAnne Funch :

    Neil

    to answer question, the type of content that gains the most shares for me have been with headlines tied to something hot in the news or a brand name. So stepping out of of box and being more creative is what people want to consume in text an in images. Thanks for the great article.

  53. Priyanka Mathur :

    Hi Neil,

    What if you don’t get much content in your niche ?

  54. www.guidetostressmanagement.com :

    Sharing content through an online community
    will help you establish authority, expand your
    audience, generate leads, attract investors, and solidify brand advantage.
    So how do you get your desired genes into a person’s body.
    At these meet and greets your fans are able to meet you,
    discuss your book or other books that are somehow
    related to your book.

  55. Hi Neil, I tried adding this post to my social media queues in buffer and noticed that the featured image is not getting detected.

    So just thought will let you know (in case you don’t know already) that your open graph tags may not have been set correctly 🙂

  56. Muhammad Usman :

    Quite possibly one of the most impressive blog post entries I’ve ever read. Well done Neil, outstanding stuff.

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