Friday, February 21, 2014

Tips For Going Viral

The Cover Photo on BuzzFeed.... via
In case you missed it, the last few days have been extraordinary. I, me, Jami Pack, had an article go viral. Probably in the top 10 weirdest things that have ever happened to me. Behind like breaking my wrist and not knowing for 4 weeks and being video taped by MTV falling down a flight of stairs. But those are stories for another time. So what does "going viral" mean exactly? Here is what happened, my article 16 Things Only People With Unique Names Will Understand had 3.5 million total views in 36 hours. And I became the top ranking contributor to the BuzzFeed Community with one post. I have had more traffic on my blog in the past few days than I have had ever. EVER. My article has been tweeted by an actress and an author and shared more than a million times on Facebook. I have received several emails offering me work and asking me questions about writing in general. And the article has now been translated into Spanish and Portuguese and going viral overseas now as well. With all that happening, I have been trying to process this whole experience into something that I can learn from and possibly repeat.

What makes something go viral on the internet? Now, I don't think you can make something go viral but you can put yourself in a situation that will better the chances. Here are my tips for helping yourself go viral.

1. Write about things you care about rather than what you think people want to read.

Here's the thing, readers can tell when you are just trying to get their attention. They can tell if you are just regurgitating information from the web or when you are mimicking another viral item, so your best bet is to be original. I wrote my viral piece as a way to deal with an aggravating experience I had that day involving my name. I had no idea so many people experienced the same problems. I was just going about my business writing about something personal to my life, trying to create some backlinks to my blog. The important thing to remember here is write about what you care about and do it often.

2. Put your work in front of as many eyes as possible.

I chose to publish that article to BuzzFeed because I love that site. But there are several others just like it that you can use as well. The point being these sites have a lot of clout and have the abilities to get your work in front of millions of eyes quickly. Much faster than you would on your own blog despite all the social media sharing outlets you can use. It's just a fact. Don't be deterred by these sites because you want to retain your own work. It's still your work, they just get the benefit of promoting your awesomeness to the front page of their site. I mean, unless you have access to some high profile people to do your bidding for you, this is your best bet. And it works. I am living proof.

3. Write something that is relatable, easy to read and easy to share.

Now this is the toughest part because you still need to write about something you care about, it just needs to be easy for the audience. There is absolutely nothing wrong with writing a full length article but you should break it up with pictures, diagrams and bullet points so you don't lose your audience. I prefer to use lists, if you haven't noticed. That is just what works for me. I also use humor and lots of pictures. But the most important part of this is speaking to your audience to the point that they feel like they need to share it with their facebook friends, twitter and tumblr followers. The best way to do that, in my opinion. is to specify a group (people with unique names, The Walking Dead Fans, etc.) and speak directly to them. I used "You" a lot in my post. Open letters also work for this reason. Shocking and heart-breaking stories also provoke action. And pictures, memes, gifs, and lists can also accomplish the same thing. You just want them to feel like you wrote the piece for them. Now I didn't realize I was doing that, but it is what I learned.

4. Stop checking on it and work on something new.

Like I said before, you cannot make something go viral. Do the best you can by sharing it everywhere you have available and stop worrying about it. Sometimes it takes weeks to go viral. Just don't give up. Keep posting new things. Keep being creative and unique. Post articles, lists, whatever to as many sites as you can. The more you have out there, the more opportunities you have to go viral. It's a fact. Play the numbers. Some people get lucky and hit it on the first try. Others can take years. But the point is to just keep being your awesome self and always working on new material and creating backlinks to you and your work.

Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions, suggestions or ideas. I also am testing my theory with my new piece 18 Things The Walking Dead Taught Me About People. Feel free to check it out if you are a fan of the show or just want some examples for research. Let me know what you think!

Later Gators,

-Jami Lynn