Viral articles are word of mouth worthy, and will grow your site more so than any other kind of content. Previously, I examined six strategies you can use when you want to create content with a decent chance of going viral. In this post, I want to focus on 37 concrete ideas for viral posts that should be readily applicable to your niche.
This post could be a useful port of call the next time you run out of inspiration, or if you want to try something different with your content.
What are the benefits of writing viral posts?
As part of the Simple Web post series I established the reasoning behind my personal philosophy of trying to simplify down to only taking actions with the potential to grow your site. In my experience, posts I’ve written that have gone viral (at least within this niche) have grown Skelliewag more than any other kind of post. From what I’ve observed, this seems to hold true across all blogs and websites.
Viral posts are rarely produced effortlessly. They take time and care to produce, and it shows in the finished product. Many of us like the idea of creating viral content but lament that we don’t have enough time. Luckily, more time is not what we need.
Time can always be made by changing the way you distribute it. Rather than writing short posts daily, what if you wrote three short posts and one carefully constructed, virally targeted post a week? Unless those short posts are quite profound, you are likely to find that the virally targeted posts grows your blog far more than the four short posts would have.
Won’t readers get sick of virally targeted posts?
Mason of SmallFuel Marketing gave an insightful answer to the question I asked at the end of Under the Microscope: Six Strategies for Building Viral Content: “How would it affect your site if every article you wrote was designed to go viral — even if it meant you had to post less?”
His initial response was: “I think if every post were written “to go viral” it would probably burn out the regular readers (and possibly yourself).”
In many ways, I agree with him, though I think there is an easy work-around. Constantly trying to go viral through the same methods will bore your readers, unless your site is built on a particular type of viral content (Smashing Magazine or Mashable and resource lists, for example). Any site needs varied and diverse content, so it’s important to approach viral targeting from an ever-changing angle.
A final point to consider is that calling something ‘viral’ is a catchier way of calling it word-of-mouth worthy. Creating word-of-mouth worthy content won’t bore your readers because what’s worth talking about is, in most cases, high quality.
As long as you explore a variety of possibilities for virality, working on viral posts is one of the best ways to grow your site.
- Assemble one sentence/paragraph answers to a question you ask key figures across your niche.
- Create a time spectacle: create content non-stop over a designated period of time (8hrs, 24hrs?).
- Write a review of the redesign of a popular blog/website in your niche. Everyone has an opinion on redesigns and will appreciate someone laying out some of their own thoughts.
- Assemble a directory of great interviews conducted with prominent/interesting figures in your niche.
- Construct a central hub of posts written on a specific, focused topic of great importance to your niche.
- Create a ranked list of products, services, people, or some other variable, within your niche.
- Offer a free service to everyone who asks, utilizing one of your skills. Then expect nothing in return.
- Write a history of your niche’s presence online. What have been its earliest blogs and websites? Its most popular? Are they still around?
- Begin a group writing project.
- Assemble a directory of tips on a topic, delivered in the form of quotes from other sites in your niche.
- Build a quiz for readers to test their niche knowledge.
- Offer to write a guest-post for anyone who asks. View it as a long-term commitment: could you manage one guest post a week? The task only becomes insurmountable if you want them all done at once. People will be patient if the service has no strings attached.
- Conduct a short interview, both containing the same questions, with two prominent figures in your niche, and display the answers side-by-side, allowing us to compare the answers.
- Assemble a large number of one-sentence tips on a specific topic.
- Simpsonize some key personalities in your niche.
- Assemble the most interesting or thought provoking quotes that apply to your niche, even if the person quoted was not talking about your niche specifically.
- Ask readers a question and have them answer it on their blog/website. Then link to the collected answers from a central hub post.
- Write a post carefully arguing a view that you feel many of your readers will agree with.
- Take reader questions and answer them in one post. These can be questions about you, your niche, or your site. Set boundaries if necessary.
- Link to online tools, software and sites any person taking part in your niche should know about.
- Organize an initiative and get other bloggers involved.
- Take a birds-eye view of your niche, analyze its strengths and weaknesses.
- Predict what your niche will look like in 5, or 10, or 50 years.
- Create a list of feeds you believe everyone interested in your topic should be subscribed to.
- Answer a question many of your headers may have, but have not asked because of its complex nature. Some questions of that nature that might be unspoken by readers in this niche, for example, are: What do I do if my blog isn’t growing as I hoped it would? How long will it take my site to start generating a worthwhile income? Is there ever going to be a big enough audience for a site in my niche?
- Address a general ‘want’ shared by most readers in your niche. What are the key three things readers of your site want? For this site, that might be: more traffic, more links, more subscribers. To address the want for more subscribers, I might write a post called: “Ten Innovative Ways to Get More Subscribers”. There have been plenty of posts on this subject, but readers are likely to have a look just in case there’s something they haven’t seen before. To make sure they’re rewarded, make certain you meet this need in an innovative/different way.
- The web is on a productivity/uncluttering trip at the moment. Can you write a guide to being more efficient or productive in your niche? Can you write a guide to getting organized in your niche?
- Visualize useful information and make it easy to share.
- Show readers how to construct a cheap object that will prove useful to them.
- Release a free ebook, packed with value.
- Write a post answering 5 important questions, then ask others to answer the same questions on their own sites, promising to link to the answers from a central hub post. Follow through on that promise.
- Take a famous/interesting person and ask: what approach would that person take to my niche? For example: The Leonardo Da Vinci Guide to Cooking.
- Create a ranked list of must-read books relating to your niche.
- Create a beginner’s tour of your topic. If you were showing a beginner the sights, what essential articles should they read to get a grip on your niche?
- Explore what you would change about your niche if you could. What are its short-comings?
- If you could only share 10 more tips with your readers, what would they be?
- Assemble a collection of amazing photos/images relating to your niche (some niches will be more suited to this than others).