Blogging can be a powerful marketing tool for your business. It can help your brand reach thousands to millions of your target customers with the aid of various digital marketing strategies, such as content marketing, search engine optimization, social media marketing, and analytics.
At Optixor, we create blogs for businesses or improve their existing blogs to maximize their web traffic and lead generation. We also build our own blogs as projects with specific purposes.
We have done several experiments to learn the secrets on creating a viral blog post. And in this article, I want to share to my readers what I have learned in creating a single blog post that attracted more than 500,000 visitors.
For popular sites like BuzzFeed and HuffingtonPost, which also have Facebook pages with over a million followers, creating a single blog post that reaches a million people is an easy task. But for new and small sites with only few Facebook followers, creating a single blog post that attracts a hundred thousand readers isn’t an easy feat.
Though I can’t fully disclose the post that we experimented due to some confidentiality concerns, I think what’s more important is the useful lessons, tips and tricks that I will be sharing to you now.
So here are 10 ways on how to create a single viral blog post that can attract more than half a million visitors even if you have a relatively new site and only few Facebook followers:
1. Target a cult-like audience.
A cult-like audience is composed of people who are dedicated to a brand, whether it’s a product, place, business or a person. They usually form groups and tribes on social media, such as Facebook, LinkedIn or in website forums.
Some of the examples of these audiences include:
– die-hard fans of a specific tech product
– dedicated supporters of a popular politician
– die-hard fans of a famous celebrity
– enthusiastic followers of a popular movie or TV show
– nationalists of a specific country
Aside from the above, you can still think of other dedicated audience that will match your target market.
A simple way to determine if your target audience is dedicated is to check if it has many groups created in social media. You can simply use Facebook Search Graph to find out if there are several groups that were created by your target audience.
I tried searching Star Wars, and it’s obvious that the movie has a cult following. Now it’s your turn to find a dedicated target audience.
2. Target an opposing audience to create heated discussions.
The key ingredient to creating a viral blog post is to make it controversial. So aside from just targeting a single audience, you can also try to get the attention of its opposing audience. For example if you are targeting the hardcore fans of Star Wars, you can also think about getting the attention of Star Trek’s hardcore followers. But how will you do it? The answer is to create a headline that will capture both the attention of the two opposing audiences. Read my next tip.
3. Create a headline that will ignite emotions and strong reactions.
The headline of your blog post is the first thing that will penetrate the minds, imaginations, and emotions of your target audience. As I said earlier, a good headline that can send massive traffic to your blog is one that can spark controversy among your target audience and their counterpart.
Here’s an example of a headline that can catch the attention of your target audience, as well as their counterpart:
“10 reasons why you should not watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens”
How will it draw so much attention?
First, it will be strongly objected by Star War fans and make them visit your site to share their objections through comments. Second, Star Trek fans will be curious about the content and the reasons why the post suggests such headline.
This step will increase the Click-through rate of your blog post in social media, but to make it viral, here are more tricks that you should know.
4. Put an element of surprise in your content.
The element of surprise in your content will be the main ingredient that will make your blog post shareable in social media. Take note that your headline is responsible for making your blog post clickable, but it is your content that will make your post shareable. Without useful content, your visitors will only find your blog a dead-end.
So here’s an example of surprising your target audience:
Using our sample headline “10 reasons why you should not watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, you can surprise your audience by providing them content that they don’t expect. Rather than giving them a list of 10 reasons why the film is not worth to watch, you can try the following examples of reasons they might not be expecting:
– Because Star Wars: The Force Awakens is too awesome you might pee in your pants
– Because the force is too strong with this one
You may also increase the quality of your content by including hard data like interesting facts and statistics about how good the Star Wars franchise is.
Remember that your content should be clever and surprising enough that your audience will eagerly want to share it on social media to surprise their friends too.
5. Share your blog post in your Facebook Page.
Now if you already have a catchy headline and a surprisingly delicious content, your next task is to begin spreading it across social media. And this is why you need to have a Facebook Page.
Blog posts can become trending on Facebook, Twitter, and other crowded social media platforms. But in my case, Facebook was the one that opened the floodgates of traffic to our blog. Most Facebook users are also Twitter users. Hence, they might also tweet what they share on Facebook.
Aside from making an irresistibly clickable headline, make sure to also use an engaging image that will serve as a featured image or thumbnail in your social media posts. Your image should also conform to Facebook’s advertising guidelines. Take note that your photo should not include texts that cover more than 20% of the image area, otherwise Facebook will not allow you to boost your post through Facebook Ad.
6. Promote your blog post in related Facebook groups.
This is where my tip #1 becomes handy. Cult-like audience, dedicated followers, die-hard fans, whatever you want them to call, they normally gather as a group in social media. Thus, you have to find those groups and join them. As I said in tip #1, you may use Facebook search to find the groups that were created by your dedicated target audience.
To implement viral marketing, we should also do tribal marketing. But tribal marketing isn’t only a process of joining a group and just share your stuff there, hoping that the group members will like and click your posts. Tribal marketing includes building good relationships with the members and being useful with the whole tribe. Therefore, before promoting any content to any group, make sure that they are valuable to the group as a whole.
Furthermore, don’t forget to interact and create rich discussions with the members of the group. In other words, don’t just share your blog post in the group and leave them, but reply to its comments and share useful answers.
7. Share your blog post with influential people or brands.
What happens when your blog post is shared by the leaders and influencers of your target audience? Yes you’re right, their followers also share them. So a smarter way to make your blog post viral is to reach out the influencers who have a direct relationship with your target audience. They can be influential people or brands. They usually have Facebook Pages and Twitter accounts.
To reach influencers try to do these:
– mention them in your tweets
– mention them in your Facebook posts
– interact with them in social media where they participate most actively
– don’t be shy to reach them via email
– or best way is to make friends with them
8. Boost your post with Facebook Page post engagement ad.
If your Facebook Page has already millions of followers, you could easily reach a million people with a single post. However, if your Facebook page has only a few thousand followers, you need to invest in Facebook post engagement advertising to extend your reach beyond the numbers of your current followers.
One of the advantages of using Facebook Ad is that it will enable us to make experiments until we hit the bull’s-eye. It also helps us determine if our content is going to be viral or not by checking the Cost per Engagement (CPE) of our ad if it’s too low or too high. Since Facebook Ad puts your content in a larger audience, you can have a broader knowledge about whether people are engaging (liking, commenting and sharing) your content or not.
In the Philippines, I can tell if a post is going to be viral if its CPE is less than 0.10 Philippine Pesos or 0.002 USD. If it’s higher than that, then it’s an indication that your post doesn’t have a potential to be viral, hence, it’s not worth to continue the campaign, and you have to try creating another blog post until you reach the ideal CPE.
Of course the success of your Facebook Ad campaign will also depend on your targeting. Here are some important tips to make it more successful:
– Make your campaign more specific. Define your audience location, interest, age, gender, and other demographics.
– Keep an eye on your ad’s potential reach. If its potential reach is only a few thousand people, then you might consider removing some specific restrictions.
– Customize your default headline and description to match your goals
– Limit the text in your image to not exceed 20% of the image area.
– Test various ads with different targeting, timing, images, and budget. Find out what works best, and stick with it while discontinuing the others to save money.
– Set a budget that will last for a week rather than a day.
9. Track and analyze your progress.
You have to check if your blog post is helping you achieve your goals. Is it going to be viral? Is it converting to sales and profit? Is it helping your business? There are several tools that can help you track and analyze your progress. The following are some of the tools I used to monitor and analyze the progress of my blog post that went viral:
– Facebook Page Insights and ad reporting tools. For monitoring blog post reach, engagement, ad metrics, and conversion on Facebook.
– Google Analytics. For monitoring and analyzing site’s real-time traffic, referrals, source, and other important metrics.
– Buzzsumo. For monitoring the blog post’s number of shares on various social media platforms (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest) and who shared them.
– Topsy. For monitoring the blog post’s number of tweets and mentions, as well as the people who tweet it and their reactions.
– Facebook Graph Search. For finding the latest and popular posts about your blog post and for reading their comments or feedback.
10. Don’t forget to have a reliable web hosting.
Finally, if you wish to generate half a million or even a million traffic in one week, make sure that your web hosting can handle the traffic spike. Don’t wait for the massive traffic to shut your unreliable hosting down to realize that you need to upgrade. You have to prepare for the traffic surge, otherwise your efforts would be wasted and your opportunities will be replaced with headaches. If you’re still using a shared hosting, consider upgrading it to a powerful VPS or better a dedicated server to have a peace of mind when your blog’s traffic suddenly skyrockets.
There you are, I hope that the tips and lessons I shared will give you some ideas on how to create a single viral blog post that could generate 500,000 visitors or more. Remember that though it worked for me, I don’t guarantee that it would also work for you, as our success depends on several factors, such as the difference in our niche, industry, target audience, and tactics implemented. However, I know that from the tips I mentioned above, you can use them according to your unique goals and devise a strategy that will generate even better results.