Imagine putting a piece of social media content into the world. You snap a picture, create a meme, write a witty caption or scribe a blog post.
You head to bed that night with a sense of pride and accomplishment. In the morning, you awaken to a previously unknown reality.
Your seemingly innocent post has blown up overnight with millions of likes, thousands of comments, and hundreds of shares.
You've just achieved the dream of every content creator, client and marketer in the 21st century. Almost on accident, you have gone viral.
It's something you had only dreamed about in the past. It's something content creators spend millions of dollars attempting to replicate.
And it's something companies like Buzzfeed seem to do almost instantaneously.
What does it mean to go viral? And is it something that you can plan?
To explore this, let's follow a local cat cafe hoping to make it big by creating the next "keyboard cat."
The word "viral" is derived from "virus" - an infective agent that can quickly and effectively multiply to every cell within the body. The idea is the same for social media marketing.
A viral piece of content is one that has been seen, liked, shared or viewed by thousands of people in a short amount of time.
Viral marketers work around the clock to create content that has the potential to reach thousands of eyes. Even though it is not an exact science, there are some essential tips that can help.
In the case of the recently opened cat cafe, it all comes down to audience engagement. Their goal is to entertain their current audience, while enticing new audience members to view and engage with their content. Their content should do the following:
Think back to the most recent "viral" post you saw. Maybe it was a hilarious meme about current events or a video of a man falling off a ladder.
Whatever the content, viral videos are always relatable to a considerable section of the population.
People are using social media to communicate with those previously out of reach. This could be a long-distance friend or an older relative.
More recently, studies have found that social media users spend much of their time interacting with brands and influencers.
Social media users want a connection. They want to know they're communicating with live people behind the brand's logo.
In the case of the Kitty Kat Cafe, relatability is vital for gaining followers outside of their niche market of cat ladies.
Instead of posting a lengthy video of Fluffy chasing a laser light, they should elect to post a photo of the groggy kitty with an extreme case of the "Mondays."
In early 2019, Marie Kondo began trending when she released her special on Netflix. The queen of "tidying up" inspired millions of people to declutter their homes, keeping only the items that brought them joy.
Marie Kondo went viral for the same reason Buzzfeed's Tasty videos reach hundreds of thousands of people each time they're posted—they're useful.
People are more likely to view content if it provides helpful and actionable tips. This takes the relatability a step further by inviting the consumer to apply the advice to their own lives.
For the Kitty Kat Cafe's second post, they should create a blog post featuring items every cat lover needs to own.
This will give their readers a chance to interact more with the brand while learning more about other products and building a trusting relationship with the cafe.
People see hundreds of posts every minute. What will you do to get them to stop and interact with your content?
The Harvard Business Review suggests playing on common emotions like curiosity, amazement and interest.
This doesn't mean that every viral post doesn't have to be a sob story—you can engage your audience with any number of emotions.
Look at the video "Charlie Bit Me." Since 2007, this video has garnered over 182 million views on YouTube because this short clip plays on multiple emotions: empathy, laughter, curiosity and joy.
Kitty Kat Cafe should create daily features about the cats currently living in the cafe. Each post should contain an adorable picture or short clip of the cat in question, accompanied by a concise bio that either tugs on the heartstrings or give their audience a good chuckle.
There is no magical method to ensure the Kitty Kat Cafe goes viral. However, if they follow these few simple guidelines, they will be well on their way to forging a connection with their audience and providing entertaining and relatable content.