Content Marketing: Content Marketing Basics – Viral Strategies

There’s an art and a science to making your content go viral across social media and other channels. This lesson explains the key components of a viral post.

The ultimate goal of any content marketer is to have their post go viral.

A post is considered viral when it reaches a massive audience in a short amount of time.

For example, remember when BuzzFeed posted an image of a dress and asked everyone to guess the color?

That post immediately went viral across all social media channels and brought in a lot of sales for the creators of the famous dress.

Although there isn’t a specific formula you can follow to create viral content, there’s a framework you can apply to your posts to increase your chances of attaining viral success.

This framework is called the STEPPS framework.

STEPPS is an acronym for Social Currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value, and Stories.

It was developed by Jonah Berger, a marketing professor at Wharton, to identify the characteristics that make certain posts go viral.

Social currency refers to our inherent need to look good in front of other people. As Jonah Berger puts it “people share things that make them look good to others.”

You can create social currency by creating content that will make your visitors look good in the eyes of their peers.

For example, you can create a “How To” post that shows how to solve a specific problem.

The Triggers component of the STEPPS framework refers to the “stimuli that prompt people to think about related things.”
In other words, viral content should contain something that will stick in the minds of your customers long after they interact with your brand.

For example, you could create content that people will recall every time they see something.

The emotion component of the STEPPS framework refers to people’s desire to feel something when they consume content.

If you take a look at some of the most viral posts on the internet, you’ll notice that the majority of them have a strong emotional hook.

Your content could cover any emotion, from happy to sad. However, light-hearted and upbeat posts tend to have the highest success rates.

Public refers to the idea that people tend to share and imitate things that everyone else around them is doing.

Therefore, it’s important to include social proof in your content when you can.  Social proof is evidence that the public has approved of your product or service. So this could include testimonials, recommendation, positive reviews from customers. 

The Practical value component is based on the idea that people are more willing to share content if it provides practical value and helps others.

Jonah Berger suggests that you should “package your knowledge and expertise so that people can easily pass it on.”

Finally, the Stories component of the STEPPS framework refers to people’s love of stories.

Stories have been popular since ancient times, and they continue to be a popular way to deliver information.

As a result, your content should always have a strong narrative that relates to your audience’s main pain points.