I've never had a hub go viral, so I have no idea what I'm talking about. All that qualifies me is that I regularly share and read "viral" material. As we look at alternatives to Google for traffic, some ideas are stewing in my head. This is what I think it takes for a hub to go viral. Those who have had a hub go viral - can you confirm or deny that your hub(s) fit these qualities?
1) It has to feel like a safe pass. What is a safe pass? Well, when we share online, we tend to do so either by email or social networking. Email is one-on-one. Easy to control who gets our emails. But who receives our updates on our social networking accounts? Work colleagues. Family. Good friends. Casual friends. Potential mates. Professional connections. Young people, Gen Y, Gen X, Boomers. People we do not want to offend. People we want to impress. People we forgot we ever knew who somehow made it onto our connections. People we hardly know at all. Not just one of those groups, but ALL of them have access to many of our updates.
So what does this mean? It means folks are a bit nervous about their friends lists and primarily forward stuff they think is safe - that is, both inoffensive and not harmful - for the LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR - the most easily offended or vulnerable - person on their friends list.
Thus, if the hub takes social risks (too liberal, too conservative, too whatever), uses adult language, or is too tongue-in-cheek (because that will tend to get taken literally by the lowest common denominator), it's less likely to be shared - and if it is shared, it's less likely to be read.
Note: The more extreme hubs that may not be safe for general social sharing might go viral if shared within a relevant topic forum or business account. As in, a person who might not share a link about gay rights from their personal Facebook account might share one in a discussion forum where the topic comes up. That's good, but that's not generally viral-level volume.
2) The hub's message has to be strong and concise enough that all the reader has to do is forward it - essentially, borrowing it to communicate an idea. If the reader has to explain or qualify or trim the length or do any kind of alteration, he's less likely to bother. Thus, only works that communicate things more efficiently than the reader can will go viral.
3) Related to #2, and perhaps to the way people take in online content, articles that go viral tend to be short. If not short, the gist of them is easy to get by skimming.
4) The hub has to have universal appeal. Hubs that are inside jokes (for example, just for hubbers) or observations about a narrowly defined set of circumstances (like breastfeeding, or dealing with bereavement) will not be broadly shared. They might be emailed to one or two people or posted on highly relevant low-volume forums, but that's it.
5) The hub has to cause a strong emotion. Only a strong emotion - a bark of laughter, tears, a memory of something important, a reaffirmation of hope, outrage over a stupid idea, a new notion that changes everything, a feeling of Hallelujah! - can spur someone to think, "So-and-so just has to see this. Oh, and X might appreciate it, too...." Gentleness, reasonableness, quaintness, cuteness, dry wit, and subtlety, on the other hand, have a quiet impact - not a social one.
6) Timing is everything. The hub doesn't need to be evergreen, but it does need to be seen at a time when the reader is compelled and able to forward it. This does not have to be exclusively a matter of luck, though it largely is. You can time your self-promotion and publishing to increase the odds that people will be accessing your hubs at/away from work, during/after holidays, etc.
7) Luck. All the above can be true, but you still need luck to tip the odds.
What do you think of these? Do you have a different perspective? What else do you think comes into play?
What my Facebook friends share are cute photos of cats and dogs. I love both, but I get sick of so many of them. Use a cat or dog picture with a cute saying and it will get shared over and over again. I'm not going to use my own tip either.
Satisfying one tribe or another probably helps.
I sometimes belong to blimey, reckon and rubbish after I've had a couple.
Lots has been written on this subject. I'm usually amazed at what goes viral on HubPages.
I can say that in-depth hubs with great media tend to get more links and pins. I've anecdotally noticed people pinning more images that have quotes, recipes, sayings embedded in the photo lately...Others notice this?
No - I get very few pins or repins, sayings or not.
Bet WryLilt will agree with your observation, though.
That's funny that you say that and yet on my boards and people I follow I have very few photos with the quotes embedded in the photo. I think it can take away from what is pinned but I'm never right so what do I know. I have tried it myself and it doesn't seem to make any difference. I must be doing something wrong.
Which of these images would you rather pin or click? To make an image that's really going to be attention grabbing (and both pinned straight off your hub and repinned on Pinterest), you need to make it interesting and unique, as well as play with colours and styles to grab the eye. Give them a reason that yours is better too - a teaser is a great way to get people to click.
I do see what you mean. I have tried before and didn't seem to matter. I did two with the quotes on them today so lets see what happens. I don't know if I did my quotes right or if they look right. I also think that there are a lot of very young women using Pinterest and I think anything to do with wedding and babies will go "viral". Your hubs are great for that kind of thing.
Personally, I rarely pin any image that has words written over the image... above, below, and to the sides are fine, unless the image leads to something really interesting to me.
Things I've had go semi-viral* include:
The Debatable Topic
-- Highly topical, getting in at the start of a buzz that builds. (This is harder to do now that Hubpages holds hubs in unfeatured mode for a day or more).
-- Controversial, something people have strong opinions about and may be shocked about. People may jump in and argue and share.
-- Surprising. It's common nature to say, "Did you KNOW this?"
The current flap over the NSA is a typical example of a story going viral, although it's on a larger scale than anything I've had go viral.
The Really Useful or Entertaining (And Unique) Thing
-- Answers a question for which there just isn't a good answer on the web
-- And/or satisfies an itch.
-- Does it well enough that people say, "Hey, you gotta see this."
-- Is awesome. (See above.)
-- Again, topical helps. Although in these cases it's often a topic that recurs from time to time.
I've had three "Debatable" things go viral over the years** -- and many more that didn't. Of those, two get steady traffic but have fallen off their peak. I've had five in the informative/entertaining category, but again, they've mostly subsided to a steady elevated traffic level, with occasional traffic spikes when new pockets of people find them.
*My "viral" is still only a spike of several thousand visitors on one page in a week. I haven't hit the "millions" stage.
**One was a total accident. One of my articles drew the ire of a fan base, and they came galloping to my page to leave nasty comments. Except that it meant lots of traffic, which meant I benefitted from their outrage. Oops.
I've had several things go viral. So far my successes have been based on:
->Being the best and using MFPs.
I have an exhaustive wedding preparation checklist. I added a pretty boring MFP. It now has over 40,000 pins and keeps spiking now and again (doing it again today.)
I also have an exhaustive labour induction hub, also with an MFP. It sits at around 60,000 pins. It was about 12 items longer than the longest list at the time I published it.
->Jumping on a timely event or update.
Most bigger sites and news sites work at a glacial pace. So once an event happens or an update comes out, you have 24-48 hour window before the big sites release their own content.
I've had best results with Facebook updates - I have a group of Facebook friends who knows I know my stuff, so they usually tag me or ask me when they see a new update or glitch, or something going viral. I throw together an article in half an hour, throw up the link and my lovely friends reshare.
My two most successful this way were relating to the Facebook newsfeed (25,000 in one day) and one I wrote for a friend about a Facebook hoax (somewhere around 300,000 in 3 days).
After the initial traffic though, they pretty much die, so make sure you're going to get a LOT Of traffic, or stick with evergreen...
I also started a Facebook page when we had a flood in 2011 and it got 37,000 fans in 24 hours or less. So jumping in first, the second you see something new, can often make you go SO viral.
Someone guest posted on my blog about going viral and it has been read over 2000 times since being published. Not even my most popular poetry hub has been read that much. LOL. Viral and how it works is so interesting...
I've only had a couple hubs ever go viral and those hubs were made primarily for that reason as an experiment. They were also a couple of my very first hubs. One of them peaked at 16,000 views per day for over a month. However, they were on topics that are not consistent with the rest of my portfolio of writing. They contained words that young 'pervs' search out... Hot.. Bikini.. Sexiest.. etc.
The traffic was a good ego boost but did little for earnings... funny thing is, they are still getting tons of visits after almost 4 years.
HP ads should get some income from any kind of traffic these days, or are they disabled for those pages?
It's really hard to tell what can go viral as I've had images with text on Pinterest and nothing much happened. And, then I woke up one week before Mothers Day and I found that a hub I wrote about Childless Women got over 150 hits everyday for weeks, while my Mothers Day hub only got a few tens.
I think all the tips and writing more is a helpful solution. The more you write the more likely you will get some of your content to go viral. Thanks for the tips above though. They are great.
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