Have you ever wondered what it takes to go viral on social media? I know I have… until mid-2017 when I figured out the magic formula for creating viral social media posts.

Now, what makes a Facebook post go viral? How does a seemingly random social media post garner hundreds or thousands of likes, while well-thought-out posts barely get a few comments?

So what’s the secret sauce that makes social media posts go viral?

The answer is very simple. It’s so simple it’s almost disappointing.

In this article, I’m going to reveal three secrets on how to go viral on social media.

Three Secrets to Going Viral on Social Media:

Here are some keys to getting maximum impact and visibility with your target social media audience.

  1. Engage your audience with a thought-provoking question or call-to-action.
  2. Boost your post’s visibility with advertising.
  3. Time it right.

I’ll go over each in a little more detail and include a couple of screenshot examples.

Write a Thought-Provoking Question or Call-to-Action

This is probably the most important tip for going viral on social media.

Your post has to be brief and yet provoke a reaction out of your readers.

People with short attention spans don’t like to read too much, especially on social media. They just scroll from one post to another with their smartphones, scanning a few words here and there, mindlessly liking cute pet photos and funny memes.

I’ll give an example. But first, here’s a little context behind my example.

In the early 2000s, before blackberries and iPhones came along, deaf people used T-mobile Sidekicks to text each other. Sidekicks were hugely popular, as almost every deaf individual had one.

viral social media posts

Fast forward to today.

iPhones and androids have had the market cornered for at least a decade. Sidekicks are now ancient relics.

One of my clients is creating a streaming video service for deaf and hard-of-hearing people, and he asked me for help in reaching his target audience on Facebook. I gave my client a list of ideas for some Facebook posts, and he posted the one about remembering when deaf people used Sidekicks:

“Who remembers their first Sidekick?! Tag a friend if they had one too!”

This simple post contains both a thought-provoking question and a call-to-action. It takes the reader on a trip down a memory lane, elicits nostalgia for the “old days”, and calls on them to tag one of their friends if they also used a Sidekick.

This post was so effective that it resulted in almost 1,400 shares!

Use Advertising to Boost Visibility

Sometimes a social media post needs a little kick in the ass to draw more attention.

Facebook has a simple feature where you can “boost” a post using paid advertising, which gets more visibility than organic traffic alone.

how to go viral on social media

Your boosted post will have a progress bar that displays a count of organic versus paid reach. The screenshot above shows that this post’s traffic consisted of almost entirely paid traffic as it was boosted early. A mere $10 helped the post reach 32,000 people compared with just over 600 people that were reached organically.

Sometimes a boosted post can gain additional organic traffic if paid visitors share it, like it, comment on it, or otherwise engage with it. Their friends will see this engagement and visit that post to see what it’s all about, and the cycle repeats. Boosting a post, provided it is thought-provoking and engaging, is like starting a domino effect.

The boost feature is especially useful if you want more visits to your web page or blog article. For example, the post below linked to my client’s blog article and the boost helped bring more traffic to the blog article.

going viral on social media

Timing Is Everything

Social media feeds are constantly updating with new posts by the minute. When people aren’t checking Facebook or Twitter every few minutes, they will miss dozens of Facebook posts going through their feed

To ensure your content gets the most visibility possible, you should time its release for maximum engagement. Ideal timing depends on the habits, preferences, and time zones of your target audience.

Most people check their Facebook in the mornings before breakfast, during lunch breaks, in the afternoons before dinner, and at night before bed. Posting at these times or just a little before is best for maximum exposure and visibility.

Most social media platforms use algorithms to rank content based on the probability of user engagement. Timeliness plays a key role, so releasing content at just the right time can boost its performance.

BONUS TIP: Use Social Media Analytics to Create More Successful Campaigns

We must use social media analytics to measure performance and to understand what works and does not work. It may take several tries to create a viral marketing campaign. Whether you need to make minor adjustments or change your entire strategy, social media metrics can help guide you.

What’s more important than which social media platform to use is the actual content you are putting out. Learn how to build content-centric campaigns and why these are more successful than channel-centric campaigns.

Learning what types of content perform the best helps you plan and improve your next social media campaign.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

Using these Facebook posts displayed above, I helped my client bring in a dramatic increase of 2,800% in social media engagement in just one month. Page views jumped by 143% as well. Both page likes and page follows also leaped by at least 240%.

social media campaign

My client was shocked — pleasantly so. More importantly, this helped us plan the next social media campaign in 2018 by learning which content topics perform better than others.

Plan Your Campaign With Viral Social Media Posts

Crafting social media posts that provoke a reaction out of your readers is said than done. You would need to cut through the noise and capture attention from scatter-brained social media users.

A professional copywriter can help you craft high-impact social media posts and plan your campaign for maximum reach.

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