5 Reasons Why Viral Content is the New King


For the last few years bloggers have been endlessly hearing the refrain: “Content is king”. While content is incredibly important, another old saying holds true.

Not all content is born equal.


Have you ever seen one post talked about across a number of blogs you subscribe to? Has social media ever led you again and again to the same place?

If so, chances are you were witnessing viral content in action.

In this post, I want to introduce the concept of viral content and outline five reasons it’s worth your attention.

What is ‘viral’ content?

Seth Godin coined the term ‘viral’ as it applies to ideas. His definition can easily be adapted to blog content. Viral content is:

  • Easy to understand
  • Worth sharing and talking about
  • Simple to spread and share
  • Rewarding to share

Viral content is remarkable: it might be a huge list of resources, a compilation of inspirational quotes, a new way of thinking about things, an eloquent argument for a point of view, and so on.

Regardless of the form it takes, it causes the following internal reaction in the reader: “I’ve got to tell someone about this!”

The good news for bloggers is that viral content does not require a strike of brilliance to create. One you begin to appreciate the common characteristics of viral content, you can begin to emulate it — with a bit of work.

Why viral content is the new King

1. Social media loves viral content. Viral posts are made to be shared, and what better way to share than through social media? As your post is passed along social media networks you can expect it to be championed by various users, creating a snowball effect for the content in question. This kind of social media success has the potential to bring hundreds of new visitors and subscribers to your blog.

2. Viral content generates inbound links. As viral content is both shared and talked about this will commonly occur through links into your blog. This will boost your Technorati ranking, bring new, targeted visitors, and possibly contribute to an SEO boost if the anchor text is good.

3. It can bring streams of traffic over long periods. The best forms of viral content are timeless, and the snowball effect of such posts can roll on for long periods of time. The strongest viral post I’ve written is 50 Tips to Unclutter Your Blog: it never reached the front page of Digg or achieved booming social media sucess, but has still managed to receive 37 trackbacks and 91 comments, and continues to generate new comments and trackbacks to this day.

Content spread via word of mouth can contribute to your blog’s growth over a long period of time, whereas social media success alone tends to explode, then fizzle away to nothing.

4. It creates buzz around your blog. Viral content is great for spreading your brand throughout your niche. Your name and viral articles will seem to be turning up everywhere: in link round-ups, in social media, and so on. That kind of visibility will ensure your chosen niche begins to recognize your name.

5. It encourages comments. Viral content is meant to be talked about and much of that talk will occur in comments. In my experience, posts I’ve written that have become viral have also resulted in a high comment count. This is great for the social proof of your blog.

Where to next?

Give some thought to the idea of viral content. Have you seen any content lately that qualifies as viral? What is everyone talking about in your niche at the moment?

If you can, write down some of the reasons why you think that post was so widely shared and talked about. Chances are each one of those characteristics can be applied to your own content in order to create your own viral post.

The next time I write about viral content here — which will be soon — I want to suggest a number of strategies you can use to create your own viral content, and in doing so, launch your blog’s growth into the stratosphere. Stay tuned!

Update: You can read the second part of this article, titled “The 7 Secrets of Viral Content“.

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35 Responses to “5 Reasons Why Viral Content is the New King”

  • Tony

    I have to agree, viral content is the new king.
    I added a page to our site as a bit of joke for friends, which found its way onto a humor website with PR8 – traffic on our site exploded (60 times its normal traffic) and as it’s dying down we’re seeing Direct Enteries and connections from Facebook, Twitter and forums on the rise.

  • hervy

    Great post, I am going to give this a shot if I can ever find time to get my wensite the way I want it in order to blow it up. If someone would write an article about how to create 5 more hours in a day it would definitely go viral.

  • Rishabh

    Nice article.. I did not know that i am also propagating this kind of Viral Links.. To others..The only problem is.. it takes time to write like this..

  • Hugo Peppers

    Great post. Lots of good stuff, but where is the part where you market your Viral content.

    I never ascribed to the idea that content was king, or now that viral content is King. I would say they’re one in the same.

    Nothing goes viral without it being pushed in the right direction. Be it because you have a following and they push it for you, or you get out there and do it yourself.

    Now there’s a post that would go viral. How to get your viral content to go ‘viral’

  • huckle

    Methinks your article is a pretty good example of viral content….

    Duly stumbled =]

  • Jayanth G Paraki

    Viral content is King….interesting and worthwhile to ponder over…! The observation as to where in the world is the virus linking …in your PC….in your heart (causing fatal viral myocarditis)…in your blood (HIV and AIDS)…..or in your brain….(causing viral encephalitis)…..

    The whole point is stop under-estimating these tiny particles of great energy. RNA and DNA viruses are far more potent than what affects PC’s. And they are living…while computer hackers are alive creating deadly viruses to hack networks….

    The solution …..a quadrillion dollar question..?

  • Skellie

    @ MyHive: There’s no reason why viral content couldn’t be both unique and creative. In fact, I’d suggest content with either (or both) those qualities has a better chance of going viral than content without them.

    You don’t have to sacrifice your blogging integrity in order to go viral. Viral content is simply a post that resonates with a lot of people and makes them want to share it. There’s nothing shameful in that.

  • Daniel

    MyHyve, I think we could say so.

    Just like a company’s goal is to make customers want to talk about its products to other customers, the goal of a website or publishing platform should be to make readers want to talk about its content to other readers.

  • MyHive

    Content is King if it is unique, if many readers find that content useful or interesting in some way and they link back to that content. When those readers start to write about same thing (to share) on their blogs, this content becomes “viral”. Correct?

    If it become hard to create unique content these days, we should praise viral content since this brings traffic. Nevermind creative writing, let’s all go “viral”. Is this THE message behind this post?

  • soni2006

    Yes I agree that Viral content is the king of internet nowadays

    it might be a huge list of resources, a compilation of inspirational quotes, a new way of thinking about things, an eloquent argument for a point of view, and so on but how I can create such a content on my blog for getting better pagerank. please explain.

  • Technobuzz.net

    Nice article

  • Daniel

    Sergio, we’ll have a bigger article next week on the same topic.

  • Sergio

    thanks for the tips, already i make my own viral content, but this article gives me more tips, thanks!

  • Daniel

    Armen, true sometimes you need a little “push” before the content goes viral, regardless of how good it might be.

  • Jeremy Steele

    Does getting an article on the front page of one of those foreign Digg ripoffs count as being viral? Heh.

    But seriously, I’m getting a bit better at this viral stuff. I’ve actually got a lovely post lined up for tomorrow – just think Blogs and Cakes – everybody loves blogs and cakes 😉

  • Dexter

    Nice article.. I did not know that i am also propagating this kind of Viral Links.. To others..The only problem is.. it takes time to write like this..

  • Armen

    You know Skellie, I know this should be true. In fact, in many ways it is true. I’ve witnessed blogs putting together a good post, and it shoots off everywhere, front page of Digg, etc.

    However, I’ve never experienced it myself. On a blog I used to run, I wrote several posts which I thought should have ‘taken off’ and they never, except one got a couple of thousand hits from SU.

    I’ve just put together a really useful post of links to excellent resources of web design, and all I can do is hope the right person comes along and Diggs it, or links to it. Otherwise, it’ll disappear into my archives like other posts.

    What you’ve said is true, but generally you already need to have gained a loyal following before it gets the attention it maybe deserves.

    Good post though.

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