It happens when you least expect it: That post you wrote a few weeks ago, the one on a hot button issue? It’s going viral.
It’s the dream of most digital marketers to have their content go viral. The momentum you can gain from having hundreds of thousands — even millions – of people seeing your posts or videos can launch your business to the next level, if you are prepared for it.
So how do you prepare? By answering a few key questions.
How Does Your Site Look?
If your posts go viral, there is the potential for millions of people to visit your site. What will they see when they get there? Does your site load slowly? Are the links in the sidebar out of date? Is it easy to find more content like the one that brought them there in the first place?
Viral content often doesn’t have a measurable effect on a business because the website doesn’t make the right impression on the visitors. If the site is disorganized, out-of-date, and poorly designed, users are going to click away as quickly as they came. Much like you don’t want visitors coming to your home when you haven’t had a chance to tidy up, you don’t want droves of users coming to your site when it still looks like something from the year 2000.
Keep your site up to date, and refresh it from time to time. You don’t need to do a complete overhaul every few months, but staying on top of your site’s appearance is important. Perform regular content audits to identify old or out-of-date content to be removed or refreshed. Make it easy for visitors to act — remember, your content should have a call to action, and your site must make it possible for them to follow through.
Can Your Site Handle the Traffic?
Viral content draws a ton of traffic. This is great news, unless your site host doesn’t have the bandwidth to allow all of that traffic through. There’s nothing worse than having 2 million people wanting to see your post, but 1.5 million of them can’t access your site because your host can’t handle the traffic. When choosing a hosting provider, pay close attention to the bandwidth options. A low bandwidth package might be affordable, but it could hurt you. Ask questions about how the host can handle spikes in traffic, and choose an option that offers the most bandwidth for your budget.
Is Your Site Secure?
Viral content attracts millions of users — and not all of them are here for your brilliant thoughts and ideas. Viral content tends to attract hackers and other cybercriminals who are hoping to capitalize on your success. You need to be prepared to handle some of the security risks that come with viral content. This means using spam filters in the comment section and monitoring the posts in comments and on social media to manage spam or abusive posts.
Hackers are also going to try to exploit vulnerabilities in your site to inject malware that will spread to anyone who visits your site. And when someone’s computer is compromised after visiting your site, what are the chances they will return? You need to make sure that your site is protected by advanced security measures (your hosting provider should have some security in place as well.) Make sure that an antivirus program protects your site and that you install all security updates to protect your audience.
Are You Ready to Maximize Your Success?
Your site is secure and looks great. Now you need a plan for action after the content gets attention. At minimum, you need to:
- Capture your audience. Make it easy for new site visitors to get more of your great content. Your social media buttons should be easy to find, and collect email addresses with a sign up form on your site. Entice visitors to sign up with a discount, additional resources, or another offer.
- Be prepared to analyze. Why did this piece get attention? Where did the traffic come from? By looking at everything from the title to the comments, you can glean information to use for future content creation efforts and increase the likelihood of more viral content.
- Build relationships. Did influencers share your content? Can you use it for more PR? Can you expand your community? Be prepared to leverage your success into better brand relationships.
There is never a guarantee that your content will go viral. In fact, the majority of content doesn’t. If you focus on developing quality content and giving your audience what it wants, though, the chances of it happening increase — you just need to be prepared when it does.