Why this blog post went viral

At the Content Marketing World Conference I attended in Sydney last month, Social Media expert Mark Schaefer said that if you want your content to move (ie. be seen, heard and shared widely), then you need to be more human.

Well, last week Mark’s theory proved true when a blog post I wrote on the LinkedIn publishing platform, Pulse, went viral.

Here’s the story and I want to share it with you as an example of how to write content that moves, so you can put this theory to the test as well.

Late one night, I wrote a heart-felt blog post about my frustrations with networking events. I was honest, flawed, and raw, and guess what?

This is What Happened After I Clicked “Publish”

Why this blog post went viral
The post (you can read it here) was shared no less than 270 times on social media (the screen shot above was taken two days ago). It was viewed by more than 2120 people at last count, attracted several comments and incited hot debate both on LinkedIn and on Facebook where the post also attracted increased engagement and comments.

Why This Blog Post Attracted High Engagement

I’ve been writing posts for a long time now, and some fare better than others in terms of engagement, but usually I spend hours carefully crafting each post. This one? 20 minutes!

Another speaker at Content Marketing World, Tim Washer, said that we should be brave as content writers, and go with our instincts rather than take our content to a committee. (Sometimes we can be a committee of one, thwarting our best attempts to write well, don’t you agree?)

While I didn’t deliberately set out to be controversial, I did take a deep breath when I hit publish, because I realised I had exposed something about myself and that was risky. I realised that people might judge harshly… and a couple of people did.

You know what though? Many, many more people wrote to me, both on and off social media, to say how much the post resonated with them.

So what made this blog post move?

  • It was human. I showed my take on an issue, warts and all. The reason I wrote the post was because of a genuine frustration with networking events. I don’t enjoy being accosted by people  at events, and it’s happened multiple times. People sell first and ask questions later. I wanted to show why it should be the other way around.
  • I told a story. People love and relate to stories. Use them often. When you tell a story you paint a picture for your readers.
  • I didn’t water it down. I ignored that little voice in my head that said: “You can’t publish that!” I simply said what a lot of other people were thinking.
  • I tapped into the power of my existing community to add fuel to the fire. I am lucky to have a loyal subscriber base, a loyal following on Facebook, Twitter, G+ and LinkedIn. When my people saw that I was given heat for my article, to my great surprise, they jumped in and commented as a show of support. For this I am entirely grateful. I love my community!

The Bottom Line in Creating Content That Moves

People are tired of reading boring posts. They want drama, action, stories and a good dose of humanity.

How can you create content that moves? Be brave, don’t shy away from controversy and be prepared to answer your critics…. they will come.

Oh, and by the way, if you want to read more about the Content Marketing World Conference, I have uploaded my report on the conference on Slideshare. Please follow the link and download with my compliments.

A good theory should be replicable. So let’s put this to a wider test. Have you noticed that some of your content gets shared more frequently? What about those posts/productions created more engagement. Use my list above to benchmark your posts and let me know what happens.

  • http://www.getinthehotspot.com/ Annabel, Get In The Hot Spot

    Hi Cas,

    Congrats on writing a great post. I love the controversial headline and I know headlines are super important for ensuring people read and share posts. Sometimes they’ll even share them without reading them if the headline sounds good :)

    Keep at it – you never know what people will love until you publish it :)

    • http://www.casmccullough.com/ Cas McCullough

      Thanks Annabel! I really appreciate your encouragement! It was so much fun watching and responding to the activity on that post, I’ll have to try it again :-)

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  • Gordon Diver

    Loved the original post Cas, and enjoyed this follow up. Well done.