In a word, “No”. But I’m a good writer. I can be engaging, entertaining, informative, or professional, and I believe in producing strong content, so why shouldn’t my posts go viral? I’ve been reading a few viral posts, and although some of them are well-written or informative, many give me the same impression I formed when a client asked me to rewrite a viral blog post today.
“It’s junk content”
That’s right. The writing was sheer trash. A compote of words with a light dressing of utter BS, a piece of fluff so light that thistledown looks like a pair of lead boots by comparison. Professional jealousy? Not really, I’ve seen a lot of weak but popular content. So what makes a post go viral? See if you agree with these observations. You need:
- A powerful platform. You’ve got the reach. You’ve got the audience.
- A title and an opening paragraph that grabs attention.
- Eye candy. The text I looked at was entitled “Business Model”. It was wonderfully airy and the content was insubstantial and incredibly trite, but what it did have was gorgeous photos of a beautiful woman. Darn! Can’t compete with that!
It’s all about the advertising, not the content
For many sites, it’s about the click-throughs with images and, most important of all, advertising. The content is just writing to fill space. Even when the written content is good, I prefer to avoid content that requires click-throughs. I find it annoying, and I have a sneaking suspicion that many of the listicles I’ve written for clients were ultimately used in this format. But why the click-through style anyway? Could it be that advertising can be placed on ten pages instead of one?
Is viral content useful content?
Viral content has to be easy to read. That means that serious topics will be covered in a relatively superficial way. I’m all in favour of giving people an overview, but the “10 steps to ultimate business success” article could just as easily have been a book. As long as you know that, you may get some useful ideas for further reading and research.
Remember, there is a difference between “simple” and “easy”. It’s simple to read and understand a list of ten things successful businesses have in common, but actually doing what they did may not be easy.
I often think that despite the impulse that makes people click on topics that sound too good to be true, people are a lot smarter than is often believed. Whatever you do, don’t insult them with awful copy. Many of them are actually quite clever, and can read.