Can social data make your content viral?

Everyone knows that there’s no way surefire way to create content that spreads like wildfire without spending a single cent on promotion. Or is there?

Everyone knows that there’s no way surefire way to create content that spreads like wildfire without spending a single cent on promotion. Or is there?

Want to see how your content or digital strategist reacts to stress? Just ask “Can you make this go viral?

Everyone knows that there’s no way to create content that spreads like wildfire without spending a single cent on promotion.

Or is there?

Social media intelligence may not guarantee your content goes viral, but it can certainly boost your chances.

If you track data in real time, you’ll better understand what triggers emotions, catches attention, and makes your audience want to share something. With that knowledge, you can tune your content – both short-term pieces and long-term strategy – to that behaviour.

Once more for the people at the back: there is no failsafe way to ensure your content goes viral. And social media intelligence alone won’t improve the performance of your videos, blogs, or media coverage. Mixing it into your content strategy, however, can steadily improve results in the short, medium, and long term for your brand. Here’s how:

Reactive Posting

The most obvious use of social media intelligence is “trend-jacking”: hijacking trending topics with your brand’s content. Oreo’s “Dunk in the Dark” tweet during the Super Bowl is probably the best-known example of this.

When done well, the brand rides the momentum of interest in a topic to gain huge amounts of engagement in a short time. When done badly, however, it just makes businesses look opportunistic and out-of-touch; not a good look.

If you want to post more reactively, make sure you’re tracking conversations and trends in real-time. Swift approvals processes are crucial: without them, you risk missing the wave of interest by the time your content is signed off.

Most importantly, you need a dedicated team who can quickly create striking content marrying your brand’s values to whatever might be trending. Agencies with in-house copywriters and designers are great for this, but test their speed before you sign on.

Responsive Pitching

Sometimes, a snappy tweet or GIF won’t suffice.

Social media intelligence also reveals deeper trends, particularly around bigger issues like industry developments or public policy. Understanding the tide in your brand’s industry can help you pitch stories with greater relevance; whether that’s to the media or onto your own content platform.

Sometimes social media intelligence will even help you identify niches or hidden angles that experienced editors, both in-house and in the media – may have missed. It will also give you the data to back up the value of your pitch.

For this to work, employ tools that can develop a history of social chatter around specific topics; ideally visualising the data or insights for easy understanding.

More importantly, you’ll need to know that your PR and content teams will use these insights in their editorial process. Both these teams should incorporate social media intelligence into regular pitch meetings; as well as learn to align their tactics with the tide of conversations.

Work with agencies which don’t separate their PR and content teams, and who use strategists or analysts to advise you on the best narratives to use.

Rigorous Planning

Collect social media intelligence for long enough, and you’ll discover patterns in what excites your audiences.

By combining these insights with your data, whether from owned content platforms or social media, you can shift your entire  strategy from being what your brand wants, to what audiences are most likely looking for.

This goes beyond just subject matter. It can include changing the content you invest in – from infographics to videos, for example – or even your mix of channels. If your most viral content happens on Instagram, you’re probably going to focus more on that than Twitter.

No social media intelligence platform, no matter how sophisticated, can do this alone. It requires content strategists who truly understand social media data. Experts like these usually aren’t available in-house, so you’ll need to ensure that any agency talents have a strong track record, even when it might not directly suit their own interests.

Once you’re using social media intelligence, your pitches will become more responsive, and your posts more effectively reactive.

That trifecta will make your content more relevant and engaging every single time – and, in doing so, raise the chances that some of it will “infect” your audiences with the next viral trend.

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