Going viral is the holy grail of social media.
Even the best creators usually have no clue how they did what they did. And honestly, neither did I.
So, I took it upon myself to binge over 300 viral posts and study exactly how they got so big. I wanted to find a framework I could use to go viral more predictably.
Months later, I gained 24 000 saves and 4200 new followers from a single post.
Here’s what I learned about going viral.
What should you know first?
If you’re unfamiliar with my journey, here are a few interesting data points to give you context:
- I started my personal brand two years ago and gained over 20k followers in 45 days.
- Back then, I thought I knew exactly what I was doing right. In hindsight, I was just getting lucky.
- For almost 2 years, my account stalled at 20k. I tried changing and reverting strategy, telling stories, and providing value. I was copying what was working for others but made no progress.
- After trying to restart my growth for months, I discovered a framework that all growing accounts were following, aware of it or not.
Weirdly, they were doing the opposite of what made sense to me.
But it was working.
My numbers started going up for the first time in years. In just a few months, this led to my most viral post ever.
Craziest part? It took less than 1 hour to complete.
It worked even though I hadn’t been posting regularly. 2 posts prior, I was getting no reach and engagement.
Let me tell you how I did it.
Here’s my 3-Step Framework For Viral Content, Even When Your Account Is Dead:
- Provide less value
- Don’t make others work
- Be a homie
I know you think I’m crazy, but it will make sense once I explain.
Let’s dig in:
Step 1: Provide less value
Content creators generally want to give as much value to their readers as possible. It comes from a good place, but it can be a serious detriment to their success.
Why? “Heavy” content is hard to consume. And every ounce of extra effort required to follow your post will cost you dearly.
So if the goal is not to make valuable posts, what is it?
It is to make content that people consume until the end. Nothing kills your reach more than a high bounce rate.
Here’s how I approach creating high-retention posts:
- I choose a topic and brainstorm what I want to say about it.
- From the brainstorming notes, I decide on a single point I want to make with this post. If I talk about just one clear idea per post, my message stays coherent and easy to follow. I then remove all information that isn’t absolutely necessary to get the main point across. It’s because I know that I will lose the reader if I mention anything irrelevant. I will note down all additional worthwhile ideas and make separate posts about them.
- I fill in a framework for my post, such as “Statement > agitation > example 1 > example 2 > example 3 > summary.” I then make sure I haven’t said anything irrelevant to blur the reader’s focus from the main point.
Simple, but highly effective.
Step 2: Don’t make others work
Accounts that successfully maintain high engagement don’t give people work. Work means two things here. First, it’s the effort required to read their content. And second, work is figuring out how to apply the takeaways of your content.
Here’s how you don’t force your readers to work.
- Ensure your content is so easy to read that people can finish it in any situation. They might open their Instagram in the bathroom during a meeting or at a bus stop when it’s cold outside. Anyhow, they should finish your post before they even realize it. If they think: ‘This seems interesting, I will read it when I have time,’ you’ve messed up. You can achieve this with storytelling and loops, which I will cover in more depth in the future. Here’s how you can get started: all slides in your catalog post should take equal time to read. This creates a flow. If a reader must stop and re-read a slide any point, you’ve lost.
- Tell readers exactly what they must do to achieve the success you preach. Don’t inspire them without saying what to do with these ideas. Don’t say they need a strategy. Don’t even teach them how to create a strategy. Give them the strategy.
You get it – the less room you leave for readers to think, the better.
Step 3: Be a homie
The last priority is not sounding like an expert or an academic.
Don’t get me wrong. You should still share novel insights and speak confidently. However, I want you to choose a simpler word or phrase alternative every time. The goal here is to speak to your audience like a friend – using the same words that a friend would use.
Yes, metaphors and parallels are a great way of differentiating your content. But I neglect overly poetic and clever ones in favor of familiarity.
No one wants to feel silly if they don’t recognize a word or an idiom.
Be a smart friend whom everyone respects, but not a smart-ass. If you do that, you can go viral with posts that are not ground-breaking, original or require a lot of effort to make.
Combine this with the other ideas outlined in this email, and you have something powerful.
Give the above and try, and you may become the next big thing on Instagram.
Your friend Vahur
Whenever you’re ready, there are 2 ways I can help you:
- For Estonians: If you are an entrepreneur, freelancer or marketer and tired of poor results from social media, consider joining my Content Marketing Masterclass.
- If you’d like me to coach or consult you in private, I offer a 1-on-1 coaching program and a 1-hour consultation call. Learn more about my services here.