How to Use Viral Content to Sell Products Online

11 min read

Did you know that 63% of shopping transactions begin online?

With the right product marketing, it’s possible to engage prospects at every stage of their buying journey, eventually converting them from content viewers into paying customers.

So, how do you achieve this conversion? One way is by creating viral content.

Whatever your niche, viral content helps to gain awareness and exposure for your products online. You just need to know how to create content that builds online buzz. And luckily for you, this post will cover precisely that.

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What Is Viral Content?

In a nutshell, viral content is any type of internet content (a post, video, Instagram story, etc) that achieves a high level of exposure and awareness on news websites, social media platforms, email newsletters, search engines, and aggregators.

A single piece of viral content can deliver hundreds of unique visitors to your site.

Bear in mind that viral content can be relatively cheap in comparison to other online marketing, especially paid ads and email marketing. This is because most of the traffic comes from social shares, resulting from the content’s high engagement.

While viral content is a relatively cheap option, it can be hard to pull off. You need to go beyond the typical content creation process to deliver something genuinely mind-blowing, informative, or hilarious. Which type of reaction you want to instill in your viewers depends on your approach and the target message!

Strategies to Go Viral with Your Content

So, what can you do to go viral? How can you create buzz around your product? Well, there are proven e-commerce marketing strategies that can help. How you implement them is what matters.

Here are five strategies to get you started:

Make content relevant to your audiences’ interests

Taking the time to get to know your audience helps determine what type of content to deliver to them. More importantly, it allows you to personalize your message and identify the channels that your audience uses most. You can easily get to know your audience by:

  • Reviewing your current data and analytics
  • Creating buyer personas (aka fictional characters that depict your target customers)
  • Conducting surveys
  • Researching your competitors
  • Reviewing audience comments and feedback
  • Understanding where your potential buyers are coming from

The bulleted points above are critical in learning more about your target audience. Additionally, you should review previous successful campaigns for more insights into your audience. The more information you gather about your target customers, the better.

For example, take Wistia. They created their own mini TV series called Brandwagon to appeal to their ideal target audience. Not only is this a unique creative project in its own right, but it’s also directly relevant to their audience’s interests.

Participate in viral trends

You might’ve noticed that brands often participate in challenges and discussion on trending topics on social media. While regular social media users mostly do that for entertainment purposes, brands see it as an opportunity to spotlight their products or remind customers about their brand values. So jump on the bandwagon!

Take the 10 Year Challenge as an example. Social media users posted their photos to show how they changed in ten years, but H&M used this trend to bring attention to their eco-conscious initiatives.

The success of content marketing hinges on your ability to leverage current trends. You should be able to make data-backed decisions to identify the most impactful ways of creating and distributing your content.

Online video is the fastest-growing content sphere thanks to social media platforms, such as TikTok. This platform is a home to hundreds of trends that are reproduced on other platforms as well. Take time to research current trends and challenges and adapt them to your brand.

For example, San Diego Zoo made a video with a popular audio and it got 1.2 million views:

@sandiegozoo

Ever feel like you are being watched? 🦒  👁 👄 👁

♬ original sound — ollie

Also: How to Make Money on TikTok: Guide for Business Owners

You should also consider paid distribution to make more impact with your content. For example, more than 50 million businesses are competing for attention in the news feed. Using paid advertising, which over 3 million businesses use, improves exposure for your content in such a situation.

Go for strong emotions

According to the Harvard Business Review, evoking intense emotions in your viewer can help your content go viral. Sentiment is an essential driver of viral content, particularly when the content evokes positive feelings, such as delight, joy, amusement, affection, hope, happiness, enthusiasm, etc.

Naturally, people are drawn to sentimentality. As such, your audience is more likely to pay attention to content that impacts them emotionally. Plus, they often quickly share this type of content with their friends and followers. Be sure to deliver a positive emotional experience when creating your content.

Take a stand on a controversial topic

Most brands take an impartial approach when it comes to controversial topics. However, when approached decisively, a contentious issue can give your content the virality you want. Of course, you shouldn’t make impulsive decisions on these types of complicated topics.

Nowadays, brands are increasingly taking a stand on controversial issues, thanks to social media’s influence and base of highly engaged consumers. A good example is Nike, which responded to George Floyd’s murder in May 2020 with its “For Once, Just Don’t Do It” campaign. The brand’s goal was to urge consumers and companies to unite against racism.

In today’s political climate, a brand needs to be clear about its target audience before taking a stand on a controversial issue. Regardless of your stance, your content should educate, inspire, entertain, and seek to inform your audience.

Get creative with comments on social media

Social media platforms and review sites offer two-way communication opportunities, making it easier to engage with customers whenever they are. Responding to customers gives you a chance to:

  • Build trust
  • Convert detractors into promoters
  • Provide feedback
  • Solve issues
  • Learn from your customers

Engaging with customers can also improve your social media shares for more exposure if you write comments that are humorous or creative.

For example, Wendy’s is known not only as a fast-food restaurant but also as a viral Twitter account. It became popular for their quick-witted roasts and rivalries with other brands.

How to Amplify Your Content Virality

You’ve struggled, persevered and finally created viral content worthy of sharing, commenting, and driving customers to your website. Now what?

Use the right timing for posting

Timing is everything in content marketing — you want to get your message out at the right time to the right audience. For example, for posting on social media, you need to know when a platform has the most active users. Generally, people are most active across these platforms between 10 am and 3 pm. Knowing this will help with scheduling videos or posts on social media.


Best times to post on Facebook for consumer goods according to Sproutsocial

For most e-commerce content creators, holiday-related posts are responsible for the bulk of their revenue in any year. Rather than planning monthly content production, it’s a good idea to plan for annual content campaigns. Some months are always slower in e-commerce than others, but it also depends on what you’re selling.

For example, your content calendar can factor in holidays for each month to take advantage of demand on social platforms and other channels. Strive to publish your content as early as possible — while ensuring that it’s relevant and evergreen.

Promote customer sharing

Customer sharing is one of the most vital drivers of viral content. Ideally, the more your content is shared, the better. However, users need a reason to share your content, so you have to give them one. When creating your content, be sure to promote customer sharing by:

  • Adding social share buttons on pages
  • Using strong call-to-actions
  • Appealing to their emotions and beliefs
  • Incentivizing your product pages

Amazon does this by adding social share buttons to every product page. Netflix makes it easy for users to share their favorite titles on social media and Whatsapp— from right within the app. Keep in mind that about 74% of consumers share video content from their favorite brands on social media. As such, make your content relevant and shareable to up your chances of scoring a share.

Incentivize your product pages

It takes a lot of effort to get visitors to your website with viral content, and you don’t want them to leave without taking any action. It’s time to incentivize!

Using incentives is a proven approach to boosting conversions if you want to sell products online. More importantly, customers will likely share these types of opportunities with their friends and followers.

Examples of great incentives for product pages include free shipping, a gift, money-back guarantee, bulk discounts, expedited shipping, etc. You can even offer a loyalty program to improve customer retention. For example, Designer Shoe Warehouse (DSW) has a VIP loyalty program that provides reward tiers—which customers unlock with each purchase point.

Go Viral with Quality Content

Whether you’re creating social media posts, YouTube videos, or blog posts, your content must be informative, engaging and emotive if you’re looking to go viral. Of course, it’s not as easy as just creating and publishing quality content — there’s a lot that goes into making content successful.

It’s important to produce well-researched content that arouses emotions, targets your specific audience, develops relationships, and enlightens readers. Every element of the content matters, so ensure you have a catchy title, engaging visuals, and an exciting storyline.

Stories with a plot and characters are likely to appeal to your audience — people want to read something genuinely engaging. In addition to the strategies highlighted above, you can also work with influencers and get media coverage to widen your content coverage.

Now over to you! Do you have a viral content creation strategy that’s found success? Please tell us all about it in the comments below.

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About the author

Zoe Devitto is a content marketing strategist for SaaS brands like FollowUpBoss, Mention.com and more. On the personal front, Zoe is a pho enthusiast and loves traveling around the world as a digital nomad. Connect with Zoe on twitter.

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