The 5 Most Important Qualities of Viral Content

03/16/2015 11:39 am ET | Updated May 16, 2015


Creating viral content is difficult, but the results are worth the extra effort.

Getting your content to go viral is incredibly beneficial. The first line of benefits are the most obvious: you'll get your brand in front of thousands of new eyes, rapidly expanding your potential customer base through only one significant piece of content. But you'll also earn hundreds of backlinks pointing back to your site, which increases your domain authority and makes your site rank higher in search engines, and you'll start to build a bigger reputation so your brand is recognized even in non-customers, putting you in a much better overall market position.

Unfortunately, creating this content is hard work, and even after copious time spent on a single piece, there's no guarantee it will go viral. If, however, you imbue your work with these five qualities, you'll stand a much higher chance of getting that level of attention:

1. Unique. First, you need to make sure your content is unique. If you post something your target audience has already seen dozens or hundreds of times, you'll only succeed in contributing to the white noise. You'll never stand out, and you'll never get shared unless your topic is original and new.

2. Surprising. People tend to share things that surprise them. Think of all the content titles you see in your Facebook news feed ending with the phrase "and you won't believe what happens next" or something similar. The surprise factor can be incorporated however you see fit -- a surprise ending, a surprising fact, etc. -- but it needs to be there.

3. Informative. Your piece needs to have information attached to it. Otherwise, it's not going to be remembered. There are countless funny YouTube videos with millions of views, but only the informative ones will really stick in the minds of their target audience.

4. Entertaining. Speaking of funny YouTube videos, they're popular for a reason. People need to be entertained. They don't want to read some endless string of facts and analysis -- they want concise, enjoyably presented material. Use a video or colorful graphics in combination with casual language to make your work more appealing.

5. Practical. Finally, your piece needs to have practical takeaways. Informative, surprising facts are nice, but do yours have any real world application? If you can create a piece that gives people valuable, practical real-life steps for improving some aspect of their lives, you'll have a winner on your hands.

Getting your content to go viral is tough, but if you can land even one successful viral piece, you'll greatly enjoy the benefits for months to come. Don't be afraid to invest the extra resources, and stay consistent with your efforts -- eventually, your work will pay off.

Jose Vasquez is a serial entrepreneur and tech enthusiast dedicated to helping startup technology companies get the direction and momentum they need to succeed. As the founder of Build. Brand. Blast., Jose has established a collective resource for tech entrepreneurs to consult when brainstorming, creating, launching, or expanding a new business. Jose is also the founder and CEO of Quez Media Marketing, a marketing firm that combines technology and creativity to help new and growing companies get the results they need.

Jose graduated from Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.

Follow Jose: