Creating a content strategy is one of the most challenging parts of growing a niche site.
This is especially true for new sites.
Usually, the initial plan will involve digging through your keyword tool for good opportunities, and then creating articles optimized around those keyword.
But what if we can create a new category of content on our site at the same time? Instead of just extensive articles built to rank in search engines, what if we can pinpoint the exact type of content that are proven to be most popular in our niche?
In this tutorial, I’m going to show you exactly how to research, create, and promote this kind of viral content using a strategic plan.
Follow these steps and you can add a new strategy to your arsenal and really boost your site’s traffic.
The tool for the job
The perfect tool to accomplish this is BuzzSumo, a sophisticated tool that shows you the most popular pieces of content in any industry or domain.
It’s great for finding what type of content performs best in your niche, and I’m going to show you a few real examples of how I use BuzzSumo for generating content ideas that go viral.
Viral content strategy using BuzzSumo
The type of content that does well on social is different depending on your industry.
For myself, I’ve found that in most niches content that I build for SEO and organic search traffic is often different from the content that I build for traction on social media.
As a result, links aren’t my focus when using this tool.
We’re hoping to pick up some links, yeah, but I like to consider content ideas generated from BuzzSumo as secondary content.
They don’t fit into my primary content strategy aimed at long-term search traffic.
Instead, they’re mainly created with the hope of going viral on social media, getting a ton of traffic, and building traction.
Instead of long-form keyword-rich articles, I’m looking for things like short posts, videos, gifs, images, photos, quizzes, infographics, etc – things that can be created relatively quickly.
Yes, long-form content has been proven to do well with social but what we’re trying to do here is diversify our content strategy and build out these pieces relatively quickly.
For instance, one of the most popular pieces of content I’ve ever created was a short interactive quiz for one of my niche sites.
Using BuzzSumo, I noticed a lot of shares on a BuzzFeed quiz targeted at a similar topic to mine.
So I decided to create one myself!
The end result was over 10,000 Facebook shares and just under 500 Twitter shares – not as good as BuzzFeed’s but still something to get excited about.
The coolest part? It only took about 30 minutes to create the entire thing, and about $100 to get the viral ball rolling using Facebook ads. If you’re interested in creating quizzes, you can use a WP plugin like Viral Quiz Builder like I did, or build one on PlayBuzz.com and then embed it on your site.
If you’re interested in learning the step-by-step for this kind of content strategy, I’ll take you through the exact process I used.
Let’s dive into the tutorial with an example.
Step 1: Input your keyword
I’m going to start by entering in my keyword/topic into BuzzSumo.
That’s going to show me a list of the most popular pieces of content with the most shares.
Let’s pretend that we have a design blog and our targeted topic is logo creation.
I’ll start by entering in something like “create logo”.
Step 2: Identify a good candidate
I’m going to scroll through the list and find sites that are:
- Closely related to my topic.
- Has a high number of twitter shares.
You don’t have to go with only the ones with high Twitter shares, but I prefer starting out with these since…
BuzzSumo will only show you specific Twitter sharers.
So if you see a piece of content with 100k Facebook shares, but zero Twitter shares, you won’t be able to get any data about WHO shared that piece of content.
Meaning… you won’t know who to reach out to, which comes in step 5.
So let’s look for a good result from the list.
That one looks good.
It’s closely related to our topic of logo creation, has over 11k shares in total, and potentially 853 prospects we can reach out to on Twitter.
Step 3: Analyze the content
Next, I’m going to analyze the piece of content, specifically to determine what we can create of our own for similar results.
The first thing that grabs my attention is the TYPE of content this is: It’s a gif.
It’s a gif about the evolution of the logos of all NBA teams.
Here it is if you want to take a look:
My first thought is that it wouldn’t be too difficult to create something similar for another sport like NFL, NHL, or EPL.
And it wouldn’t take very long!
The good thing is that we know that this type of content has done well in the past and ours would be very similar.
Another thing that’s good about this piece of content is that it’s done very well on Reddit, which is where the original gif got posted.
3297 upvotes and 939 comments!
Doing well on Reddit can really amplify our content without requiring any work on our end. All we need to do is submit it.
The average post I submit to Reddit gets about 200-300 visitors that day. That’s even when they’re unpopular and don’t get many upvotes.
With thousands of upvotes on Reddit, a popular posting like this can send thousands of visitors your way over the period of a few days.
It can attract a lot of shares and links naturally without having to reach out to everyone who’s shared the NBA gif.
Step 4: Create the content
You may have noticed that we did things backwards here.
A lot of people create content first, and then start digging through BuzzSumo for prospects to promote it to.
While there’s nothing wrong with that, by using BuzzSumo to create content AFTER determining the specific type of content that will perform best for our campaign, we can get a much higher success rate with our outreach.
Since the entire goal of everything we’re doing here is to get shares and build traction, this is so much more effective.
For this particular piece of content, I could create it myself or just post a job on a freelance site like Upwork and it should be completed for me in a few days.
Step 5: Finally time for some outreach
Once I’ve created the piece of content, it’s time to promote it.
And BuzzSumo shows you the perfect prospects to reach out to. Just click on “view sharers.”
And it will show you a list like this:
It’s the full list of people who’ve shared it on Twitter along with the website attached to their ID, follower count, and even their retweet and reply ratio.
You can reach out to them directly from within BuzzSumo by connecting BuzzSumo with your Twitter account.
Or, you can export the entire list of prospects and use a tool like BuzzStream to speed up the process and track your results.
Step 6: Promote on other social networks
I’ll submit the post to Reddit as planned and then look for other opportunities.
Just because BuzzSumo only shows the specific sharers on Twitter, doesn’t mean we should ignore the other social networks.
The next step is to analyze where else it’s done well.
For this particular post, Facebook is the clear winner.
It’s gotten over 10,000 shares on Facebook, so it’s a safe assumption to say that our own content should do well on the platform.
What I’ll often do is just post it on my Facebook page and boost it with some ads.
Even a small budget of $50 total is usually enough to get the ball rolling.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to make content go viral on Facebook, definitely check out Niche Tycoon.
This also looks like a post that would do well on StumbleUpon. Submitting a post to StumbleUpon only takes a few minutes and can result in some pretty significant traffic if it does well.
Let’s keep going!
So you just finished promoting your last piece of content, and it’s done extremely well.
The good news is that it’s far from over. You can easily replicate your success by repeating the process.
Let’s do one more.
Here’s the #1 result from the results list on BuzzSumo.
The #6 result in the list is the exact same video, just posted on a different site!
It’s simply a video of a professional graphic designer going through the logo creation process.
Here’s the video if you’re interested. It’s really cool!
Watching the video, there’s one thing we can assume: People are interested in watching talented designers create logos. They’re interested in their “process” much like golfers are interested in watching Tiger Woods’ practice routine at the driving range.
They’re curious about what they do differently, and what they can copy into their own “processes.”
There are a few instant ideas for content that we can create and promote:
- We can create our own video of a real-life logo design process from start to end.
- We can create our own video of the difference between a professional design process and an amateur one.
- We can create a curation post with the best “process” logo design videos from actual professionals.
- We can create a blog post featuring this video and how watching it made you want to quit because you’ll never be as good.
There are a lot of different ideas that can be thrown out.
By using this strategy, we’re not going at this blindly. We KNOW that this type of content did well and all we need to do is try and replicate it with similar content of our own.
It’s a different type of niche and keyword research. Instead of search volumes and competition analysis, we’re analyzing content type and popularity.
Not only that, but we have instant access to the EXACT people who shared the previous content we’re replicating.
There are a lot of different approaches you can take with your niche sites.
You can focus solely on keyword research, creating evergreen content, and link building for rankings and search traffic.
Or you can mix viral content into your strategy and experience massive traffic spikes relatively quickly, which could even propel your traffic to a new level even after the dust settles.
My preferred strategy is a mix of content targeted towards SEO and viral social traffic. And using this step-by-step strategy, you can start doing the same thing for your own sites.
What do you think? I would love hear your thoughts in the comments below.