How To Write Viral Stories in 7 Steps
Practical tips to increase the chance of writing viral stories based on experience
I write to inform and delight my readers. Some writers focus on entertaining their readers. It depends on our writing goals and values to adjust our style, voice, and content.
Over the years, some of my articles and stories on various content platforms gained significant visibility, and after a while, they reached a viral state.
By the way, I did not write my articles to get viral purposefully. The time, effort, and diligence produced good outcomes.
In this story, I want to share with you the key components that make a difference. These points reflect my learning in the field as a professional writer, blogger, guest blogger, and freelance writer. As mentioned in one of my stories, I use Design Thinking principles for my writing practice.
By using the Design Thinking approach, I empathise with my readers, have compassion for their learning needs, and keep their requirements as a priority in my writing goal. Focussing on needs and wants of readers is a critical success factor for creating a sustainable reader base.
Let me share these seven simple points which helped some of my stories get viral in various content development platforms.
1. Title and subtitle
I learned that an enticing title is a primary success factor for a story to gain visibility. Readers click on a story based on its title. Creating an attractive title is a critical opportunity for writers to make the first impression.
If your title and subtitles are compelling enough, your readers will most likely click on it.
However, if your title is a click-bait, you may miss an opportunity for next time. Initially, you may have many views, but reading times can suffer. Reading time is the essential factor for your stories' success from a financial and recognition point of view on many platforms.
Your reputation as a writer depends on the quality and promise of your title. If you can deliver what you promise in your title, it is the first step to the sustainability of your readership basis.
2. First paragraph
After the title, the most crucial factor can be your first paragraph.
Many readers read the first paragraph then determine to continue to read the rest of your story.
The first paragraph must hook the reader and tell them what your story is about and why they should invest time reading your story.
Simplicity, brevity, clarity, and impact are the key considerations in the first paragraph.
Even though I have a scholarly background, I refrain from using difficult words.
I always choose the simplest words and use the Hemingway Editor to check the difficulty level of my content.
The most viral ones are around grade six and seven for public stories.
This story, as an exception, is at grade ten level due to addressing an audience consist of writers.
3. Final paragraph
Advanced readers usually check the conclusion of an article first.
If the conclusion is informative, engaging, and insightful, they decide to read the body of the article elaborating upon the story's argument. This is a prevalent pattern for sophisticated readers.
If you are writing about topics such as science, medicine, technology, philosophy and other professional topics, you need to pay special attention to your conclusion. Your conclusion must be as compelling and attractive as your first paragraph.
4. Main text
After the title, first paragraph, and conclusion, the main text in your story is the next determining factor for readability and success of your story.
This is the main part of your story that you share your experience with your readers. The main section can increase reading time and build your reputation as a writer.
I always focus on clarity, brevity, simplicity, and impact in the main section of my articles.
We can use the title, first paragraph, and the conclusion to hook our readers. However, we can use the main text to gain reading times.
Without grabbing the attention of the reader using the first three elements, we cannot realistically expect substantial reading times for our stories.
5. Credibility of writer
Many readers want to read content from credible authors. It is not necessarily your expertise, but how you position yourself for your content.
You don't have to have a PhD or an MBA to be trustworthy. In fact, sometimes big titles can make a detrimental effect when the title and content quality do not match with the perceived credibility.
Our readers can gauge credibility by three primary means.
The first one is a brief description of your profile. The second one is your credentials in your profile. The third one is your stats, such as the number of followers and views. In addition, readers can be attracted to your style of writing and your authentic voice.
Fixing the first two components can be relatively easy but require time. For example, you need to be on the platform for a while to create a follower base and need to publish a considerable amount of stories in specific topics to gain more visibility.
The last component, style and quality of content, can be the hardest one. It requires substantial writing experience and research skills. It is doable but requires effort, time, and investment in your writing expertise.
Just writing and publishing can hardly create trending and viral stories. It would help if you initiated the visibility of your work. This can be done in various ways. One of the low hanging fruit is in collaboration with other writers and many readers.
When you collaborate with other writers, they most likely read your stories and react to them with comments and likes. They can also share your stories with their readers. Engagement can enhance your network.
In addition, engagement can be done with external sources as well. Sharing content in social media can also increase the chance of gaining more readers for the content.
The by-product of engagement with writers and readers is creating multiple backlinks of your articles.
The more backlinks your stories can have, the faster they can be indexed by search engines.
For example, some of my stories went viral after six months or later when they were indexed and searchable in the search engines. Consider optimizing your stories using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) rules of your writing platform.
There may be several other factors for our content to reach a broader audience and get viral. These seven points made the real difference in my experience; hence I wanted to share them with you.
I write on eclectic topics including self-improvement, personal development, leadership, content strategy, content marketing, technology, philosophy, health, psychology, cognitive science and more.
I want to give you an idea from my experience. So far, the most viral stories were about blockchain, internet of things (IoT), technology leadership, biohacking tips, blogging tips, big data, data science, artificial intelligence, and robotics automation process.
After they got viral, these articles were also curated by some content marketing firms. I also donate my content to some schools, universities, libraries, and online communities for charitable and altruistic purposes as a giveback activity.
The more I give, the more I receive. Act of kindness could create serendipity. And serendipity can create more visibility and virality.
I hope this article provided you with a high-level overview of the key points to increase the visibility of your articles and stories. I wish you the best in your writing career.
Thank you for reading my perspectives.
About the author
I'm a writer and published author with four decades of content development experience in business, technology, leadership, and health. I work as a postdoctoral researcher and consultant. My background is at https://digitalmehmet.com.