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How B2B Businesses Can Create Viral Content

By Ryan Law on Wed, May 20, 2015

I know a ton of people that think 'boring B2B content' can't go viral. I know others that think B2B content shouldn't go viral, and that popular, well-shared content can't achieve anything positive for a B2B company.

I disagree.

Example_of_Viral_B2B_Blog_Post_Traffic-1

This graph shows the website traffic generated by a single blog post, written for one of our clients in a particularly technical B2B niche. They started the year getting no traffic at all.

As I type this, the blog post has been viewed 16,222 times.

The graph is a perfect example of viral content in action. Soon after publication, we saw an explosion of traffic, driven almost entirely by direct (dark blue), referrals (yellow) and social media (turquoise). 

Currently, the post has been shared 1,080 times - with 600 of those shares coming from the super-B2B-centric LinkedIn. It's this feverish person-to-person activity that creates viral content, as its readers feel compelled to pass it on to their friends and colleagues.

Viral_B2B_Content_Social_Media_Shares

Even though the frenzy of social sharing eventually dies down, that initial surge of popularity garnered enough backlinks and traffic to see the post's organic search traffic quickly grow to a steady 1000+ views a month.

In total, this single blog post generates our B2B client an average of 1800 additional page views per month. Not a bad return, right? With that in mind, B2B businesses can definitely create viral content, and actually, it's in their best interests to do so.

So how you can do it?

1) Create Content Worth Sharing

Whilst there aren't really any shortcuts or tricks to help turn our next blog post into a runaway success, creating viral content is actually a pretty simple process: we just need to create something worth sharing. 

There are a handful of key reasons for people to share content, and to go viral, we need to leverage one (or more) of those triggers.

Solve a Problem

Solving serious problems is the easiest way to your reader's heart. If your blog post offers a ton of actionable advice, and helps your audience tackle one of their most pressing problems, they'll read it, love it, and pass it on to people with the same problem.

Use Persona-Specific Targeting

By creating a super-targeted blog post, you reduce the size of your potential audience, but increase the chances of engaging those people. Viral kings Buzzfeed leverage this to great success (X Things Only a Teacher/Chocoholic/Short Person Will Understand), and by writing blog posts for particular segments of your target audience, your B2B business can do the same. 

Elicit an Emotional Response

There's a strong correlation between emotion and social sharing. If your blog post can surprise, delight or divide your readers, there's a great chance you'll earn some serious social leverage. 

Create Epic Content

There's a direct correlation between content length and content shares. The longer your blog post, the more shares it's likely to receive. This phenomenon is known by social psychologists as the 'Length-Implies-Strength' heuristic. Most readers will assume that a long post is more worthy of a share than a short one - even if they haven't read the post themselves. 

Average_Shares_by_Content_Length

Source

2) Make It Easy to Share

Creating valuable content gives your reader a reason to share. Next, we need to give them a way to share it. 

As illustrated above, social media shares are one of the most crucial channels at our disposal. They make it quick and easy for our readers to share content with their entire social networks. Better still, if our readers are relevant to our business (read: potential customers), it's likely their peers and social media connections will fall into the same demographic. 

You don't want to bombard your reader with dozens of social share icons, and desperate invocations to 'SHARE ON FACEBOOK, GOOGLE+, LINKEDIN AND TWITTER!'.

Equally, if your reader feels compelled to share your blog post, it should be easy and intuitive for them.

3) Don’t Neglect the Basics

It's not wise to pursue viral content as a standalone B2B marketing tactic. Viral content is unpredictable, and in order to generate a constant inflow of qualified leads for your business, you need to invest most of your energy into regular content creation.

Consistently creating valuable content will grow your audience, and your reach, and increase the chances of hitting-on a hugely popular post. 

4) Make the Most of the Opportunity

B2B content is unlikely to reach the same stratospheric heights of popularity as B2C content, but it's still entirely possible to reach thousands of people. Each of those readers has the potential to become a blog subscriber, lead, or customer. 

Viral content has a proven track-record in the B2C sector, and with slow uptake in B2B, there's a huge opportunity for your business to get there before your competition.

If we can generate 16,000 visits with a single post, for a client in a hugely technical B2B niche and no existing audience, your business can do the same.

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