3 Social Media Hacks to Help Your Content Go Viral

Use these 3 social media hacks to help your content go viral and get more exposure than any of your previous social media efforts.

Hint: Targeting emotions is key.

Whether you own a nonprofit or a social impact company, your cause deserves mass exposure. At times, it can feel challenging to utilize social media to unlock this. With so many competing causes and companies, much of it can feel like white noise. Fortunately, thanks to today’s social media accessibility, it’s easier than ever to get shares and more eyes on your cause’s content. A recent report by Statistica found that 95 percent of young adults follow a brand online. Social media isn’t just for friends and social engagements anymore.

Achieving virality is quite random, but there are a few social media hacks that can get you closer. Used consistently over time, these hacks can — at the very least — garner your cause more exposure than any of your previous social media efforts.

Related: Beginner’s Guide to Social Media Marketing

1. Capture attention right off the bat

Especially if you don’t yet have a big name or a significant following, it can be hard to fight for viewers’ attention. Because the average person has the attention span of a goldfish, they have to instantly be interested in your content in order to engage further. Garrett Adkins, the co-founder of Impact Media, says it’s “all about the first three seconds.”

“It is not the consumer’s job to give us their time. It is our goal and effort to receive it,” Adkins says. “We want to hook someone through a bold statement or intriguing question that both catches the eye and still aligns with the context of our message. It’s an art.”

How can you grab viewers from the start? Perhaps a surprising headline, a cliffhanger or a catchy first line. Your goal should be to make the viewer — who potentially has never even heard of your cause before — to read the next line of your caption or watch the next 20 seconds of your video.

2. Incorporate emotions or ownership into the content

Because many causes are rooted in human emotion, impact-oriented startups have a real opportunity in creating content that targets emotions. One powerful example of this was UNICEF’s fifth birthday campaign. Using the headline, “Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday,” the campaign asked for viewers to submit a photo of themselves on their own fifth birthday. This did two things: It elicited emotion (especially seeing photos of very young children), and it also incorporated ownership, allowing viewers to contribute their own photos.

It will differ widely for every cause, but consider how you can put viewers in the shoes of who you’re impacting through your organization. How can you give them ownership and make the content interesting and emotional?

Related: A Breakdown of Every Major Social Media Platform for Business Owners

3. Aim to make people laugh

On the other side of the same coin, laughter is a human emotion that’s shareable. If you’ve ever stumbled across a meme or video that made you burst out laughing, you likely shared it with at least one other person. Because social impact companies typically have more serious causes, it can initially seem challenging to create humorous content around the mission.

A marketing campaign that did this well was from Movember, or No Shave November, which encourages men to talk about their mental health struggles through the month of November. Because “it gets better” is a common line in a mental health sense, Movember created a campaign featuring actors from The Office called It gets fuller,” poking fun at growing a mustache and how hard it can be for some. This relatable, funny message still raised awareness for the cause and gained virality.

Get creative with your own ideas using these three guidelines. As long as you target human emotion and aim to capture the viewer right off the bat, you’re in business. It may take a few iterations, but eventually, you’ll create a piece of content or a marketing campaign that gains some serious exposure for your cause.

3 Kinds of Social Media Marketing You Shouldn’t Ignore

Social media marketing is about much more than likes and shares. These 3 kinds of social media marketing should be on your radar if you want to stay current and competitive.

Influencers, paid promotions and the most potent ways to build a customer base without leaving your desk.


5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The following excerpt is from Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing by Eric Butow, Jenn Herman, Stephanie Liu, Amanda Robinson and Mike Allton, available August 25 via Entrepreneur Press. Pre-order now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books.

Social media marketing is about much more than likes and shares. Today’s social media landscape extends well beyond posting a thought or meme and hoping it takes off with your audience. These three kinds of social media marketing should be on your radar if you want to stay current and competitive.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is the use of other experts in your industry who already have a sizable audience that respects and trusts them. Regardless of what industry you’re in, there are likely other people in your field who have a more established reputation and audience. Maybe they have larger social followings, are published authors or are a mainstream media celebrity. These are people you can learn from, and it would be particularly valuable to have a relationship with them.

Of course, the obvious benefit to you is that when someone like that shares something you’ve written to their followers, you reach a vastly wider audience. You can’t expect that an influencer will share your latest blog post unless you already have a relationship in place — one where they’ve come to recognize your expertise and look forward to seeing your new content, just like the rest of your readers do.

Related: 5 Ways Marketing Strategy Has Changed Permanently

Social media can be a great equalizer, particularly on Twitter and Instagram, where you can follow anyone you want. Simply find the influencers in your niche, follow them and begin to engage with them naturally. You know — like a real human being who isn’t a stalker.

Reply or comment on posts that interest you, and share posts you think your own audience would be interested in. If the influencer is blogging, become an active reader and engage with them on their blog with insightful comments and questions. That will get you on their radar.

The next step is to begin to include them in your own content by quoting them, linking to their blog posts or including them in roundups, where you ask their opinion on a topic and publish opinions from a group of influencers. Or you could do a live video interview. Instead of being on someone else’s video, broadcast your own and invite a key influencer to be your guest. It’s more work on your part to organize and promote, but it’s also a tremendous opportunity for content creation.

Dark Social Media

One area you can’t measure, but that should be on your radar, is dark social media. This refers to all the ways people can share your content with other people without your knowledge. Examples include emails, text messages and direct social messages. In each of these cases, someone decided to share your content with one or more people, but they did so in a way that couldn’t be accurately measured or recorded.

While it’s unfortunate that you’re unable to track the impact of dark social media, that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. In fact, you should make it as easy as possible for people to share your work this way if they want to. For instance, consider putting email buttons on all your blog posts. Or, better yet, just make sure that your social sharing buttons include an “Other” button that links to email, texting apps like WhatsApp and whatever other choices someone might want to take advantage of.

Within your email newsletters, include social sharing buttons and an invitation to share the newsletter via email along with a note that says, “Did someone email you this newsletter? Make sure you don’t miss another by subscribing yourself.” And make sure all your blog posts have a strong call to action to either read another post, head over to a landing page or at least sign up for your email list so that you can further capture some of those dark social readers.

Paid Social Media

Finally, you should strongly consider incorporating paid social media in your marketing strategy. Every social platform now offers the ability to promote posts, allowing them to be seen by far more people than your existing follower base. But be careful. It’s easy to run up costs without seeing a real ROI. Make sure that you’re using the best platform for your business, targeting the right audience and sending that targeted traffic to the best possible content.

So let’s bring this back to your latest piece of content: Think about who you’re targeting with it. Is there a particular network where they’re more likely to be active? Frankly, one of the least expensive platforms to advertise on is Facebook. It also has the best targeting and sports the largest global user base. So that’s probably a good place to start. But do give Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram due consideration.

Related: CGI-Created Virtual Influencers Are the New Trend in Social Media Marketing

We find that the best content to promote on Facebook is content that’s particularly strong for driving email sign-ups. Perhaps it has a content upgrade or related ebook that readers can download for free, creating targeted leads for your business. A nice Facebook campaign, for just a few bucks a day, can send hundreds of readers and prospects to your blog post and business. What are you waiting for?