Epic content and the viral formulas

Here is a pattern that many content sites pursue
– find a good story
– write fast and/or
– write something good
– see if it spreads

This is New Yorker and NYTimes and Huffpo and many small sites

What people say is they see 0.3% of their stories get really popular – go viral – and produce 80% of their site traffic.

Many sites just pull the levers on that list.

1. Find better stories. Scour the earth, be in interesting places first hand, go deep, or surf the web to find stuff that is really compelling. The mechanics are hero/villain, narrative, meaning/moral, facts and aha’s.

2. Write faster so you are the first spot people see this story. Or you are the first search result or you get linked to the most in rewrites about it.

3. Write the authoritative piece – epic content – that spurs the desire to share it or find it or bookmark it. There is a whole mechanics to this too designed to highlight or invent the storytelling and fact pattern that attract people if it isn’t intrinsic in the story’s pattern.

These first few are aimed at raising the 0.3% as high as possible.

4. See if it spreads – that translates to “take more shots on goal”. They write more stories so they get more tries. Lower the cost per post so you can afford more attempts.

Aggregators do this #4 almost exclusively. They just autopublish everything and try to group/trend the winners higher.

One new trend in media is the viral mechanics are also different and can be exploited. Buzzfeed behind the scenes has some level of this and sites like Upworthy seem to focus entirely on this.

5. Design it to spread. The headline, the picture, the social network and promoting the story early on, etc. You can make your luck better because this was historically a factor in luck and is more measurable now.

The interesting thing if you focus here is you can do even less on items 1-4. Let others do that. There are many such outfits. Then you focus only on marketing the stories.

The first part is old hat now. Many make their living this way.

This new item 5 is a new mechanic and a new area where there are limited players.

We are going to try this on Knote.com which is already doing really well on the web running strategies 1-4.