Philosophical Tactics for Creating Viral Content

As social media continues its dynamic growth across all industries, the ultimate goal for any business is creating viral content.

Once a piece of content (blog post, infographic, image) starts garnering viral traction, the results typically compound, and page views quickly reach new heights. This is not only great for a company’s product or services, but also the company’s brand.

Considering the outcome has a double impact, it’s worth the the utmost energy to create viral content. But how? Is there a scientific formula of why some content continue goes viral, and some doesn’t? At LSEO, we’ve witnessed amazing content that never went viral, and some so-so content that went viral and got before 1000s of eyes.

Though there’s no set formula, there is one tactic that has a significant impact when attempting to create viral content: the use of Aristotle’s persuasion principles of Ethos, Pathos and Logos.

The art of persuasion prompts content to go viral – if you persuade one person’s emotions through proper rhetoric in regards to your product or services, that person is naturally going to want to share those emotions. That’s when content goes viral, and your brand’s mission quickly spreads.

Let’s take a closer look at Aristotle’s three modes of persuasion – what he coined “artistic proofs” back in BC times.

Ethos (Ethical Appeal)

The art of persuasion begins with building your brand’s Ethos. Ethos is based on credibility, something every brand should strive for.

Think Apple in the computer world; BMW in the car world; Gucci in the fashion world. These companies spent years establishing credibility as a brand, and now there’s no stopping them. It takes some serious work to build credibility; but the process can create some serious momentum for the brand.

Using an Ethos technique means knowing all the jargon and talk of that audience – such as SERPS and Target Keywords in the SEO world. It also means exploiting your expertise on the subject, and always sounding fair and unbiased. This credibility can be further enhanced through exposing talent of the team. Take LSEO; our CEO has 17 years of digital marketing experience, sold his first startup Pepperjam to eBay Enterprises, and wrote one of the best-selling books on SEO. Members on his team have vast experience, also; the content team lead has over a decade of content creation for multiple industries, and the SEO team lead nearly a decade of paid and organic search experience. Don’t hold back on exploiting the talent – this quickly escalates brand credibility.

Pathos (Emotional Appeal)

Writing from a Pathos – the Greek word for both suffering and experience – perspective simply means that you’re going to appeal to your audience’s emotions. Show the audience – don’t simply tell them – what feelings you’re trying to get across.

This is possible through a moving picture – say a chart that shows positive SEO results of past clients (We Grew Business 3,280%!) for a digital marketing company, or a fish caught in a six-pack retainer for an environmental agency trying to prevent littering. It’s also possible to show through good old storytelling. The more emotional, the better – rags-to-riches stories, weight loss, quitting a bad habit, or whatever you can convey within your industry.

The number one viral posts always target emotions. Though happiness trumps all, sometimes you have to push some buttons to create something highly unique. It may channel some anger, but there will always be critics – don’t let them slow down your brand’s voice.

Logos (Logical Appeal)

Here, you simply use logic or reasoning to appeal to an audience. The best use of Logos in content creation means using historical data and statistics, and citing other authoritative figures within your industry.

You’re basically using logic to prompt some action by showing others in the simplest terms what does and does not work. There’s no doubting that SEO companies are the proverbial dime a dozen now – and some are still using older practices such as keyword stuffing and paying link builders from third-world countries.

By showing how devastating this can be to a business’ web presence, you will appeal to that audience’s logic. Logos uses an “if” and “then” basis – “if” one thing has happened before, “then” wouldn’t this likely happen again?

Concluding Thoughts

Tap into some ancient philosophy to help your content go viral, and always have these three modes of persuasion – Ethos, Pathos and Logos – in mind before any content is created. Engaging people’s emotions to persuade has worked for thousands of years, and this will never change.

Try these principles when creating your own content, and remember to always spend some serious time crafting an emotionally appealing headline – you got to get people to click before they read, or all this work is futile.

With over a decade of experience in business leadership and creating traditional content for an online voice, which includes ghost writing for major publications, Ron Lieback is the Head of Content Marketing at LSEO. If you’d like to get published on major publications like Forbes, Inc., Fast Company, and AMEX OPEN, contact us below.