In digital media, we're all looking to capture that special something that could make our content go viral. It can feel like luck of the draw and often prove difficult to pin down just what exactly makes a photo, video or article become so incredibly sharable. However, it's not a complete mystery.
There are usually elements in viral content that are proven attention-getters. A post from The Daily SEO Blog notes that studies done on content from The New York Times have showed that longer articles, as well as content that elicits high-energy emotions like awe, anger and anxiety tend to be shared more. Oh, and don't forget humor. (Everyone loves to laugh!)
But what about fashion content?
We bloggers aren't The NY Times, and we're not posting videos of our kids on their way back from the dentist to our sites. (Are we?) Our content usually follows a different, less journalistic trajectory, and our goal with a post is often not so much to draw out emotions in our reader, but to inspire or aid them in something.
Inspiration and help.
Viral and very popular fashion blog content almost always fills one of these two desires in the audience: It's visually inspiring or helpful. Here are two examples:
Atlantic-Pacific: Blair Eadie's personal style blog has become wildly popular because of, well, her personal style. Her pillar content is built on her unique flair for dressing, and the inspiration it provides to visitors. You see how she layers, what she pairs together and where she buys it, and it's possible to mimic or take cues from her looks in your own life by shopping her links.
Wendy's Lookbook: When it comes to successful video content, Wendy Nguyen knows exactly how to target her followers. (Her YouTube channel has over 330,000 subscribers.) Wendy creates videos that help her viewers, by giving tangible styling tips and examples of how to wear certain items. Her video on 25 Ways To a Scarf in 4.5 Minutes has more than 18 million views, and her sock bun tutorial has over 1 million views.
Viral fashion content spreads differently, too.
Viral sharing in the highly-visual fashion community has a lot to do with the aesthetically-driven channels of Pinterest and Tumblr. I would argue that a huge part of the reason that Blair's blog grew so quickly was because of users sharing her images on Tumblr (and later, Pinterest). The ability to “re-blog” and “re-pin” content keeps images cycling to the top of people's feeds, whereas shares on Twitter and Facebook have a shorter half-life.
Wendy's video content is first-and-foremost very high-quality, with crisp, beautiful visuals, music, and professional editing. Second though, she uses SEO-friendly keywords in her titles and headlines. This tactic ensures that people searching for specific style advice on YouTube or though search engines find it as easily as possible.
Then again, it's not as easy as that.
Of course, these are not the only two examples of how fashion goes viral, and it's not exclusively it's ability to inspire or aid that causes content to spread like wildfire across the Internet. There will always be hard-to-pin-down intangibles that make one person's post to succeed where another's does not. Yes, Blair is beautiful and has exceptional style – but so do a lot of bloggers. Those qualities alone don't explain her popularity.
Sometimes it's a masterful mix of visuals and DIY tutorials like A Beautiful Mess, sometimes it's fresh humor like The Man Repeller. And sometimes, it's just silly and taps into a feeling – like the Tumblr, Your LL Bean Boyfriend.
While there's no way to guarantee viral success, we as bloggers can take cues from already popular and wide-spread images, videos and posts. Remember that quality counts and humor never hurts, but don't bend over backwards trying to be fashion blogging's answer to “Gangnam Style.”
*For more, check out this article on The Daily SEO Blog.
What do YOU think causes fashion content go viral?
I think fashion is like art – it’s so subjective. What one person likes another will hate. Part of what makes something popular is the audience. I think some people are more likely to share things than others. This is evidenced on my Facebook page every day – certain people seem to share everything they see, others only share things related to a favorite topic, and others rarely share anything.
Honestly I’m not a big sharer. Cats and shoes seem to be my favorite things. And humor, especially the retro women cartoon things. But there’s always that occasional outfit or post that strikes a chord and I think my friends will like it, too. Ultimately I only share what I think others will be interested in seeing.
On my blog the post that is the more viral is about Chiara Ferragni. And what is surprising is that after one year it is still read while I didn’t publicize it so much either.
I was hesitating about having a Pinterest but I think I will be considering having one for my inspirations and future posts, like a way to keep the images I want to include in my posts :).
Thank you for the great tips.
Shug Avery of Incognito
For me, I’ve noticed my most popular posts are the ones that have really been shared, eg. a recipe of mine that has been Pinned loads of times, at least one person Stumbled it, and it made it onto Tastespotting and Foodgawker, and posts people will Google for a lot. My most popular post is ‘How To Get Hair Like Blair Waldorf’ and another is a post where I casually mentioned a very successful and searched for blogger who is a friend of mine in passing, that post comes up when they Google her!