You just spent an hour planning a Facebook post and another two hours designing it. A pit in your stomach develops as you mouse over to click the post button. Your heart races as you wait to see how the community reacts. Hours pass by and your post has fallen flat of expectations. As admins of social media profiles we’ve all been there, but what if you could ensure that none of your posts ever fell flat again? What if there was a formula to turn every post into a viral post? We’ve analyzed and dissected hundreds of different social posts year after year. We searched high and low, from industry to industry, and fan page to fan page for the secret to viral content. The truth is, crafting the perfect social media post may be easier than you think. Let’s examine the anatomy of a viral post.

Timing

Timing is everything, especially when it comes to executing social posts. Social media platforms have algorithms that decide what content ends up on a user’s News Feed. For obvious reasons, time is a factor that plays into the algorithm. The older the post, the less likely it is to be seen. This is why you’ll want to post during the peak visiting hours for each social media platform. SocialTimes created an awesome infographic that outlines the best times to post to each social media platform.

Keep in mind that this data is based on averages. While your audience activity is probably in line with these averages it’s still best to tailor your posting schedule to your actual audience. To do so head into your Facebook Insights. From Insights click on the posts tab. From posts you’ll be able to see what days and times your audience is online. You can then schedule your posts for times when the largest number of your followers are online.

Facebook-Audience-Time

Imagery

You know that saying, “A picture is worth 1,000 words?” It still rings true. In fact, posts with images get 39% more interaction than any other post type. We get you might not be able to create all of your images in house, but you should put a little bit of effort into finding the most visually appealing pictures for your posts. There are a handful of great websites to pull royalty free images from at absolutely no cost. Some of the best image search sites include Picjumbo, Pexels, and Unsplash. Pexels is one of the largest free photo directories and will more than likely be your best bet for finding a relevant image. If you’d like to expand your photo search even more you can take a look at these 12 additional sites to find free images. When putting together images for you posts it’s best practice to craft a consistent style. For instance, take a look at Regina Anajionu‘s link images.

Regina

Notice, she uses different photographs to fit the mood of her blog posts, but she then applies the same left aligned text and domain branding bar to each photo. In doing this her content is easily distinguishable from other posts when scrolling through the news feed. Take a second to design a quick overlay for all of your images in Photoshop. It could be something as simple as a border with a brand logo.

Video Organic Reach

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then a moving picture is worth 100,000,000. While pictures are still the most popular post type, videos are catching up fast. Facebook’s algorithm actually favors videos. Posts with video content typically receive 135% more organic reach than posts with photos and brands are taking notice. 2015 has been dubbed the year of video marketing. Long story short, if given the choice to create a photo or a video, your business should opt for video creation.

Hashtags

The hashtag was first used in 2007 as way to group similar posts with keywords. Hashtags are a great way to increase the reach of your posts, but be wary. Adding too many hashtags will make your post look spammy and your engagement will sharply drop. The number of hashtags you’ll want to use differs by platform.

Twitter

Adding 1 to 2 hashtags to your Twitter posts could give your posts a 100% increase in engagement. Anything over 2 hashtags and posts generally see a decline in interaction. Data from Buffer suggests that posts with more than 2 hashtags typically have 17% less engagement.

Facebook

Hashtags on Facebook don’t seem to be picking up steam. Edgerank Checker found that hashtags did little to nothing to help gain posts additional exposure. Moreover, Edgerank found that posts with hashtags actually performed worse than posts without them. However, it’s not impossible to find success with hashtags on the social giant. They can be very helpful when conducting specific campaigns or covering specific events. We’d advise that they be used sparsely and when you do use them use no more than 2 hashtags per post.

Instagram

Unlike Facebook and Twitter, you don’t have to limit yourself when it comes to hashtagging on Instagram. Studies show that Instagram interactions are highest on posts with 11 hashtags or more. Go crazy with your hashtags. The more the merrier! Of course, you’ll want to make sure that all of your tags are relevant to your post and that you at least have 11.

If you don’t quite understand hashtags or how to use them that’s perfectly fine. There is an entire website dedicated to understanding the art of hashtagging. To learn more about how to use hashtags, make sure to pay a visit to HowToHashtag.com.

Copy

This is the meat of your post. Imagery, timing, and hashtags are all important, but it’s what you write that will ultimately sell your post. The important things to keep in mind while writing copy are to try to be as short and concise as possible. With Twitter, you’re already limited in how much you can say. Studies show that across most social media platforms, the shortest posts perform the best. In fact, if possible you should try to keep your copy under 70 characters while still maintaining a compelling message. It can be a tough balancing act, but it’s not entirely impossible.

Key Ingredients

We’ve analyzed hundreds of different social posts looking high and low, from industry to industry, and fan page to fan page for the secret ingredient to viral content. It turns out that there isn’t one single ingredient that leads to high post engagement, but multiple ingredients. To unlock our ingredients we ask that you show this post a little bit of love by liking or tweeting the post. Read over these ingredients and bookmark this blog post. Share this post with your friends or anyone interested in taking their content marketing to the next level. The next time your mouse hovers over the post button make sure your post lines up with some of the viral ingredients below before clicking post.

In Conclusion

You don’t have to be a huge corporation with a large marketing budget to craft a viral status update. Once you understand the anatomy that comprises a viral social media post it becomes easy to replicate success over and over again. Put your creative thinking cap on and brand storm unique ways to engage with your fans. Understand your target audience, get your timing right, conduct hashtag research, craft the perfect imagery, and include some of our viral ingredients. You’ll soon start to see the level of engagement your brand deserves.

Even with automation, developing an engaging social media presence can be difficult and time consuming. Our social media experts can help you get your social account on the fast track to success. We provide a full umbrella of social services, from consulting, to campaign planning/implentation, and account management. Contact us to learn more about what Tipping Point can do for you.