Going viral: how to do it and is it worth it?

19 Aug 2021
Estate Agents Co-operative

In a world where teenage influencers make millions every year, ex-reality TV stars become big brands, and almost everyone knows how to do Gangnam Style, viral content seems to be king.

Within real estate, just like many industries, agents have become increasingly creative with their content over recent years, posting funny and outrageous videos of their listings, boosting their exposure across the country via social channels and even mainstream television news.

But how important is it for your content to go viral? How can you ensure that happens? Is it worth it?

We take a quick dive into viral content from a real estate perspective, so you can make informed decisions about your personal and agency approach to branding and marketing.

What is viral content?

For those of you still coming to grips with the online world, and a little unsure of what ‘going viral’ is all about, it’s almost exactly as it sounds.

In life before the web, a virus was simply an infectious agent that moves from one host to the next.

Online, viral content can be posts, videos, tweets or any other digital materials that experience high levels of exposure and awareness as a result of people sharing them with one another.

The best examples are often videos. Many of us remember Professor Robert Kelly discussing a very serious situation in South Korea, live with a BBC journalist, only for his children to interrupt the scene in the most hilarious of ways.

This video was so engaging and so relatable to so many, that it was shared over and over, and viewed hundreds of millions of times all around the globe — it went viral!

Why do people want to create viral content?

Many people these days make their living directly from viral content, that is, they are paid for the content they produce or via the ads viewed within. Viral content is also a valuable marketing tool for businesses in any consumer-facing industry.

While you can and likely do pay for some online advertising for your agency brand or your listing, one piece of viral content can build significant brand awareness, website traffic and leads – and all this, essentially for free (except for production).

How can you create viral content?

Due to the nature of viral content – achieving viral status only through the desire of people to share it – there is no guaranteed way to create it.

Studies have actually found that of all the content produced (billions and billions of posts, videos and other content every day), most achieve none or very few shares, and a very small percentage dominate the space.

As agents, you know that what people like can change from one day to the next, and this is very true of fickle online audiences who share content. For this reason, it’s anyone’s guess what will take off, and what will sink to the bottom of the newsfeed.

When trying to create viral content, some of these tips are handy to help you get started:

Try centring your concept on current trends. The video below has been very popular and widely shared since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak in Australia. It provides unique and engaging commentary on something that affected everyone and is of broad interest.
(Warning, some language in this one).

In real estate, this might translate to describing a home in the context of a current topic of interest. For example, we recently saw a great ad within which each room was described by its value during lockdown, and the house itself became the best adventure a buyer could take at this time.

Remember online attention span is short. Whether it’s a blog or a video, you have very little time to capture and keep the attention of the person viewing or reading.

Your introduction, that is, the first few seconds of your content needs to be engaging and captivating, encouraging your audience to stick with you for the long haul.

While branded intros on videos are great for recognition, Facebook reports you only have a handful of seconds to win your viewer over, so making the most of the start of the video is crucial.

Headlines are vital. This one applies mainly if you are creating content that requires people to read on, but a headline or text with a video can catch the attention of a scroller on socials too.

As an agent, who writes ads for listings, you know how much impact a good heading and a solid description can have, so draw on those skills and what you know of your audience to create real impact and interest.

Get visual. As noted, some of the most viral content to-date, has been videos, but if you use Facebook, Insta or any other social platform, there’s no doubt you’ve also seen an inspiring quote or a hilarious meme and decided to tag a friend or share it.

On newsfeeds of endless posts, ensuring yours has visual appeal and will stop a scroller in their tracks is one of the most important steps in creating viral content.

Of note, viral posts tend to not be professional, polished shots, but candid images or videos that don’t appear to be advertising.

Start the sharing. For a post to go viral, it has to be shared, so kicking that off yourself, can be the spark it needs. Once you’ve created and published your content, share it through all the channels you have access to – socials, email, messages – and ask everyone you know to do the same. Your aim is to share it with your friends, so they share it with their friends and so on, until a million views!

What to look out for when creating content

While there are a lot of upsides to viral content, there are also some pitfalls you need to look out for:

Brand and reputation damage. While the best content for viral might be topical, funny or even controversial, it can also be offensive to some – and we live in a much more sensitive world than we ever did before. When creating content, consider what it says about your brand and about the people you serve in your community, and how it might affect your relationships or reputation.

It’s also always worth remembering that other people may not understand your inside jokes or share your sense of humour, especially if it is slightly more crude. The video below is a great example of some controversial content that created quite a mixed reaction, even from real estate agents. (Another low level warning on this one).

Managing trolls. No longer odd little dolls with coloured hair, trolls are now keyboard warriors who like to attack or belittle other people from the hidden safety of their homes. While they’re not brave, they can be nasty! The best bet when dealing with trolls is not to deal with trolls – ignore their comments completely. You should have a strong policy for acceptable behaviour on your social media channel which empowers you to delete offensive comments and remove the people who make them.

Managing the response. If you are fortunate to create content that goes viral, like ‘BBC dad’ you may suddenly be inundated with interest. In real estate, while it might help you find your buyer sooner, it also might mean you have to deal with a lot more tyre kickers.

Before you set out on this path, consider the purpose of the communication. Do you need attention from millions of people all over the country, or would an ad campaign targeted at those most likely to buy be more effective for you in this particular situation?



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