How to Write a Viral Blog Post (Compounding)

Updated on July 19th, 2022

Lady holding plant sprouting from earth - How to write a Viral Blog Post - Compounding

How to Write a Viral Blog Post?  It’s the million dollar question that everyone wants to know right?  So how can you do it and is there a formula that you can follow?   Well, no, there’s not an exact formula of course.  But there are many attributes of viral blog posts that we can learn from and emulate. Accordingly, in brief summary:

A viral blog post should Invoke an emotional reaction in your reader.  You can do this by tapping into subjects that drive emotions.  This might be a new take or hack that’s a complete reversal of the current way of thinking on that topic.  Furthermore, if your article title seems outrageously unbelievable, it creates a NEED for readers to click and find out more.

What is a Viral Compounding Blog Post?

Related to a viral post, a compounding blog post is one which builds gradually over time.  The opposite to a compounding post is a decaying post which loses views over time. Compounding posts are usually evergreen in nature, and tap into deep emotions.

Decaying blog posts on the other hand are often “newsy” or period-correlated. They might be linked into a specific technology, social media platform or news event.

To draw a comparison, there wouldn’t be many posts ranking today which are tied into the MySpace social media site.  There may however be posts related to the psychology of social media sharing which are as relevant now as they ever were.

Compounding posts often start slowly, with the first few months having slow growth which may last up to 6 months.  After that they’ll often have a period of a year or longer with steady growth

Compounding vs Decaying Posts over Time

Source: Hubspot 

With this in mind, Hubspot analysed blogging data from more than 15,000 companies and recommended that marketers focus on compounding blog posts. Ie those that grow over time.

Given the advantages of compounding blog posts, let’s consider what type of posts become viral compounding posts.  We’ll also look at why these types of posts get so much traffic over time.

Emotional Involvement is the Driving Force in How to Write a Viral Blog Post

Readers are much more likely to share posts which elicit strong emotional feelings. These may be feelings in themselves or others.

Some of the feelings that viral posts elicit in the reader are:

  • Care
  • Pride
  • Envy
  • Satisfaction 
  • Longing
  • Fear of missing out
They laughed when I sat down at the piano - But when I started to Play

The above image, considered to be one of the earliest examples of viral marketing invokes many feelings in the reader.  It invites and almost requires you to read on and find out more. It taps into many of our needs and wants regarding social recognition and the need to prove others wrong.

Tap into the Need to Share Useful Content 

People have a need to be heard.  There is also some innate need to prove to others how knowledgeable and wise we are.

An example is Facebook, which gives some prime examples of how we as humans need to prove ourselves to others in our social circle. 

According to Buzzsumo, analysis of the top Facebook posts of 2017, the most shares posts were:

  • Practical Hacks
  • Quotes and Inspiring Content 
  • Food and Recipes

What these demonstrate is the need to share useful actionable content.  This need pertains to both sexes and is a very powerful social dynamic which we should tap into.

Use an Open Loop in the Title of your Article

The title of your article needs to spark the reader’s interest and be highly shareable on social media.  An open loop is a copywriting technique that makes the reader want to find out more by clicking and reading your post.

Newspapers are highly adept at using open loops.  Read your local online newspaper to find plenty of examples of open loop titles.

Tap into the Human Desire to Increase Social Status

So from above, we can see that people perceive that sharing useful information somehow elevates their social standing. This leads to a need to share this information.

Consider this post which was one of the most highly shared recent posts on social media:

Most shared post example

Source: Thrillist

By tapping into the needs and wants of travel and lifestyle, this post became a viral hit.  It also creates mystery as we want to find out how this is possible.

How to Write Viral Blog Posts – Blog Formats that Work Well

The following formats work really well with viral posts:

List Posts:  

The most effective type of viral post as readers have an insatiable need to get the answers.  Copyblogger wrote an interesting article on why list posts always work.  With list posts, the aim should be to steer your article away from appearing low grade or spammy (as appear in celebrity gossip sites).  

So, aim for good quality content and don’t underestimate your reader.  Intelligent readers can see though cheap attention grabbing headlines.

Questions that needs to be answered  

Our minds have an insatiable need to fill in the blanks. The Youtube video below is one example of this.

By creating a mystery in the minds of our readers, we create a void which needs to be fillled.  This is an extremely powerful way of pulling readers to our post.  The video above is titled “Hope this Doesn’t Happen to Anyone Else Filming Trains”.  The reader or viewer is compelled to find out what happened.

Great Titles for Viral Blog Posts 

Creating a catchy title is one of the most important aspects of your post.

Mystery is especially powerful in the title of your blog.  

Online Newspapers know the value of this and have become especially adept.  Here are a couple of great examples:

Whole websites have been setup based on viral article titles.  These sites can get a huge amount of traffic. ViralNova is a great example.  Readers see the headlines in social media and are compelled to click through to the site to find out more.

Viral post example

Source: ViralNova

Can I create all my Articles to be Viral Compounding Blog Posts? 

While of course we would want all of our posts to become viral, we might question if this is possible? 

The answer is of course that this is almost unattainable.  Even if we could design all of our posts so that they meet the characteristics of a viral post, this would be difficult to achieve.

This is because we don’t actually know which of our articles will resonate with our readers.  We might think that an article is well written but it’s based on our subjective judgment. 

Until we have traffic data, we don’t always have an accurate radar as for what will spark the needs for our readers to share the piece.  

Accordingly, in reality we usually find that only a few of our articles go viral and that’s only if we’re lucky.  Many (or often most) never achieve this. 

It’s a matter of seeing what works for you in your niche and then doubling down on that content.

Summary – How to Write a Viral Blog Post

When considering how to write a viral blog post, we need to study human behaviour.  What drives people to share a post? It’s often the need to be helpful to others. This is because we have a natural human desire to share.

Consider framing your posts in a way that you can tap into these traits when writing your post.   As list posts and “mystery” posts do especially well, you might consider adopting one of these formats.

Your content needs to be titled in a way that grabs the reader’s attention and doesn’t let them go.  Accordingly, make a list of articles or videos that had this effect on you as inspiration for your posts.


Frequently Asked Questions – How to Write a Viral Blog Post

Is there an exact formula to write viral content?

While there is no exact formula to make your content go viral there are techniques that you can use to improve the chances of it happening.

These might include the use of power words, emotional content and by evoking mystery in the reader‘s mind.

Where can I find examples of viral content?

News sites, gossip sites, forums, and social media are great places to find examples of viral content.

What are the key characteristics of a viral article?

Viral articles are often thought provoking. They are certainly unique and may go against current ways of thinking.  They often have seemingly unrealistic and highly clickable titles.  The title creates a strong need in the potential reader to find out more. 

What are the key characteristics of an evergreen article?

Evergreen articles are usually top of class. They may take the form of a complete guide or an interesting take on advanced ways of doing things.  They become evergreen because they’re not based on a fad.  Evergreen articles stand the test of time and give value to readers month after month and year after year.

Is writing a viral article difficult?

Writing a potentially viral article is no more difficult than writing any other piece of content. It just requires a great idea, a powerful hook and engaging prose.

Any general writing experience should give you the tools that you need for this.


Main Photo by Nikola Jovanovic on Unsplash


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