Viral content using “reach bait”

Writing great content can be really frustrating if you aren’t generating the kind of buzz or hype your posts deserve. If you’ve ever looked at articles that go viral and wondered what it is they have got that your articles don’t, the answer (content quality aside) is more than likely reach.

Producing content without an audience is a tough, lonely job. But it doesn’t have to be that way because there are plenty of people out there who do have an audience. You just have to find a way to put the two together.

Why reach is important
Blogger X with 100 000 followers on twitter might write the same article as blogger Y with 50 twitter followers with wildly differing results. The former article might shoot to the top of technorati, become a stumbleupon favourite, get into the news and traditional media and be commented on by other industry experts, while the latter slips quietly away without so much as a peep.

Reach is hugely important and can make content work for you, instead you working to make content. By increasing your reach you increase the chances of postings being picked up by other media or going viral. This in turn boosts traffic and visibility and leads to a much healthier bank balance.

So how do you do get reach in the first place?
Reach is one of those catch-22 things. In order to improve your reach you need plenty of fans, friends, followers and connections, but in order to get more of those you need to increase your reach.

Most people build their reach over time by creating quality content, becoming involved in their niche and so on. But there’s a better way…

Link bait vs. reach bait
Ever heard of link bait? Its when you write content with the sole purpose of generating buzz and hype – usually by saying something inflammatory, humorus, unusual or unique or generally conversation worthy. Link bait can really boost traffic because it gets people talking and the content can spread like wildfire online.

Reach bait is exactly the same thing, except that it is specifically designed to leverage other people’s reach. Instead of writing an article that is conversation worthy to anyone, you write an article that is specifically relevant to a select group of bloggers or organisations in your niche.

Once you have content you know will interest blogger X (with the 100 000 twitter followers), and friends, you let them know about it and encourage them to repost or retweet, discuss or pass on the article. This has the net effect of adding their reach to yours. You have written content that is reach bait.

Writing reach bait
Now, many bloggers jealously guard their readers and won’t simply post anything you send to them. You have to be imaginative in the way you go about reach baiting. Take some time to get to know what the target blogger likes to to talk about, what the readers respond to and cater for that.

For example, you might even write an article that happens to mention how great blogger X is in one of your reach bait posts. People, and especially bloggers, are not immune to a bit of flattery. It’s worth a shot. Remember that its not what you know, or who you know, but who people think you know, so don’t be afraid to talk about other people, provided you do so responsibly.

Getting content in front of a few hundred thousand eyeballs can mean the difference between instant online success and a long drawn out struggle to build reach the traditional way.