When it comes to going viral on the Internet, there may not be a bigger expert on the planet than Oliver Isaacs. He is a serial entrepreneur, social media guru, and a top influencer in the UK. Oliver’s social media pages are well known and regularly reach millions of users every month. He has given business advice and motivational stories for high-profile entrepreneurs like Tony Robbins, Mark Cuban, and Tim Ferris.
It was a thrill to speak to Oliver last week and learn more about what he is up to and has uncovered about going viral on today’s crowded internet.
John White: Your company, Amirite, has become known as the place where the Internet meme was born, Internet slang became commonplace, and earlier influencers were created. What’s the future look like for the platform?
Oliver Isaacs: Whilst the dominance of Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, and Snapchat can’t be disputed, we believe that the Internet is still in the early stages compared to what it will be, and there is still opportunity around for network-based sites to gain market share and reach millions of users across the web.
We would describe Amirite as a mix between Reddit, Twitter, and Quora. It differs from Facebook and Twitter as user opinions are voiced straight to the viral world, while simultaneously people can build strong tight-knit communities and form long-term friendships with different people from all over the world, offering the best of both Twitter’s openness and Facebook’s community spirit.
There are currently millions of user comments, and nearly a billion votes have already been processed on the site. In terms of the future of the site, we have received significant interest from a number of key players in the investing world to expand the site, and whilst we are open to partnerships, our main focus is growing the site to ensure it achieves its full potential.
What we are trying to do with Amirite is different and fill a gap in the market, focusing solely on people’s opinions and thoughts, whilst leveraging the power of social networks to drive traffic to the site. Our number one priority is user satisfaction and enjoyment, which will ultimately lead to user growth.
White: Having seen content go viral on your site and social pages so many times, you have become quite an expert on the types of content that is both clickable and shareable. However, with social media more crowded than ever, it seems to be getting harder and harder to create viral content.
Yet, every day there are people who crack the code and get millions of views on their videos, blogs, and links. What makes content go viral today?
Isaacs: Great question. It’s true social media is more crowded than ever, and it’s getting harder to stand out now that more and more people are getting clued up and realising the power of online content. Obviously, if you got into the game early and managed to build your own large following like Logan Paul or PewDiePie did, the potential reach of your video or link is going to be much greater than someone just starting out. In this game, it’s all about networks and relationships.
Whether it’s your share-for-share partnership network on Facebook, your Engagement groups on Instagram, or your cross-promotion network on YouTube, ensuring your content has the best chance of going viral ultimately comes down to how strong your network is.
Once you have managed to build a solid following and network, whether your video, blog, meme or link goes viral comes down to the nature of the content. To make something viral, it needs to stand out, and there are a number of characteristics that all viral content tends to have in common:
1. Surprising content tends to generate the best responses, and more people are likely to share something unexpected.
2. An inspirational video or feel-good video generally does very well as well. Everyone wants to take some time out and feel great, especially in the hectic world we live in, and anything that engages our positive emotions is likely to reach the masses.
3. Any content relating to current affairs that is newsworthy is likely to be engaging and memorable. It also has the best chance of being picked up by news outlets, which will attract cross-network traffic across multiple platforms. Additionally, videos, blogs, and links that appeal to universal niches like travel, fitness, pets, luxury, motivation, and food are often the ones that keep cropping up in people’s newsfeeds.
4. Content that is touching and creates strong empathy is also likely to do well. If a connection is established between the content and reader, not only is the network or influencer going to attract new followers, they are also going to gain a more loyal following, which will ultimately lead to more people sharing in the future too.
5. Content that is simple, visually appealing, easy to understand, and shareable is also key. Sometimes people forget about the basics and try and make things more complicated than they need to be. I’ve seen very simple comedy videos do very well, and the genius behind the simplicity is what made them be seen by tens of millions.
White: You’ve worked with some of the most well-known entrepreneurs and social media influencers in the world helping grow their followers by the millions. What’s the one tip you would give to other entrepreneurs who want to grow a large following online and become an influencer in their industry and beyond?
Isaacs: There are now more people than ever wanting to become influencers, with the rise of Instagram stories, Facebook pages, YouTube, and Snapchat. Whilst this has definitely made the market more crowded, this has meant that people need to stand out and up their game to ensure eyeballs are on them. A lot of potential influencers, when starting out, don’t realise the magnitude of the task ahead. I’ve seen many influencers fall by the wayside. Building a loyal following takes time, and learning how the algorithms work on each platform also takes time and effort.
From first-hand experience, I know it’s extremely difficult to grow and cultivate your following across multiple platforms at the same time. Saying that, I would recommend diversifying across all platforms to begin with, and once you have found one that suits your niche, I would concentrate on growing there; for example, comedy videos tend to do best on Facebook and Instagram, music-type videos do very well on YouTube, and travelling and modelling are best suited to Instagram.
So the main advice I would give to a potential influencer looking to grow a following in the millions is to ensure you are the right character who does not give up easily. If you’re not determined and prepared to fail before you succeed, you’re already at a disadvantage.
White: Instagram has been a platform you’ve had massive success with both personally and for your clients. Why should entrepreneurs be using Instagram to grow their brand, and what can they do to stick out on the platform?
Isaacs: Very few people in the startup, investing, and tech space have large followings on Instagram. That’s the main reason I chose to focus the influencer side of my business on Instagram first. As mentioned earlier, in this game it’s important to stand out and try to be different. My following has reached a few hundred thousand followers on Instagram very quickly, and I believe one of the main reasons for this is because my content and daily stories on investing, business, life, and motivation have been unique to the platform.
Entrepreneurs and businesses should definitely make use of Instagram. Mobile has now taken over desktop traffic, and Instagram is the place to be. Not only is the user base massive (over 800 million active users), but the users are much more loyal compared to say, Snapchat. If you have a visually appealing business, there is no question you should target Instagram. Instagram is also marketer friendly, where you can track your analytics and drive traffic to your page. There is no doubt you can enhance your brand identity significantly.
In order to stick out on the platform, you need to have clear goals in mind. Are you interested in monetising? Do you want to become an influencer in a specific niche? Do you want to drive traffic to your business website? The niches that do best on the platform are travel, fitness, comedy, motivation, luxury, quotes, and fashion. There are numerous strategies and tactics you can use to grow your following and stand out. My 5 favourite are:
1) Cross-promote to grow your following
If you’re using Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube or another platform, you’ll want to give maximum coverage to your Instagram page. You can do this with shout-outs, screenshots in Snapchat stories, and embedding your username logo in Facebook and YouTube videos.
2) Ensure you maximise the use of hashtags
Hashtags are one of the most important features of Instagram. They ensure your content is exposed to a larger audience. Using the right hashtags will increase your potential for new likes, followers, and engagement. My advice is to try and focus on specific and less-crowded hashtags and make sure you use the 30-hashtag limit on all posts. Stay away from obvious and well-known keyword hashtags, as your post is unlikely to be seen due to the saturated world of well-known keywords.
3) Geo-tag in Instagram stories
The introduction of Instagram geo-tags in stories has introduced a new way to grow your page. Adding your specific location to your story could lead to your story appearing in the location’s specific page story, thereby increasing your exposure to new followers using this unique strategy.
4) Follow high-engaging followers
Not many people use this unique strategy but it is very effective. Find the top 20 popular accounts in your specific niche, or go to the recent posts when searching popular hashtags and follow all the people who engage with the content. Using this method, you can attract high-engaging followers to your account, which will enable your account to grow much more effectively.
5) Strategic shout-outs (S4S)
Find accounts in the same niche as you are and ask if they are interested in s4s or in other words shout-out for shout-out. By using the Instagram DM, Telegram or Kik apps, you can find many accounts in your specific niche. You can also make use of “powerlikes” from much larger accounts, if you build a solid relationship with the account owners of these 1m+ pages. Or you can offer to promote them on another platform, by leveraging your following on other networks.
White: In our conversation, you made it clear that brands can never ignore the massive potential for reach on the world’s largest social network, Facebook. You have created several Facebook pages that have developed massive followings and achieved millions of impressions each month. What advice would you give to those who are attempting to crack Facebook’s algorithm, but maybe haven’t had the success that you’ve had?
Isaacs: You’re right – Facebook is king, and there is no doubt brands and influencers alike should make the most of it. In addition to the points I mentioned earlier about the importance of building relationships and the traits of viral content, there are a number of unique aspects to Facebook and a number of strategies you can use to increase your organic reach, which will position your page well for growth:
1) Avoid posting links on posts and especially stay away from YouTube links. Facebook and YouTube are “at war,” and YouTube links can have an extremely low organic reach. Posting links, especially affiliate links, can have a detrimental effect on your page’s algorithm “EdgeRank.”
2) Stay on Facebook Live for at least 20 minutes a week. This can increase your page’s “EdgeRank,” meaning future posts will have a better chance of appearing high in newsfeeds. Facebook has already introduced stories to public figures and celebrities, so their followers can now watch their daily story. When Facebook eventually introduces stories for pages, I would recommend making the most of this feature too.
3) Join Share for Share groups and build relationships with significant pages and influencers. If large pages like Ladbible, Unilad, 9gag, Daily mail, and similar content creators in your niche are sharing or cross-promoting your content, your content reach is going to increase dramatically. One strategy to discover pages that share is to click on the profiles of people who are sharing your videos and see what other videos from other pages they’ve liked, commented on, and shared. Ultimately on Facebook, it all comes down to sharing. When publishing your content, you need to ask yourself, are people likely to share this?