How to Predict Which Stories Will Succeed on Social

February 27, 2017

Written by NewsWhip
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What if you could tell the future and know which stories would be a hit before you write them? We go over three ways to predict content virality. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if all of our stories became instant social media hits, granting us instant virality that even the ‘Cash Me Outside’ girl would be jealous of?

Of course, we want to have stronger staying power than any meme du jour. But how? Well, luckily, with a little research and some help from machine learning, it’s easier than ever to have a crystal ball into content wins.

1. Know your audience

How can you be the definitive source to what your audience wants? In 2017, it’s more important than ever to be credible and accessible to your readers. What value are you delivering to their daily digest?

Last week, NASA announced the discovery of seven Earth-like planets. We were lucky enough to snap a picture of the coverage taking off in Spike’s Predicted Interaction view.

Spike NASA 7 planets

Stories about the discovery dominated the three-hour view of predicted interactions in Spike.

Many publishers covered the story, adding their own touch to it. Google soon released a Google doodle in honor of the discovery, appealing to the whimsy that users have come to expect from the brand over the years.

NASA google doodle

Other publishers also put their own spin on their coverage. Complex Magazine cited alien life in its headline and the visually-focused 9gag shared NASA’s retro travel posters for the new solar system.

https://www.facebook.com/complex/posts/10155326568979367 

Simply knowing your audience isn’t the only way to ensure stories that make an impact.

2. Pay attention to trends and shifts

Sure, knowing the latest meme could be a clever way to be topical, but that’s not going to continually draw your audience’s attention. You have to be willing to evolve with storytelling trends. 

For example, when we looked at top travel publishers on Facebook last year, there was one that was driving enormous engagement on their video content compared to the others. INSIDER travel was creating upbeat and fun videos that mimicked the likes of NowThis and BuzzFeed’s viral videos. 

https://www.facebook.com/thisisinsidertravel/videos/1791547604505734/ 

This video from Insider Travel has driven over 7 million views and 133,000 total engagements. It’s square (good for mobile viewers), captioned (can be watched without sound), action-packed, and short.

It’s important to not only know what’s working in your industry, but what’s creating best practices across all verticals.

Different best practices vary across platforms such as Instagram vs. Facebook, and down to as niche aspects as which headlines work. When we looked at top headlines in 2015 against 2017, there was a definitive shift toward harder news and less clickbait topics. 

By keeping a pulse on all of the moving parts that are capturing attention on a broad scale, you’ll be several steps ahead already.

3. Embrace the data

As we showed before, we can rank stories by their predicted social interactions in Spike. This content intelligence can clue us in on stories and topics with a high likelihood of getting engagement.

NewsWhip 30 minute predicted interactions Spike

As we mentioned before, we can sort stories by their predicted interactions in NewsWhip Spike. Above is a view of stories published in the last 30 minutes that are predicted to have the most engagements in two hours. 

With today’s tumultuous political climate, these stories dominate social engagements. But as we said, it’s critical to understand what your audience will engage with, and find those stories. One way to do this is by drilling down into Spike’s locations and topics to find the relevant stories for your readers.

Spike NewsWhip Oscars Facebook Predictive Interactions

Above are the stories with the most predicted interactions in our Life category that were published within an hour. These stories may appeal more to readers of soft news publications. 

We can dig down deeper across keywords, subcategories, or specific publishers and blogs to really uncover the stories that will hit it big with audiences.

Predicting which stories go viral is a combination of knowing your audience, the evolving trends in storytelling, and a little help from the data to find out what those stories should be. Armed with this knowledge, your stories have a higher chance of success before you even publish.

Get started discovering the best content for your audience with Spike

 

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