Ultimately how much you spread your content virally is largely determined by whether this is something that your client has asked you for and whether it has been budgeted for. The simple reason for this is that the days when you could publish a story with the right key words and expect mega traffic have gone for good. The web is too crowded and busy for that.
This is especially true for video content. There have been some horrendous examples in the past of brands who have spent a lot of money creating high-end video only to put the footage on YouTube and then be completely baffled when the number of viewers is in the tens rather than the thousands.
It is also true for competitions where brands and agencies have created contests and only ever received a handful of entries.
The key thing to remember is that if you are expected to get a lot of views and reads for your content you and the brand must firstly work out a strategy and secondly budget for funding its implementation.
What that strategy is depends largely on the type of content that you have created and the number of views you are expected to achieve.
Here then are three options that you can explore.
1. Viral agencies
If you have a video that you want to be seen by as many people as possible one option is to use a viral agency like Rubber Republic or Unruly Media. Essentially these take the video content you have created and then embed the video on the sites and blogs on its books. The sites are then paid each time someone watches a video. In most agencies the publisher will agree a set price for a number of views with the viral agency before the process begins. The downside is that the sites displaying the video might not be relevant and have the audience that you want for your content. Most agencies will give a list of its sites in different verticals for you to look at before you commit.
If you want to attract lots of views to an article or competition then it may be worth talking to a content discovery agency like Outbrain or nRelate (which is now owned by mega media corporation IAC). These take your stories and publish a link to them as part of widget that invariably sits under the content on blogs and websites. The theory is that when a person has finished reading the content they might see your story underneath and click on it. As a marketeer you pay for this on a cost per click basis, so you pay each time someone lands on your page or site. Outbrain is very simple to set up and use and you can control how much you are spending by integrating a daily cap.
Once again you don't have a huge amount of control over the places where your content is seen, but Outbrain is clearly a very useful tool in distributing content.
2. Online PR
If you are keen to get a link to your story on a specific site - or sites in specific channels - then you might want to work with a blogger or PR agency.
You can of course just approach bloggers directly, but bear in mind that the popular ones are constantly bombarded with stories from PRs and very few of those stories end up on their sites. A guaranteed way of ensuring coverage is to pay for sponsored posts. If what you are trying to promote is aimed at a young female demographic for example, you could talk to Glam Media and Handpicked Media both of whom will help you distribute your content on their network of blogs and websites. How much you pay per site can vary from as little as £30 through to £500 - much depends on the nature of site and its traffic.
Another option is to work to drive traffic to the content using social media. However unless you have a very high profile brand and a concept that is viral in the first place it can be very time consuming building up likes on Facebook and followers on Twitter. You need to either factor in someone's time to spend as a community manager, or have a smaller role for them and build up the likes and followers using paid for advertising.
3. Paid for advertising on social networks
This is an especially good option if you are promoting a competition and already have social media pages to support your project/client.
For example Facebook advertising is simple to use and you can be ultra specific about the people you target. You can also pay on cost per click basis and this can be anything from 10p through to £1.50 depending on what you are promoting. Facebook ads tend to work well for competitions, and even better if that contest is on Facebook.
Google Ad Words are also easy to set up and they work by putting your ad next to content that users are searching for. Similar to Facebook they operate on cost per click basis and you can also set a maximum amount of money that you want to spend each day. If it is a video you could also consider advertising on YouTube.
Whereas once brands and agencies spent big on employing SEO agencies to ensure that people found their content, now they are more likely to focus on advertising whether it be via social networks or using content discovery engines. Recent research from Deloitte highlights that there is already a digital divide in the online population between the over 25's who are "search-first" in their internet usage and the under 24's, who are "social first". This has huge implications and any strategy must take this into account.