Viral Marketing Tips: Getting Others to Tout Your White Paper Online

by Jonathan Kantor

The goal of every social media marketer is to get your content to “go viral”–in other words, to be blogged about, forwarded, Retweeted, or referenced in an online forum or wiki. The more people who hear about your content, the more widely known you will become, and the more followers and more business leads you will attract.

White papers are great fodder for a viral marketing campaign. But how can you increase the chance that your white paper will go viral and provide you with the ultimate rewards of social marketing?

Here are some pointers you might want to consider.

1. Create fresh, new and appealing content

An important part of going viral is to provide fresh new content that has not been seen or discussed previously. The more “buzz” you can create, the greater the viral opportunities.

That becomes a little more difficult when your white paper addresses a well-worn issue such as “supply chain best practices.” But if viral marketing is your primary goal, you need to plan your white paper content specifically for this objective.

Some content ideas might be:
• The results of a recent customer survey–including charts or graphs–that reach a compelling conclusion and appeal to a large audience of current or prospective customers.
• An industry-wide competitive analysis that illustrates a change of direction for the industry.
• A “come-from-behind” case study that represents a wide swath of customers and presents an achievable methodology for business success.
• An official response to an industry-specific news story–especially if you have a different viewpoint than the industry norm.
Be sure to include elements such as clear sidebar callouts/pull quotes, charts and concept graphics that make it easy for others to see the clear bottom-line points.

2. Create a provocative title

White-bread titles that include words such as “Best Practices” or a name brand diminish your viral opportunities.

Compelling titles such as “New Study Shows Dramatic _____” or “X Things You Didn’t Know about _____” will boost your odds of going viral. The more your title describes “what’s in it for me”, the better the viral opportunities.

Equally important is keeping your title professional. Understand that your target audience is made up of business executives and decision-makers. You should avoid titles that include provocative words, slang or the suggestion of swearing.

Titles such as, “How the Competitor Next Door is Getting Ready to Kick Your A**: Why It’s Time to Get Real About Mobile Marketing” will only result in negativity and risk harming your business brand and marketing objectives.

3. Pre-plan your viral launch

When something goes viral, it happens quickly. Rarely does any six-month-old news story go viral. Before you finish your white paper, you should be planning your viral campaign so it can be launched as soon as your white paper is ready for distribution.

Some ideas in this area include:

• Leverage internal resources–Get friends, business partners and employees to Tweet, Retweet, Facebook and blog about your white paper with links to its landing page.
• Keep it simple–Remove as many registration requirements as possible. Distributing a white paper without registration often yields the best results. But if you must use registration, only ask for a first and last name and e-mail address to download the white paper.
• Get other credible sources to write about it–Contact industry-specific blogs and news sources to inquire if they would like to include an article about your white paper or industry research. The greater the mentions, the higher the viral potential.

With a little planning and effort, you can increase the chances that your white paper will go viral, gain much more exposure and generate better results.

Why not try it on your next white paper?

About the Author: Jonathan Kantor is a 14 year white paper marketing veteran. He’s is the author of the widely acclaimed book, Crafting White Paper 2.0, and the founder of The White Paper Company and the White Paper Pundit blog.