There are thousands of posts on how to create viral content (aka link bait). Most of these posts do not outline how they promote their viral content. When I first started relying on viral content I thought that if I built it well enough and quickly submitted it to several different sites it would magically take off and garner all kinds of back links.
Some content goes viral all by itself without any promotion, like my cousin-in-law's youtube videos of her dog that has brought millions of views. If that happens, congratulations. But for the most part, link bait and viral content is as much about promotion as it is creation.
With that in mind, here are three ways to jump start your viral content...
#1 Build a loyal following in a social community
In the days when Digg was still a relevant social media site, Digg power users had the unique ability to send thousands of interested visitors to a site or bury it into obscurity. Power users had hundreds of followers and would send out notices to digg their stories.
Since that time, many of Digg's users have moved elsewhere to more focused sites or more social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+. But if your site is a left leaning political site or a techie site you can still get some good traffic from Digg.
Once you find the social media site that really matches your niche, you will want to spend several months making friends at the site. Forget about promoting your content and spend most of your time on the site interacting with other like minded individuals and engaging them on their stuff. You will be amazed at how much easier it will be to promote your viral content with folks who truly believe you are interested in them.
I like to create a Skype group or instant message list for specific social sites so I can chat and share with them on a regular basis. This makes it easier to ask for favors like voting or sharing a story.
#2 Use Microworkers.com or Mturk.com to like, bookmark, and tweet your viral content
People like to follow other people. If someone visits your viral content and sees that it is receiving Tweets and Facebook likes, they are more apt to participate. Sites like Microworkers.com or Mturk allow you to pay workers a small amount of money to promote your content to their Twitter followers and Facebook friends.
The best way to take advantage of these workers is to give them a ton of flexibility. Many of them regularly use social media sites for fun anyway, so if you simply ask them to bookmark your store any way they want you will find that your content performs much better.
It can have a snowball affect and build into a truly natural campaign if your content is good. Be careful not to to ask for Digg or Reddit votes as this could get your site banned.
Make sure to include the social media buttons in your post so it is easy for visitors to bookmark any way they want too.
#3 Link build to your viral content
Most people assume that viral content is like a shooting star that flares across the sky in a ray of brilliance and then disappears quickly. Some of the best viral link bait I have created has built up slowly over time. This is especially true for guides, tutorials, and tools.
Simply start link building directly to your viral content. You will start getting search traffic, social media trafic, and site referrals. Over time, the content should start attracting links from sources outside of your link building efforts, which is the desired effect.
Guest blogging is a particularly effective method of promoting viral content because it provides a link, plus click throughs from readers who are interested in your niche. The key is to write posts that are directly related to your viral content so it is a smooth transition for readers to your site.