I have a strong disdain for the word “viral.” It gets thrown around so much to the point where it no longer really means anything and is just another buzzword that “techie people” like to use.
That’s why I’m making my own definition of what the word “viral” means.
Viral (content): Definition. A piece of content which outperforms similar posts by a minimum of 10x (measured in unique visits) without paying for any of that traffic (must be organic)
Now that that’s out of the way let’s take a look at how certain quizzes go viral (according to my definition).
To unfold what causes some quizzes to become so popular while others only see a few visits, we compiled an excel spreadsheet of 1500 quizzes created using Interact and then did some clever things to find common traits among the most popular ones.
Here’s what we found.
Part 1: Naming the quiz
Which (blank) are you?
Nearly 50% of viral quizzes (according to my definition of viral), that are created using Interact are of this title type. It works for anything, from Books to Food products, and is a title that tap into our natural desire to know more about ourselves.
The example below was created by a content site that focuses on military happenings. Their quiz about which hero you are took off, getting 88,000 views, and because it got so popular the quiz now ranks in search engines and gets consistent traffic.
To use this quiz title. Focus on what interests your customers. If it’s technology then tell people what kind of smartphone they are, if it’s fashion then tell people which style icon they are. Find what interests the people who engage with your brand and write a quiz for them.
How much do you actually know about?
This quiz title accounts for another 25% of all viral quizzes built with Interact. It’s a compelling type of title because the quiz presents itself as a challenge, and we all like challenges (especially when you can take the challenge in five minutes online).
Take for example the quiz below “How much do you know about Iran?” that touches on a touchy subject. We hear about Iran and the Middle East in general a lot in the news but do we really know anything concrete about that place? The result was 7000+ views for a quiz created by an awesome non-profit organization supporting social entrepreneurs in Iran.
To use this title type. Start with what you know. Namely, what your main industry is. For Berim, the non-profit behind the Iran quiz, is was easy because they focus on one country in particular. For others it’s not as easy, but think about the questions you receive the most and use those to formulate the subject for your quiz of this type.
Part 2: Writing the questions
We found a strong correlation between the number of personal pronouns (I, you, we, etc.) used in quiz questions and the number of views those quizzes got. In other words, when we speak naturally like we would to a friend within a quiz, it does better.
One quiz creator who has consistently created viral quizzes is Food52.com. A part of the reason for their success is the natural style in which the questions are written. Because each quiz feels personal and conversational, their quizzes end up with very personal and conversational sharers who appreciate the jovial tone of the quiz.
How to do this. This one is like philosophy class, there is no right answer. What I can tell you is to relax and write like you are tipsy (actually being tipsy is optional). Remember that quizzes are a one-on-one medium, not a mass broadcast to an audience. Speak like you would to a friend over drinks.
Design does matter
But not in the way you think. One problem I see people making is obsessing over how to make their quiz look amazing so it’ll get lots of views. In reality less is more when it comes to design. Yes, you want the quiz to match your site’s overall styling, and yes it shouldn’t have clashing colors that make you look ridiculous, but you also want to take it easy on too much flare.
Take the quiz question below from Simon and Schuster for example. The design is pretty basic, there’s not really a lot going on, yet it looks great and is very appealing to the eyes. The picture is relevant to the question being asked, the answers are short and symmetrical, and the background matches the image while complimenting the answer choice color well.
How to do design. If you don’t have a designer, here is a guide to basic color patterns and the affect they have on us. If you plan on running multiple quizzes I’d recommend getting a designer, and you can email us your designs, we’d be happy to take a look.
Images are more clickable
On twitter, image posts get 18% more clicks than non-image ones, and that discrepancy carries through most of the major social networks. Pictures are just more click-able in general, that’s science. Looking through Interact again, we found that a full 75% of viral quizzes (remember viral means 10x normal traffic), have image questions (where each answer choice is an image).
Take a look at the question below, which is pulled from a quiz made by The Kansas City Public Library (yay for government institutions who have fun!). This question is made more vibrant and really draws you in by putting an image to to each answer choice instead of just text.
How to do this. Relevance. I don’t care how cool your custom graphics are, only use pictures that actually show what you’re talking about. You don’t need to be fancy here, actual pictures are great. That being said, use good pictures, here’s a list of places to get good pictures. Also, make sure to follow the sizing guidelines for your image questions, if you put six massive images on a page, it won’t load quickly, that’s also science.
Part 3: Using quizzes for lead generation
Let me explain this one a bit. Interact quizzes are set up to have the option where you can put a lead capture box between the questions of a quiz and the results. When each person finishes taking the quiz you can present a targeted opt-in offer and then show the results (it’s a lead capture gate). This can work amazingly well (with opt-in rates over 50%), but it can also ruin a quiz if it’s not done right.
Make the call to action contextually relevant
With a quiz you get the opportunity to present an offer that is relevant to the exact content you are currently looking at, this can be super helpful if done right or not help at all if you screw it up.
It’s not very complicated, all you have to do is reference the subject of your quiz in the call-to-action text and reassure people that they will only receive information that’s related to the quiz and not your generic newsletter.
Take a look at this lead gate from Booker.com for example. Their quiz talks about holiday decorations and marketing for small businesses, and this call to action says they will send you a holiday guide – makes sense to me, and that’s all you have to do.
How to do this. Just reference the subject of your quiz in the call to action. It doesn’t need to be in-your-face or anything, but make sure that people know your email blasts will match up with what they’re interested in.
Have a compelling offer
A quiz lead gate has the built-in draw that the email capture comes before the quiz results. That alone is enough to get opt-ins in many cases, but it’s always good to have a one-two punch setup.
Take for example this lead gate from Gemalto. They start out by telling you to enter your email to see the quiz results, but then they also tell you about a challenge you can enter by signing up. Many times this sub-text and second offer is just as important as the initial call-to-action draw, and this lead capture form does a good job of having a follow-up offer.
How to do this. Your second offer should reference the subject of your quiz, just like the first. It can be a free giveaway, or a contest like Gemalto did, or even just an e-subscription to a relevant newsletter. The key is knowing which of these offers work. If you have data on what works from a different part of your site, use that, or A/B test a couple of different offers to optimize.
Part 4: Crafting results
75% of tweets sent out from the results page of quizzes contain positive trigger words (things like great, awesome, excellent, so on and so forth). Quizzes that having something good to say get shared the most and thus go viral more.
One of my personal favorite examples of being uplifting comes from AITA, a truckers’ association. Their quiz tells you what type of big-rig you are. Now nothing against big-rigs, but they are big and heavy and noisy, not great attributes for a person. However, AITA does a great job of making each quiz result very positive without being dishonest.
How to do this. Focus on the positive and avoid the negative. Notice in the quiz description for the Mack truck that most of the talk is about being professional and reliable, leaving out anything about being big and slow. Think about the good and forget the bad when writing quiz results.
Follow up with targeted links
When a quiz taker gets to their result, you have an extremely interested audience. They’ve just told you personal information and you are now doling out a personality type of assessment of their knowledge that’s very, well, personal.
A little bit of text and a picture isn’t enough to satisfy everyone’s curiosity, and having a lot of text in your quiz results is off-putting. That’s why it works best to have targeted links for each quiz result that lead to external pages where quiz takers can learn more about their results.
Take a look at the example below from Food52. They told me I was a certain kind of snack food and then included a link to a recipe for that snack food on their own domain. That way when the quiz goes viral the traffic will come back to them in a very pinpointed way.
How to do this. There are two ways to provide targeted links. The first way is to work backwards and start with some articles you’d like to highlight and use those to create your quiz results (for example, Food52 could start with several recipes, make the recipes the quiz results, and craft an entire quiz around that). The second way is to insert the links after the fact to articles that provide more information about each quiz result.
Part 5: Optimizing to be shared.
Have a closed loop, as shown in the simple triangle diagram below. You can’t afford to lose any of the traffic that your awesome quiz gets, so don’t.
How to do this. First, create a quiz, then, embed it into your website (quizzes embed just like YouTube videos), finally, use Interact to set up the quiz so that social shares point back to your webpage where the quiz is embedded. That’s a closed loop, you won’t risk losing traffic to Facebook or Twitter, or Interact.
That’s it, now you know how to make a viral quiz (by my definition of viral). I tried to focus on lesser-known brands in this tutorial to show you that really anyone can create a quiz that performs very well, that’s the power of social media combined with the virality of quizzes.
To make a quiz of your own, head to tryinteract.com to try it for free