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Viral marketing and building a social media following are common initiatives among startups and established businesses alike. Every executive and entrepreneur thinks they need to create a viral piece of content and get extremely lucky to win viral publicity. But if that’s your strategy, you have little chance of success. Instead, ride an already existing viral wave.

Don’t just create content and hope it goes viral. Use content that has proven to be viral and then post it to your website and social media accounts to gain web traffic and followers. For this to work, you need to have established social media profiles. You don’t need to have a hundred thousand followers, but you do need real followers who are related to your niche.

1. Create social media accounts.

The first step is having company social media accounts across major social channels that pertain to your target market. These may include LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Reddit. These social media channels are all high-authority websites that help your company rank high in search engines. The more content you post on social media that receives shares, likes and comments, the higher your company’s SEO ranking will climb.

2. Identify your customers.

Your dream customers are already online and are most likely following the top leaders in your niche. Tap into that audience and redirect them to become focused on your offerings. For example, if your niche is B2B sales consulting, figure out where that audience is online now. Make a list of all the B2B sales leaders like Grant Cardone, John Barrows, Jeffrey Gitomer, Jay Abraham and Tony Robbins.

3. Follow your competitors’ audience.

Once you have identified who your dream customers are, the next step is to engage them. Follow your indirect and direct competitors’ audiences on social media. Spend some time identifying power followers — followers with their own audiences of over 2000. Apply this strategy across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. This works well because if you’re in the same niche as the accounts they are currently following, there is a good chance they will want to follow you as well. These power followers tend to look at their audiences carefully as they build their networks. Your goal should be to spend 30 days adding at least 200 people on each social channel until you follow a few thousand people. Once you’ve done this, you should see at least a couple thousand people on each one of your social media accounts now following you in return.

4. Leverage existing viral content.

This step will start to throw fuel on the fire with your social media following and help you generate a ton of traffic to your website. Identify existing viral content related to your niche. One way to do this is with news stories. Just go to Google News and type in your niche in the search bar to find stories that are gaining traction. Look for a story with an eye-catching headline. You can also go to YouTube and search for viral videos in your niche. Once you have found a relevant viral video, copy the YouTube link, post it to your blog, add an image and a description and then post it on all your social media channels.

5. Tweak the viral content. 

If you find a news story that is going viral and getting a lot of social media shares, leverage it. Write a new article on the same subject with an even more eye-catching headline. You can add an exciting image as well. Then post your new “viral content” on your website. Apply the same strategy with existing viral videos. Simply create a new piece of content and plug in that existing viral video in your post.

6. Post content on your social channels.

Remember when I told you to find and follow people in your niche? Now, this is when you’re going to start seeing some amazing results. Because you now have targeted content that is relevant to your niche, people will start to share it, like it, comment on it and go to your website. Every time someone interacts with your content on social media, it creates a unique backlink to your website. This is a great way to boost your SEO ranking and will help you gain customers for free.

You can get free traffic, brand awareness and customers by leveraging content that has already proved to be viral. You don’t need to create a customer base — you need to find your customer base. Your customer base likely already exists and you can find them on social channels. If you can gain their attention with relevant content, there is a good chance they will be interested in what you’re selling.

Source: Starting From Scratch: The Simple Guide To Social Media And SEO Success