Is the First Hour Enough to Predict Content Virality?

Guest post by Claire Schwimmer

Earlier this year, we found that the top 1% of content drives more than 80% of social referrals – making it important for you to identify content with the potential to jump into this top 1% and promote it.

So how do you find these winning pieces of content? Is success within the first hour of publication enough to predict the chance of viral success over its lifetime? We analyzed 50 million pieces of content across our entire network and found:

1.   High social traffic in the first hour is a good indicator of future success; however,
2.   Low social traffic in the first hour is not an indicator the content won’t do well overall.

Only 15% of all the content in the 90th percentile* for social referrals over its lifetime performed well enough in the first hour to be in the 90th percentile in that first hour. This means that 85 percent of the top pieces of content across our entire network were not successful in the first hour.

claire's blog media chart

Why should I care?

First, don’t get discouraged if something isn’t performing well in the first hour after you publish. There’s still a chance it’ll do well later. These findings also mean you need to produce a large volume of content to better your chances of finding one piece that will hit the top 1, 5, or even 10 percent of content – either immediately or later. And when you do find one of these, it’s important to take action as soon as possible to amplify its reach even further. You should:

  • Post the content to all of your affiliated Facebook pages
  • Tweet it from all of your affiliated accounts
  • Feature it on your homepage
  • Distribute it in your newsletters
  • Distribute it across any partner sites
We often see content trending that was published days, weeks, and sometimes years ago.

While seeing your content gain social traction within the first hour is instantly gratifying, it’s more important to monitor your content performance for the long term, recognize when social referrals increase, and jump on your content distribution strategy.

Attend my workshop on optimizing Facebook ads and get in the long game.


*Drove more social referrals than 90 percent of all content across SimpleReach’s network
About Claire Schwimmer

 Claire is a content strategist at SimpleReach trying to avoid becoming a hipster while living in Williamsburg.

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