In Content Marketing Institute's Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report for 2016, they found that 65% of B2B marketers don't know what content is and isn't effective. Despite that,76% plan to produce more content this year.

Can you imagine what content on the web would look like if everyone knew how to generate perfect, epic content 100% of the time that consistently went viral?

I imagine it's a bit like using a highlighter--if everything is highlighted then nothing is highlighted.

If everything were to be shared and consumed to great excess, would anything really be viral?

We're not likely to hit that point, which makes it that much more important to understand the factors that make for epic content; content that is far more likely to be consumed and shared by your preferred audience.

It's impossible to guarantee content goes viral, but you can get a lot closer if you include the right components in your content marketing.

Viral content is packed with real value

Value doesn't necessarily mean educational. You don't have to teach people something every time you write a blog post or put a video together. You just have to provide a valuable takeaway. That might be a lesson learned, inspiration or motivation, an emotional takeaway, or something as simple as making your audience laugh.

Value is kind of a subjective thing, so it's hard to nail it for your entire audience.

A motivational message is only going to be valuable to a portion of your audience who needs to see it in the moment, in the context of their life.

A humorous piece will have more value to people who have a sense of humor that aligns with the context of the funny content. It might be lost on others, or even offend some.

The value you pack into your content will connect you with the right people, which will produce engagement including comments and social activity, backlinks, citations, and quotes.

It's created using accurate data

There's a mess of content out there that you're competing with, all trying to grab the attention of the same audience for various reasons.

More than 2.5 million blog posts are published daily, but a lot of that content is lower quality conjecture that's not supported by fact, data, research or case studies. Your audience can see through that.

They want to share great content, but they need to know it can be trusted.

The best content, the 10x stuff that gets the most shares, is packed with big data and accurate insights. That's the competitive edge you can give to your content when you're producing it. You can vastly improve your chances of content going viral when you incorporate big data.

Tim Waddell of Adobe said that,

One of the reasons why you need big data and analytical strategy is to equip your organization to have cross-channel conversations.

That's the essence of building a business, and growing your following both on and offline. It builds the channels in which people communicate with you because they know they're getting the right answers, the best advice, and they can trust what they're consuming.

There's no shortage of data on the web, and you need to leverage that to add authority to your content and improve the odds of it going viral.

Success comes from long form content

While it's possible to produce valuable written content that's short and quick to digest, it's not common. Not everyone wields a blog like Seth Godin; his characteristically short blog posts are more like an art form leaving a lot to perspective and interpretation while still packing a lot of value.

In many cases, you'll find the most popular pieces of content tend to be 800+ words - sometimes reaching as many as 3,000 words or more.

Buzzsumo analyzed 100 million articles to pinpoint what made them so powerful, and why they carried such high search visibility. In the study they found that the average content length of the top listed and most shared content contained 2,000 words or more.

Of course have high word count content also have the additional benefit of ranking for more long tails keywords, which in turn will give you more organic traffic assuming your blog is already have a proper on page SEO optimized. You can use tools such as OnPage to check what you need to work on to optimized your blog.

The same idea applies to content in other forms; video can be produced in as little as 6-10 seconds (think Vine and Snapchat) that offer great value.

Much of the video content with highly valuable takeaways though is much longer. This includes webinars, interviews, and whiteboard style content which can range from 10 minutes up to an hour.

Viral content grabs attention with images

Simply put, images work better at getting people to engage. They capture and hold attention around what is otherwise a wall of text. It's why infographics do so well and are frequently shared among their respective industries.

According to Buzzsumo, infographics generate 2.3X more shares than a typical how-to post. Likewise, content created with relevant images gets 94% more views online than content without.

73% of content creators plan to prioritize creating more engaging content in 2016, and 55% plan to prioritize creating more visual content. If you want to improve your chances of content going viral you'll need to make this a part of your content marketing strategy in order to stay more competitive and capture the attention of your audience.

Have you had success using any of these factors in your content creation?