One of the biggest goals of any online content creator is for their content to go viral. Many people end up learning, however, that?there’s no secret formula to go viral, although there are a collection of important factors. Scientists have been able to pinpoint at least four reasons why content goes viral based on the following theories associated with?the heart, mind, eye and body.
Recently, my friends at QSample put this Infographic Together and I decided to do a riff on it.
One of the top ingredients for content to go viral is that it has to connect with people emotionally. Videos, articles, blogs and social media posts can go viral if presented in a way that resonates with a broadonline following. Research is showing that web content that evokes positive?emotions is more likely to go viral than “negative content,” according to a Fast Company article.
The research also suggests that upbeat or angry emotions?yield more viral results than neutral or?sad emotions. In other words, strong emotions are what internet users are looking to share with their friends. Most people are not looking to share average content, as they often use Facebook to share articles that reflect their own identity or mood. Since the masses already love animals, it’s no surprise that pets are often the stars of viral videos, especially when exhibiting unusual behavior that triggers smiles and laughter.
Sharing Mental Images
People tend to share what’s on their immediate mind, according to author Jonah Berger of the book Contagious: Why Things Catch On. As an assistant professor of marketing at the Wharton School of Business, Berger explains the nature of how top of mind awareness relates to?word of mouth communication. Many times it’s driven by a “trigger” or reminder from a source such as a television commercial.
Triggers can also be events such as “Throwback Thursday” on Facebook, in which many people post pictures of their past. Childhood pictures that tell humorous stories sometimes?go viral. The visuals need?to stand out as sharp, colorful and instantly appealing. Pictures need?to tell emotional stories on their own that capture people’s attention. Action in the picture should be begging for a response.
Skim-Friendly Visual Content
It’s important for content to be easily skimmed, since that’s the way most people consume online content. Readers usually only read a small percentage of an article before deciding if they want to share it on social media. Text must be appealing to the eye and not look like long complex paragraphs. The content needs to paint a visual image quickly in order to hold the average viewer’s attention.
In a sense, the packaging of web content is just an important as the substance of the story. Visual presentation is a big factor in how social media users decide what to pay attention to in their news feeds. People simply don’t have enough time to read all the content on their news feeds and naturally gravitate toward visual content.Videos are expected to continue gaining popularity among internet consumers, according to a Cisco white paper, as video will dominate online activity by 2017.
Compelling Useful Content
A study by the University of Pennsylvania on viral content found that informative, educational, practical, interesting and surprising stories have the best chance to make the New York Times’ most emailed list. Ironically, expert articles are less likely to go viral partly due to being more niche-oriented. Viral content tends to be something that can be understood and appreciated by the entire online community.
Sometimes the weather can play a role in the types of content people feel like consuming for a particular day. Cloudy days, for example, might inspire sharing more positive content. Online communities have team spirits and can be rallied by strong emotions. Sometimes viral content can be completely out-of-the-box.
8 Easy Tips to Go Viral
- Tell a unique story that is?useful or entertaining
- Make the content unpredictable
- Avoid imitating traditional television commercials
- Use natural, animated energy
- Make different versions and sequels of your content
- Do not restrict access or require users to register
- Give followers an incentive to share the content
- Share your content with well known bloggers
What Never Goes Viral
Learning what never goes viral is an extra way to see the big picture of what separates the special content from the uneventful content. Low energy videos with poor audio quality are almost guaranteed to not get much online attention. Articles and blogs that repeat the same information found in popular publications have no reason to generate a frenzy.
Finally, videos that try to jump on trends usually end up getting uploaded too late and are not viewed as original. The best viral content gets shared because it’s worth sharing and has value in spreading emotion or knowledge.