What Makes Some Content Go Viral?


Ever wondered why some content is widely shared and some hardly makes any impact at all?  It’s about more than just putting together a great piece of content; you stand a much better chance of going viral if you can really tap into certain emotions and make your readers feel compelled to share your content as a result of this. Not sure how this works? In this post, we’re looking at what encourages a particular piece of content to be widely shared.

What Is “Viral”?

What exactly constitutes “viral” content? You might assume that this means racking up millions of views but this isn’t necessarily the case. In many cases, a blog post or infographic that gets thousands of views or shares can be seen as “viral”.

Why Content Goes Viral

For the most part, viral content shares some important features that make mass sharing much more likely. This includes:

Pushing Emotional Buttons

Highly shareable content has the ability to make people feel strong emotions. Positive feelings of awe and amusement can work well but don’t be afraid to also target more negative emotions such as anger and fear (of being wrong or left behind, for example). Essentially, viral content has to make your audience care enough to want to share it more widely. This can be achieved through a highly controversial, for example.

Offering In Depth Analysis

With mobile set to become an even bigger trend in 2015, you could be forgiven for thinking that shorter content is the way to go. In fact, the opposite seems to be true. The University of Pennsylvania examined popular content from the New York Times and discovered that longer pieces were shared more frequently than their shorter counterparts.

BuzzSumo took this a step further with a  detailed look at the most shared pieces of content from around the web and found that long form content with lots of depth and analysis is much more likely to go viral in general.

Most marketers are still focusing on mobile-friendly content that is quicker and easier to write, which means that there is less competition for creating viral-worthy long form pieces.

Listing the Optimum Number of Items

Lists have potential for going viral but a lot will depend on how many items are included. Research has suggested that 10 is the optimum number to go for but above that, 23 is your next best bet.

Long form content that engages your readers and inspires strong emotions will help to increase its potential for being widely shared, especially if it is of high quality. For the bulk of your content marketing though, don’t forget the golden rule of being useful for your audience