What Makes Content Go Viral?

Favorites Apr 02, 2012 No Comments

What Makes Content Go Viral?

By Ruth Michel

Have you ever been ordered to create a viral video or blog post? Easier said than done. “If I knew how I would’ve already,” you might think.

In reality, we should incorporate viral elements into our content on an ongoing basis. Let’s consider what those elements look like:

Keep it short.

We have the attention span of a gnat. If people are going to digest your stuff in the first place, then it needs to be short and concise. This also increases the likelihood they will share it. According to a Mashable infographic, social video ads of 15 seconds or less are shared nearly 37 percent more than those between 30 and 60 seconds and 18 percent more than videos over 60 seconds. No one wants to watch a 17 minute video as they’re scrolling through their Facebook Feed.

Make it good.

It can’t be grammatically appalling, pixelated, ugly, boring, disorganized or broken. Those things will disqualify your content, even if it is promising. Yet people expect a degree of quality, and you need to deliver something unexpected. Your content needs a remarkable quality, something that makes it stick out and worth sharing.

This quality can be humor. We all laughed when Charlie bit his brother’s finger. It might be shock, like that old video of a vehicle driving through a mellow green valley that suddenly produces a scary looking creature. (I jumped.) Nike used disbelief as Kobe Bryant jumped over an in-motion Ashton Martin, and Obama made people feel important as they voiced their opinions. It could be beautiful, mysterious, so-obvious-it’s-genius, revolutionary, beneficial (did I hear free?) or heart-string-pulling. It just needs to be irresistible.

Make it unique.

This is a no-brainer. If it’s already been done, then the sharing and viewing of your content will be split among everyone else’s similar content. It’s true that some content will actually be picked up more rapidly because it’s not alone. Remember when everyone had a YouTube video of Beyonce’s Single Ladies? However, only the extra special dancers and singers went viral. Think of what is currently relevant or timeless and take a never-before-seen spin on it.

Give it to opinion leaders.

All it takes is for the right person to share your photograph or article. If you have six Twitter followers and 14 Facebook Friends, then it’s unlikely your post will be widely seen. But if Tim Tebow says your infographic is “sweet,” then the floodgates will open. Networking is an essential aspect of viral lift.

What qualities has your most successful content had?

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