Science Found Out What Makes Content Go Viral: Here’s What You Should Know
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Science Found Out What Makes Content Go Viral: Here’s What You Should Know

“We want to go viral,” is one request digital marketers frequently get from clients. But, viral content doesn’t magically happen; it’s a mixture of planets aligning with relevant nuggets of information and a sprinkle of drugged-up-seven-year-old on the way home from the dentist. The good news is that two scientists at the University of Pennsylvania noticed commonalities in viral content. They then conducted a study that tested eight core hypotheses based on three months of New York Times articles. They broke down viral content scientifically, so now you can work these findings into your content creation strategy. This is what they found:

  • Long, in-depth posts tend to go viral more than short ones. This is no surprise. Although people devour short posts, the concepts don’t often become shareable earworms. The longer you can keep someone’s attention the more likely they are to share your content.
  • Inspiring anger, awe or anxiety pushes posts into viral territory. In the same vein as long posts, posts that inspire the three A’s are likely to stick in a readers mind and incite a reaction. Most often a share. Commenting on hot-button issues with an informed angle can result in viral gold.
  • Vulnerability and emotional content is extremely sharable. Putting emotions on your page for the entire world to see can help your audience relate. If content is relatable and raw, people are more inclined to share as it can exemplify their feelings and experiences.
  • Viral content is surprising, interesting and practically useful. This finding falls into the, “No duh” category. Think about the things you share. Are they useful, surprising or interesting? Most of the time.
  • Well-known authors increase the likelihood of viral content. This finding boils down to credibility and reputation. If a reader knows the author is credible on the topic, they’re going to share it. Readers don’t need to do any more research to ensure their own credibility. Share the content. Drop the mic.
  • Content written by women is more likely to go viral. This one is interesting and may not be true for all content, but it was for the NYT.
  • Posts that spend a lot of time on the home page are more likely to go viral. Don’t bury your content. If you have a piece of information that you’re confident can get a lot of engagement, put it out there and leave it out there for the world to see.
  • Funny content is still king. Still, nothing can beat a hilarious or awkward moment captured on camera.

While you can never really ensure that content will go viral, paying attention to this tested science can certainly increase your chance. If you’re posting genuine, quality content that speaks to your clientele on an emotional level, you may just have a viral piece on your hands. So, share it! And, call our content team at Black Tie Digital Marketing if you have any questions about crafting a content strategy.