Nowadays, with the popularity of the Internet at an all-time high, the question on everyone’s mind is, “what exactly makes something go viral?”
We wish we could serve you up an easy-to-digest answer, but we can’t. Truthfully, no one can. Silver lining –despite the undiscovered formula for viral content, theories have been crafted based on in-depth research and personal experience.
Let’s take cats for example. Can you remember the last time you went online and didn’t see a post involving a cat? Cats have taken over the Internet by storm. They’re on your Facebook, Twitter, BuzzFeed, Pinterest – you name it.
“According to research conducted by the British mobile network Three, more than 350,000 cat owners have created an account for their pet on Facebook, Twitter, or other social networks, “ reported Linkbird. On top of that, Digital Sherpa found that people searched “Cat” 30,400,000 times per month. Why exactly are cats so contagious? What is it about cats that go viral?
First, why do people want something to go viral? This answer is plain and simple, Ca-Ching!
In the words of the infamous Snoop Dog, “with my mind on my money and my money on my mind.” With viral content comes fame and fortune. It’s likely one of the easiest, fastest and definitely the cheapest way to become a wealthy celebrity overnight.
For example, Grumpy Cat. This cat became an overnight Internet celebrity after her owner, Tabatha Bundesen, posted a picture of her 2-year-old cat to Reddit. Its face looks permanently grumpy because of its feline dwarfism, coining the name Grumpy Cat. It even went on to be on the cover of The Wall Street Journal and New York magazine. Today, Grumpy Cat’s net worth is estimated at $100 million.
Cats go viral because they meet all or majority of the criteria that researchers have defined as necessary for virality. One set of criteria for interesting and sharable online content is TIP CUP…
This skims the surface as to why cats are contagious on the Internet, but there are many more in-depth theories that you can apply to the Internet cats phenomenon.
One of those theories was developed by author of The New York Times bestseller, “Contagious,” Jonah Berger. Berger suggests there are six principles content must possess that lead to something going viral: Social Currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value and Stories.
Alongside Berger’s theory is a 2010 study, reported by The Guardian, of The New York Times “most emailed” list that suggests viral content, that may or may not posses Berger’s six principles, fall into these four categories:
When comparing Berger’s principles and The New York Times study, we can conclude that inducing an emotional response from viewers or readers is a key variable in virality. Jonah Berger went on to do a study with Katy Milkman, addressing our question, “What Makes Online Content Go Viral?” As reported by Social Triggers, these two found three key trends among all the viral content they studied:
What can we conclude from these three well-researched ideas? Well…a lot.
First and foremost, like cats, your content needs to serve an emotional response and almost overwhelm the viewer. Second, people will share content that is practical, can apply to their lives in one-way or another, and isn’t embarrassing to share. Lastly, viral content is typically positive and is more likely to be shared if a story is involved.
Let me reiterate, there is no secret formula that guarantees your blog, article, photo, video or song will go viral. That being said, there are plenty of developed theories and ideas that you can apply to your created content to increase your chances!
Best of luck in your journey to becoming an Internet celebrity, also – we wouldn’t argue if you wanted to cut us some of the profits when you do,