What Makes Content Go Viral?

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Every day, countless pieces of new content are uploaded to the world wide web. Most of this content is doomed to languish in relative obscurity, only to be seen by a small number of passers by. However, some of this content will go viral – hijacking the emotions and capturing the imaginations of many.

Creating a viral piece of content is like hitting a marketing home run. Marketers dream of going viral and creating massive value from just one article, image, or video.

But creating this content is easier said than done. A viral piece of content must have that something special that makes a viewer just have to share it with their friends.

From audience emotions to content structure, there are many things to consider when attempting to creating something that could go viral. What makes content go viral? Keep reading to find out!

What Makes People Want To Share Content?

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In order for a piece of content to go viral, it must be shared. So then the question becomes… what makes somebody want to share a piece of content.

People instinctively want to stay connected to others. Socialization is a crucial part of the human experience and isolation or lack of social stimulation can have negative effects on the human psyche.

In the social media age, there are many ways to connect with others. One way is by sharing content. But nobody wants to share boring content with little value. Instead, people seek to better connect with others by sharing content that is appealing, engaging, surprising, valuable, or important.

For instance, someone may wish to share content that they think is funny or that may contain valuable information. Regardless of the reason for sharing, the content being shared is expected to have some sort of impact on the receiver, just as it did on the sharer.

What Makes Viral Content So Appealing?

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At first glance, viral content may seem unpredictable. After all, if there was a formula for creating content that people love, wouldn’t everyone do it? But research shows that a piece of content’s chance of going viral are dependent on more than just luck.

Studies have found that viral content is often capable of stimulating our emotions. Moreover, triggering certain emotions is more likely to increase the likelihood of something going viral.

Recently, a group of researchers used a Pleasure-Arousal-Dominance (PAD) model to examine the combinations of emotions that people experience when viewing viral images. Emotions like happiness, surprise, admiration, and satisfaction lead the way, with other emotions like hope, love, pride, and gratitude trailing close behind.

A 2012 study found that content which is capable of arousing positive emotions is more likely to go viral. Though arousing some (any!) emotion is better than none at all, content that inspires positive emotions has a greater chance of reaching a larger audience.

A 2015 study found very similar results, even in a completely different context. For this experiment, other scientific researchers were asked to summarize a recent finding from their work before showing the summaries to over 7,000 different people. What researchers found was that, even in this context, content that was more positive and emotionally inspiring was more likely to be enjoyed and shared by its audience.

Content that provokes negative emotions can still go viral. It’s just harder to pull off due to the combination of emotions required. In order to go viral, negative content must strike the right balance of arousal (ranging from excitement to relaxation) and dominanace (ranging from submission to being in control).

However, the vast majority of viral content seems to be overwhelmingly positive and emotionally complex in a positive way.

What Can You Do To Make Your Content Go Viral?

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The quality of your content, the value of your content, and how successfully it can arouse, provoke, or inspire emotion are the biggest factors in deciding whether or not it will go viral.

Additionally, there are certain characteristics that may increase your content’s chances of reaching viral status.

For instance, funny or surprising content has a greater chance of going viral. Content that tickles our funny bone tends to inspire positive and happy emotions. Meanwhile, surprising content can be shocking and memorable in a good way.

Content that has practical value can also have a greater chance of going viral. That’s because it can provide feelings of satisfaction that people may want to share with those that they care about.

Furthermore, shorter content seems to have a greater chance of going viral than long-form content. The attention span of the average human is believed to be shorter than that of a goldfish. And with so man different things pulling at their attention, who can blame them? Shorter content simply does a better job of holding people’s attention and keeping them plugged in. If your content is short and sweet, it will have a greater chance of reaching viral status.

Additionally, creating visual content, or including visuals in your written content can improve its chances of going viral. Visual content is more stimulating than written content and can be digested much more quickly. It also does a much better job of holding people’s attention. No matter how good your written content is, there will always be the chance that someone who doesn’t feel like reading it will immediately click away, especially if it is long.

Creating Content For Your Dispensary Website

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When trying to create a piece of content that could go viral, ask yourself these three questions: What kind of emotions does this inspire? Does this content help someone express themselves or transfer value to another? and, Why would anybody share this?

Want to learn more about creating content that can help to meet your dispensary’s marketing and business goals? Contact Foottraffik today to find out how we can help you to better connect with your audience!