Three Ways to Make “Viral” Content


              To me, there has always been an overwhelming sense of randomness when I look at content that has gone viral and compare it to content that has not.  Trying to figure out how something went viral would be like asking Kim Kardashian whatImage it takes to be famous.  While she has obviously done just that, I would imagine it would be difficult for her to explain what skills and strategies she used when becoming famous (other than the cliché “work really hard” and “follow your dreams” type stuff).  Further, just because someone has become famous, it doesn’t mean they can articulate the steps needed to emulate what they have done. Even if they could, how would we know those steps would work for someone else?  As you can tell, like Kim Kardashian’s celebrity status, trying to figure out how to make content go viral can often bring up more questions than answers.  After this week’s readings, I have compiled a short list of bullets that I feel help content go viral and would like to share them with you (Obviously in the hopes that you will share them with someone else! ….I mean in the interest of furthering your knowledge on the viral-ability of content).

Fully Cover the Topic

            According to one of the readings, longer content tends to be shared more often.  Personally, I think you just need to make sure that you have fully covered the topic.  Your content should have a beginning, middle, and an end and your viewers should sort of know where these are while reading (unlike the movie This is 40 that I just watched this weekend and was saddened by its lack of all three). Image As another reading pointed out, the end should also involve some sort of call to action so that our readers have something to do with the content they have just read.  This call could be a reflective question, or it could even be a direct request to share the content they have just read.  Overall, successful content lets the viewer know what they are viewing ahead of time, and comes to a distinctive conclusion. 

Provoke Emotion

            This was probably the most common theme in the readings this week and is probably the most difficult of my tips to actually succeed in.  Viral content often evokes strong emotion and as our reading pointed out, some emotions are actually better than others.  Understanding our content should include a grasp of the types of emotions it will bring out in our reader and we should seek to appeal to those emotions.  While we typically think of viral content being funny on the emotional scale, other emotions such as surprise can also be very effective at helping our content go viral.

Make it Shareable

            The easiest advice I took from the readings this week was to make your content shareable!  While this may seem like the most obvious, the readings discussed tips such as putting share buttons at both the top and bottom of articles and making it possible to share your content over as many platforms as possible.  You can ask your readers to share your contentImage as much as possible, but if it is not convenient for them to do so, they may never will. 


Wrapping up, it is pretty clear to me that there is not a specific formula or defined strategies for making content go viral. There is an aspect of randomness to it that if we could explain, then EVERYONE would have viral content all the time.  We know from experience that this is not always the case.  However, the readings pointed out some great strategies that can help and hopefully gave us some things to think about when creating new content.



What have you learned about content that you plan to use going forward to try to create more engagement with your content?

What emotions are associated with the content that resonates most with you?

Why do you think Kim Kardashian is famous? 🙂


6 thoughts on “Three Ways to Make “Viral” Content

  1. Jake- I think they emotion that resonates with me most is something that is either funny or something that inspires me. Funny content is always great for a good laugh, but content that inspires me in any way is something that I look for. A piece of viral content that inspires me is the #MakeItCount video by Nike. Another great inspirational piece of content is the Guinness basketball commercial.

  2. Hey Jake,
    I was surprised to learn that longer content tended to go viral. I don’t think this is always the case, but it makes sense that pieces of content should be as complete as they can be so people will be inclined to share them.

    Like I said in a comment on Casey Goldstein’s blog, I tend to share content that makes me a little mad. I am not an angry person by nature and I try not to vent too much on social media, but if something ticks me off, I want my friends to know about it too. Along with the slight anger is a desire on my behalf to inform others.

    Kim K. is famous because silly girls like me watch her show! It’s my guilty pleasure #sorrynotsorry

  3. Jake,

    There is definitely an aspect of randomness, there is plenty of great stuff out there that could be viral but never becomes viral. It could be a matter of timing, location, and topic. Just like in the music industry where songs become popular only years after they are released.

    I believe Kim made a movie, never saw it but heard it was a hit. Apart from that I believe it was a combination of luck, influential parents, and some sort of cosmic conundrum.

  4. I’m definitely going to try to make my content provoke any sort of emotion. I enjoy reading and watching content that makes me feel something, and I wouldn’t waste my time on content that was boring, so I’m going to focus on creating content that follows those guidelines! The content that resonates most with me is content that is emotional and inspiring. It’s nice to see people doing good things or accomplishing big feats.

  5. Emotion– good, bad or indifferent is what makes people share. Scratch that, the share button itself is what makes people share. I feel like my head is spinning. I think you have a chicken and the egg here– an emotion makes you want to share it, but it has to be something that can be shared. So content in general. Sorry it took so long to get there. 🙂

    Humor is what gets me when I’m sharing. Not that an emotion responses won’t elicit a share, but I tend to think that funny trumps most things and that is what people expect from me as well. For example, asking why Kim K is famous is an EXCELLENT question, and I love your sense of humor. She’s famous because we allow her to be. If we took the spotlight off her she would cease to exist.

  6. Thanks for the responses everyone! It does seem that humor is “rising to the surface” of your comments, confirming the reading from the articles. I’m glad the Kim K tie in brought out some discussion as well and might be a good way to think about my posts going forward. Taking a topic and finding a more relate able aspect of culture to prove a point. Thanks!

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