7 Viral Content Factors

Viral Content


If you are setting out to make viral content the idea is your starting point. You want the idea to have an emotional hook and be original. If the idea ties in with current news the content has more chance of getting picked up by blogs and news sites.


If your content elicits strong emotions people will want to pass it on. Positive emotions tend to be more successful with the top 5 emotions being: Amusement, Interest, Surprise, Happiness, Delight. Don’t rule out negative emotions though, the New York Times found their most shared content is ‘angry’. Emotional stacking is used on blogs who use lists like Buzzfeed. You can lead the reader emotionally to the point you want them to share (end of post).


Surprise and interest will give the emotional hook an extra kick. If you can combine surprise with another strong emotion it will give your content a much better chance of going viral.


Tying your content in with a current trend is a strategy which is often used successfully. Just think of all the popular Harlem Shake videos! If a news item is becoming popular maybe you can capitalise on that.


Visual content is understood more quickly and easily and on the whole is better at eliciting emotions. People find visual content more engaging which is why images, gifs and video are ubiquitous on the web.


To maximise the chances of your content going viral you need a lot of sharing going on as soon as its published. If you have a piece of content you have identified as being potentially viral can you get influencers to share it? Maybe you could drop a few emails before it goes live.


What factors make sharing more likely?

  • Content that makes people feel like they belong to a group or are ‘in the know’
  • Content that makes the sharer look more intelligent
  • If content is aligned with someone’s identity and represents that to their peers
  • Having a purpose to sharing is a strong motivating factor eg. a campaign. The underlying motivator here is altruism as it is for:
  • Useful info.

I hope you found this post useful. Feel free to let me know your thoughts.

About Joe

Joe White. Owner, Think Genial