Content Discovery Smackdown: Hootsuite vs. Buffer vs. KloutContent Marketing Minds: Ingredients of the Tastiest Content [Nutrition Label]From the Corn Field to the Digital Era: Content Marketing Starts with TrustContent Marketing: Is 2014 Really Shaping Up to Be the Year of Video?
Your Customers Aren’t Listening! How to Create Consumer Dialogue that Converts4 Tools for Nonprofit Social Listening and Reputation ManagementThe Promising Role of Social Listening in Treating Health IssuesThe Importance of Social Listening for Brands
- Public Relations
Facebook Testing a Way for Users to Buy Products on the Platform7 Website Tips to Attract More Shoppers to Your PagesHow eCommerce, Augmented and Virtual Reality Will Redefine the Retail ExperienceSearch Query Analysis to Increase eCommerce Website Conversions
- Content Marketing
Technology & Data
Social Startups: Bizible Connects All the Dots from Marketing Contributions to RevenueCreating the Perfect Profile for Your Social Media Marketing EffortUsing GPS and Localization for Social AnalyticsAnalytics and Prospect Intel: Discovering Your Ideal Prospect
- Big Data
- Tech & Innovation
3 Security Risks You’re Taking Every Day While Using Social MediaShould the President Have the Power to "Pull the Plug" on the Internet?How Safe is Your WordPress Website From Hackers and Other Malicious Attacks?
- Software & Tools
- Small Business
- Social Organization
Celebrating the Grand Re-Launch of Social Media Today! SBH Podcast Episode 8Why Should You Care If Your Employees Are Thought Leaders?Beyond Engagement: The Art of Managing Social-Media Risk in Employee Advocacy
Why All-in-One Social Media Management Systems Don't Cut It for Social Customer ServiceWhat You Should Know About Customer, Digital, and Contextual ExperienceSurging into Q3: How to Make It Better Than Q2Is How You Serve Your Customers Costing You Business?
Join us September 15th in Atlanta for The Employee Advocacy Summit and learn how to unleash the power of your employees.
Post your event here and we'll share it with our community. If one of our members is featured, we'll promote as well on their profile.
- Marketplace & Webinars
The SMT Marketplace
Your resource for exclusive content and insights from Social Media Today, and opportunities to reach our community of professionals.
The Social Business Book Club brings you books, discussions, and insights from today's to business thought leaders.
Join interactive talks and and panel discussions with leading thinkers and practitioners on social media and networked business, or browse the catalogue of recorded sessions - all completely free.
Reach Social Media Today's community of marketing and communications professionals in an editor-approved context with a native advertising package.
Social Media Marketing 101: What Makes Content Go Viral?
Posted on August 1st 2013
The term “viral” is on everyone’s lips these days. Media outlets large and small are increasingly devoting time to covering the latest viral video or tweet. But what exactly is viral content? Does viral content tend to have certain characteristics that lend to its success? Why do we love it? Simply put, what makes content go viral?
IS IT VIRAL?
By way of a social media marketing 101 working definition, content goes viral if it spreads very fast on the Internet, just like a flu virus would in real life. The content itself can be an article, a blog, a picture, or a video, but it must be very funny, controversial or thought-provoking so that people feel an urge to talk about it or share it on social media.
Marketers are always trying to create campaigns that go viral. Hubspot social media scientist Dan Zarella defines a viral marketing campaign as “any online content created with the intent to ‘go viral.’ This includes non-interactive media like videos, podcasts, articles or blog posts, as well as interactive content like tools, web-based games or ARGs (alternate reality games).”
Viral content has three characteristics that lend to its success. Most obviously, people need to find the content exceptional for whatever reason. It needs to become a meme. First introduced by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, a meme is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. Memes are the cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures much like a virus does.
Second, in order for content to spread quickly to a broad audience, it needs to appeal to market mavens or influencers with high social networking potential (SNP). Finally, viral content must be easily shared. This is where social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are ideal transmitters of viral content. Viral content should also engage viewers by allowing them to comment, share and get involved. The more engaging and shareable content is, the more likely it is to go viral.
WHY WE LOVE IT
According to an oldie but goodie infographic from Mashable, successful viral content displays one or more of the following characteristics:
- It’s hilarious
- It’s unbelievable-makes our collective jaw drop
- It provokes an emotional response-positive or negative emotion
- It agrees with our worldview
- It’s thought-provoking
- It’s taboo-not covered by mainstream media
- It’s dramatic-makes for good gossip
Most online content does not go viral. Viral content is unique and rare. It is a living meme, tapping into the cultural Zeitgeist in a way other content just doesn’t.
What do you think makes content go viral? Share your thoughts!