What Makes Certain Content Go Viral?

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Here’s a question – have you ever published anything at all online that has gone viral?

As those who have will know, there’s nothing quite like watching what appears to be a freak influx of traffic and exposure grow, continue growing and soon enough blast right into the stratosphere. It’s a pretty overwhelming feeling. Not just because of the direct business benefits, but also the fact that you have created something that’s become a genuine sensation.

Which is all well and good, aside from the fact that actually getting content go viral in the first place is a bit like the quest for the holy grail. We know some content goes viral, we come across viral content every day and every business would like to nail the elusive secret.

So with such heavy research having been carried out into the phenomenon, why is it that some content goes viral while the rest takes a back seat?

The answer…well, it’s impossible to answer concisely due to one inescapable fact. That being, what makes content go viral among one audience is entirely different for the next audience. Which is precisely why there’s no silver bullet solution to creating viral content – it exists in endless forms.

 Two Important Questions

Still, what we have learned over the years is that there are two important questions you need to ask yourself, in order to improve your chances of creating viral content.

  1. Is anyone going to want to share this?
  2. Is this genuinely a piece of remarkable content?

The simple fact of the matter is that if you cannot answer both of these questions positively and in total confidence, you have precisely 0% likelihood of going viral. It just isn’t going to happen. When boiled down to its fundamentals, viral content is a relatively simple concept. You come across something new and interesting, it generates an emotional response and in doing so prompts you to share it. And as those you share it with haven’t seen it before either, they do the same.

So there are really only two components here – uniqueness and value. The only problem being that hitting the nail on the head with both at the same time isn’t exactly a cakewalk. If it was, we’d all be doing it hour after hour on a daily basis.

There’s also something of a paradox when it comes to focusing intently on creating viral content. First of all, it’s almost impossible to force viral content or pull it out of thin air. More often than not, it has to be something that is created naturally – trying too hard often proving counterproductive. Secondly, investing too heavily in the creation of viral content isn’t always advisable. The reason being that as it is so difficult to pull off, you can expect considerably more failures than successes.

Plus if you really are as good as you think you are, it shouldn’t be necessary to force it anyway. After all, it’s simply a case of being unique to and of value to your target audience.



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