Why Do Things Go Viral?

The goal of any great advertisement is word of mouth. It’s the best form of advertising because we will always believe our friends over an ad. Word of mouth has changed in the digital age though. Now, it’s all about comments and shares.

Virality. Something being shared an exponential number of times in a limited amount of time. So how do you get something to go viral? Unsurprisingly, just like there isn’t a science for word-of-mouth, there isn’t a science for virality either. But, after doing some research from Forbes, University of Pennsylvania, and The Guardian, I’ve tried to understand what makes one thing go viral over another.


Buzzfeed is the king of virality for a reason. The first reason is simplicity. Their listicles have changed the way we consume literary content online. They make content extremely easy to digest. You can scroll through an article and get the gist of it in 5-10 seconds.


Or the feeling of being personable. Again, Buzzed’s lists and quizzes always make you go, “OMG! that is so me!” People like sharing things that they feel a personal connection to. It’s a statement of sorts. When you share something that you feel is about you, it’s a way to tell people who you are.

Eliciting Emotion, Preferably Positive

Why do we still see Upworthy all over Facebook? It’s not just because of the clickbait headlines. It’s because of the emotions it brings. The positive emotions brought together in every post on Upworthy makes you want to share that positivity with everybody else on your social channels. Positivity works better because most don’t like sharing emotions of fear or sadness. Think about it simply. You would much rather share a joyful experience than an awful one.

There’s nothing to say that every viral piece of content follows these rules. Gangnam Style had none of the above. There’s also nothing to say that if you follow these rules or tips that you’ll get virality. Again, this isn’t a science, but then again, nothing in advertising is.

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