Creating Viral Content: Are Some People Just Really Lucky?

I feel like I’m getting mixed messages on whether actually trying to create viral content is a good thing or if it really is just a moment where the stars align and the nyan cat pops out. 🙂

I know she’s old news now, but how does a little grey pixelated cat who’s running through the sky get over 100 million views on YouTube? I love cats. I still don’t get it.

Our social media class at the University of Louisville  discussed  viral content and real time marketing today. Emotional triggers can be a key part of spreading viral content– and when I say “emotional triggers,” in this instance, I don’t mean something that brings tears to your eyes or makes you burst out laughing. For example, a consumer enjoys the sense of being the first to know about exclusive content. They also like the feeling of being an “insider” or one of the “cool people”. I found myself recalling Adam Lefkoe‘s guest talk to our class last month.

Being in on the joke, that’s what the internet is about…. –Adam Lefkoe, WHAS 11

Lefkoe also reminded us that we should focus on the purpose of creating different, meaningful content, not just content that we want to go viral. So, this brings me back my original question: should we try to create viral content or just let it happen organically?

As with most things in life, I believe there should be a delicate balance of the two. A few years ago, Google believed that viral content no more than just plain luck. That opinion has changed pretty drastically over the past few years.

Potentially Creating a Viral Story:

  • Plan: determine the specific interests and behaviors of your target audience
  • Create an Original Story: include emotional triggers and engage audience in conversation
  • Distribution: find the right social media channels to create a buzz around your content that may spark the interest of traditional media outlets
  • Momentum: push your content through multiple platforms to build momentum

This may be a little disheartening to many of us who love to write, but the average reader only consumes about 20% of the content on a web page . Hours of creative brainstorming and editing for your blog post down the drain? Not necessarily.

Not all content is going to go viral. Sometimes you may just be in the proverbial “right place at the right time,” but nevertheless, there is a science behind creating viral content. If “skimability” helps you catch the eye of your audience, “sharability”  allows your audience to easily share content with their personal followers over multiple social media platforms.




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