Can You Make Something Go Viral? All Your Questions Answered (Sort Of).

We welcomed a new Creative to our team this summer: Morgan Haddaway signed on as an intern with us and, in between taking pics of our ice cream deliveries and researching Blaise Pascal quotes, she’s been tackling a pretty substantial research project on all things viral. I decided to get some of these great nuggets out to the interwebs via the following Q/A. Enjoy!

So you’ve been spending the summer researching influencer marketing and viral content… What’s been the most interesting thing you’ve learned so far?One of the most interesting things I’ve learned in my research is that although there is no exact formula for making content go viral, there are a ton of tips and tricks that one can use to increase the chances of something going viral. Some advice I found for bettering the odds of having your content go viral is:

  • Make an emotional connection with your audience
  • Create content with practical value
  • Have content that generates social currency
  • Share stories, not facts
  • Don’t produce content with the intent of having it go viral

If you follow these helpful tips, your online content will have a better chance of hitting the major leagues!

So would you say this is a formula?
Unfortunately, there is no magic sauce or formula to make something go viral. No matter how hard people try, they won’t be able to pinpoint the exact, and necessary, components needed for making content big. This is because the ultimate deciding factor that drives content to become a viral sensation is luck. It all comes down to if you have the right content, published at the right time, and the right people seeing it and passing it along. There is no set path or route you can take that promises your content will become an online phenomenon; making the concept of going viral all the more intriguing.

I read somewhere that positive and uplifting content gets shared more than negative. Is that true?
Yes, indeed it is! I came across a few studies throughout my research that concluded positive content is more sharable then negative, causing positive content to be more viral. I also found that viral content usually plays on two or more of the audiences’ emotional responses at a time. According to research found by Fractl, they discovered the two top emotional responses generated from viral images are happiness and surprise. Incorporating these emotions in your work will give your content a greater chance of going viral.

What are some of the tools you’ve found that help marketers try to figure out how to make content more popular/viral?
I have not yet found a tool that directly helps marketers produce viral content. But, I have found a few tools that assist marketers and others better their chances at creating content that goes viral. One tool in particular is TrendSpottr. TendSpottr is an online tool that predicts trends, viral content and key influencers across all fields. This tool allows you to see the trending topics in your field and what your audiences like, look at and post. Marketers can use TrendSpottr to identify trends before they take off, to see what topics are popular in their domain and to cater their content towards those genres.

So you’re majoring in this stuff? Or you think you want to?
I am currently majoring in Communication on the Public Relations track at the University of Maryland, College Park. My major is not necessarily about viral content or influencer marketing, but the three intertwine, relate and complement one another. I really enjoy writing, public speaking and being able to convey stories and emotions through words. From what I’ve learned during my years at Maryland and my internship at ADG thus far, I can definitely say that this is the field I want to pursue after graduation.

What’s your favorite viral video of all time?
My favorite viral video of all time would have to be either the Evolution of Dance or Charlie Bit My Finger. No matter how many times I’ve seen these videos I still get a kick out of them.

5 years from now what are you doing?
Five years from now I will officially be an alum from the University of Maryland, College Park, and hope to be putting my hard-earned Communication degree to good use. I hope to be working in the Communication field, specifically Public Relations, or somewhere where I can use what I learned in school and excel in the workforce.


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About ADG

ADG Creative is a strategic communications firm specializing in branding, interactive, learning and gaming, and software development. We combine process, experience and extraordinary creative talent to tell our customers' stories in unique, memorable and usually unexpected ways, leveraging both conventional and new media platforms.