Posted on by Jack
What Makes Digital Content Go Viral?

In today’s age it seems as if virtually anything can go viral in a matter of seconds. From funny videos to traumatizing news stories, we’ve seen it all, and the exact process of how virality is achieved remains just as elusive as ever.

The quality of content that goes viral can cover a wide range of topics. At the dawn of the internet, these topics mainly included things such as cute cat and baby videos. As time progressed and users got more used to the platform, viral entities evolved and expanded exponentially.

Today, viral content isn’t just limited to entertainment or social causes. Businesses who develop strong digital content know that social media is a powerful tool that can be used to influence behavior. And the more compelling your content is, the more likely it will be shared.

Here, we share 3 main types of content that go viral in order to help you better understand how to achieve virality.

Tap Into Emotion

Of the kinds of things that go viral today, memes seem to be the most popular. Memes are designed to make the viewer laugh, feel confused, cringe, or feel something. Because of how shareable memes are in the form of pictures or videos, they can be easily exchanged through nearly any medium over the internet. While on the surface it may seem that memes are a silly trend, what makes them popular is that they all evoke a strong emotion: laughter. When thinking about how to attract audiences—especially younger audiences—ask yourself how you can harness the latent power of memes.


“Tide Pod challenge” videos.

Create Challenges

Another type of content that can go viral are challenges. Challenges can range from those with noble beginnings such as “The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge,” which had regular people and celebrities all over the internet pouring ice water on their heads, to challenges that are seemingly pointless and dangerous, such as the “Tide Pod Challenge” that resulted in countless kids consuming laundry detergent. According to the New York Times, “Supporters [of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge] ended up raising over $115 million for the A.L.S. Association.” The extreme success of the challenge also lead to scientists discovering a new gene tied to the disease.

Think about internet challenges your business can employ to engage customers. Can you offer a prize for how many likes or shares you can get on content? Can you challenge your followers to submit photos or questions? Can you create some sort of trivia game and offer a reward? Get creative and find ways to engage your customers – they’ll thank you for it.


Donald Trump doing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Bring Awareness To Important Issues

While the first thing that comes to mind with the word “viral” may be memes and challenges, virality can also bring awareness to important issues. Recently, awareness spread like lighting across social media about the horrifying massacres occurring in Sudan. Instagram was used primarily by younger people to bring light to the issue that was being covered up by the Sudanese government. Many users spread awareness by turning their profile pictures blue and posting facts and updates about the issue, along with links to places where donations could be made to help. These blue profile pictures, according to BuzzFeedNews, originate from the profile picture of one 26-year-old Mohamed Hashim Mattar whose Instagram profile picture was blue at the time of his murder in the massacres. As a result, the blue profile picture has exploded and is spreading the news across the internet.


Mattar’s Instagram page.

How can your business bring awareness to important issues? First: be aware of what’s going on in the world beyond your front door, and be ready to act. Today’s news cycle is immediate and the digital marketplace doesn’t leave a lot of lag time for brands who fall behind in commenting on important issues.

Secondly: do you have causes you support such as the local food bank, a charity run, or sponsoring a gala event? People like to work with brands and companies that aren’t just in it for a profit; they want to know they’re working with people who care about other people. Be sure you’re promoting local nonprofits and bringing awareness to their causes.

Whether it comes in the form of funny memes, amusing challenges, or campaigns for awareness of social issues, it is indisputable that strong content with an emotional appeal has immense power and influence. When something goes viral today, thousands—even millions—of people will see it every second. Businesses who work to understand the power of strong digital content know that social media should not be ignored or diminished, and is a highly influential tool to influence many into doing good, laughing—or at least not hurting themselves by eating Tide PODs.



BuzzFeed News

New York Times

Donald Trump ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

“Tide Pod challenge” Videos


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