The Art of Going Viral


Photo Credit: smallbiztrends.com

While reading a Fast Company interview with Buzzfeed’s publisher, Dao Nguyen , a part that stood out to me was how she created her first article that went viral. The article titled “27 sings you were raised by immigrant parents was able to rack up an astounding 2 million views. According to the interview, she credited the success of the piece to the emotional response she was able to draw from readers. “The comments were like, “I was laughing so hard until I got to number 27 and now I’m crying.” Or “Number 27 made me send this to my parents.” Many of these comments were basically saying, “Ha ha ha, BRB crying,” said Nguyen. Seeing the emotion is one part of driving higher viewership numbers, I searched for more keys for creating building an internet sensation.

The first helpful bit of information I found was a post in blogger Noah Kagan’s okdork.com. Analysis from over 1 million articles were used in the piece to help show what is most successful in expanding reach. One statistic that I found stunning is that the numbers for long form content essentially blew short term content out of the water, as far as average shares go. Furthermore, Kagan states that, “Not surprisingly, there was a lot more short-form content being written. How much more? There were 16 times more content with less than 1000 words than there were content with 2000+ words.” What that means for us in our class, or anybody writing in general, is that there is a big market for in-depth, well done long form pieces. Nowadays, people are less willing to put in the extra work to post big stories, so there is great opportunity and incentive, for us to go out there and see if we write great detailed stories that will draw more readers.

Another point mentioned by Kagan is that lists and infographics are  the best types of articles to create as far as viewership goes. These numbers were found by separating articles into six categories: list, infrographic, how to, what, why and video. This took me off guard as well, as I assumed video would be the runaway leader in this category. Regardless, it shows that readers prefer to have their content broken down into fun, smaller more digestible chunks. While there is always a place for traditional writing, maybe it shows that alternative forms dominate readership.

A Forbes article titled “10 brilliant strategies for writing viral content” added another tip that I found quite interesting. According to the piece, the most popular blogger on the web, Neetan Zimmerman, shares his own articles 10-15 times per day. By doing this, different demographics get to see the articles that are available at different times of the day. A quick test in the post showed that if an article is shared more often, it can get up to 5.8 times more readers. This shows that despite the unavoidable backlash that comes with multiple shares, it is certainly worth getting your piece out there several times.

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