Is There a Formula for Viral Content?

Viral Content

The social media sphere is filled to the brim with viral content, with a new video being passed around nearly every day. But what makes viral content so popular? Is there a formula to unlock virality on the internet? While there might not be one exact method, there are things creators can do to boost their chances of being the next viral video hit.

What is a viral video?

Viral content is media that spreads quickly across the internet in a short span of time. Different social media platforms have different measurements of true virality, but view counts to be considered viral span from 100,000 to 1 million (or more) views. Some sources say on Instagram, “viral” is more than 100,000 interactions, such as likes and views. On TikTok, “viral” is considered more than a million views.  

Why would you want to go viral?

For creators that have a small following, it can be their ticket to success by gaining a larger subscriber count. Jenna Marbles is a creator that gained many subscribers after publishing a viral video. Her famous YouTube video “How to trick people into thinking you’re good looking” grabbed the attention of viewers and currently has 72 million views. After gaining traction, Jenna reinvented the kind of content she published and still maintains her 19.9 million subscribers.

How do you do it?

Truthfully, there isn’t one method to going viral but there are a few attributes that you can try to include in your videos to give yourself the best chance at success.

Stay On Trend, or Create One

If there is a trend going around social media, jump into the action early! If you can provide a new take, make it funny, or be completely unique in the way you participate, your video will likely be favored over others.

Bonus points if you can start a trend, like Amanda Jones did on TikTok. In her 50 second video, Jones shows the audience how to make “soda” from sparkling water and balsamic vinegar. While the recipe might not have been a win for many, Jones got 6.6 million views on her video.

Make it Short

Many viral videos are short. This time frame makes sense, seeing as the attention span of humans is getting shorter and shorter. When videos are bite-sized, it is easier to share among your friends. The short length of the video also encourages more people to watch it. You might not have time for a 30-minute video, but you definitely have time for a 2-minute clip.

Use the Right Platform

Video platforms that encourage virality will boost your chances of going viral. If you upload your video to multiple places where short form video is available, your chances will be that much better. YouTube Shorts, TikTok, and Instagram reels are great places to start. While your video will likely be shared across platforms, and might be reuploaded by others, you can stay ahead of that by offering your videos where they will most likely be consumed.

Positive or Negative Emotional Reactions

According to Influence&CO, positive media is the top emotional response that was elicited from viral videos. When 3-year-old Ayaan’s mother filmed him walking to school and repeating positive affirmations to himself, she uploaded the video online and knew she struck gold. The video was seen by millions and even made it on national news programs. Viewers loved how wholesome the video was and it evoked emotion from the audience, driving it to virality.

Even videos that elicit negative emotional reactions can become viral. Any emotion that creators can elicit from the audience will help the virality because viewers feel so strongly, one way or another. Videos of abandoned animals that find a new home pull on the audience’s heart strings, leading them to be shared more.

Virality is a blessing and a curse. Gaining many followers in a short window can be challenging at times. Be sure to check in often and realign yourself with the content you’re making so you can maintain authenticity and keep your followers watching.

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