What Content Goes Viral?

People share content they find on the Internet when it “helps them to make a strong statement about who they are,” and when the content gives them a strong, positive emotional response, explains Jack Shepherd of Buzzfeed:

[O]n today’s internet, your readers are your publishers – they are the people who decide which of your articles or lists or quizzes or infographics (another piece of jargon that’s worth avoiding because it sounds like homework) to share with their friends. They are more likely to do that if the act of sharing helps them to make a strong statement about who they are. […]

A 2010 study of the New York Times “most emailed” list found the articles that made the list tended to fall into one of four categories: awe-inspiring, emotional, positive or surprising. And the lesson from this isn’t so much that people like to feel feelings when they engage with a piece of content, it is that when it works – when the thing actually makes them cry or exclaim or feel inspired or shocked or happy – they want to share that experience with others. [The Guardian, March 16]