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How Does Something Go Viral?

Coup - A Digital Studio / Educate  / How Does Something Go Viral?

How Does Something Go Viral?

You’ve all probably seen a picture of the grumpy cat, or come across a video of a Llama spitting in a guys face on the internet. These often bizarre bits of online content have been latched onto by millions of people who have liked and shared them to the point that they can sometimes become cultural touchstones. But what makes something go viral? It’s hard to pin down any exact reason but I’ve listed a few of the most important factors that will maximise the chance of something becoming the next big thing.

Computer Mouse Coup

Framing: They’ve Got To Make You Want To Click.

People are generally pretty conservative with their clicks, which is why the way that a piece of content is presented to its online audience is extremely important. This is called framing, and it refers to the headline, subject line, thumbnail picture or video title that comes with almost any post or share. If a piece of content is framed poorly, or gives people the wrong impression about what kind of media they are going to be getting, then people won’t click on it and it won’t be going viral.

Huffington Post

Getting Traction With The Right Websites.

A lot of the responsibility for content going viral falls with popular news, media, and blogging websites. There’s a giant system of content marketing websites like The Huffington Post who have whole departments dedicated to searching for and posting videos that they believe will go viral. These websites want people clicking on posts that link them back to their own sites in order to boost their page view numbers. They look for certain aspects of a video that they think people will like and will then post it on their website or Facebook page. Once one of these websites does this, others will usually follow suit, resulting in the video or article booming in popularity.

At the end of the day the goal is to entertain people by providing them with content they will enjoy. We started Coup_tv as a way to provide people with videos we found hilarious and wanted to share.

Grumpy Cat

Appealing To People's Emotions

Just like any good book or movie, a piece of media will have a higher chance of being popular if it hits people right in the feelings. Videos and other content that makes people feel happy is by far the most common. There is a constant stream of hilarious short videos, pictures and gifs that are making their way into the minds of millions of people every day. These bits of content are usually short, easily consumable clips that show anything from a dog doing something stupid to news bloopers, and they can grow to enormous popularity and make there subjects famous. Anger is also a powerful emotion that can have affect contents popularity. Videos and articles that outrage or shock will often spread and become massive because they encourage people to like and share. This outrage causing content can often lead to massive movements where people take real action that actually has real world results.

Plain Old Great Content.

Is it really funny? Is it heart warming? Is it shocking? Does a celebrity or popular figure humiliate themselves?

If a piece of content wants to have any hope of going viral then it needs to tick as many of these boxes as possible. Things just tend to go viral because they are really really hilarious, or really really shocking. It’s often hard to predict whether something will boom in popularity or not but the easiest way to get a good idea is to just make an honest judgement on whether or not it’s great content. Viral marketing has worked great for many large companies like Dove with their Real Women campaign or Air New Zealand’s hilarious Lord of the Rings themed flight address video. These companies understood that in order to create content that will go viral, the content has to be amazing.

However, the content doesn’t necessarily have to be great if it involves somebody that lots of people know about. Simply the fact that people are aware of who a certain celebrity or famous figure is will be enough to make them click, like and share.

That's a 10


Ok, we made the word up but that’s fine. Viral-ability. Broken into two words its its ability to go viral. Its the word we use to gauge how viral the post or content might end up being and it’s what we consider every time we create a piece of content. Any new articles, posts or videos should meet a set of viral-ability guidelines if its to have any chance of getting traction and becoming popular. Viral-ability is the amalgamation of all of the different factors that we’ve talked about in this article so far. It’s the essence of what makes something appealing to large numbers of people.

We’ve given you a little explanation of the factors that will give a video the best chance of blowing up online. Head to our Coup_tv page to check out some of our favourite funny viral videos, it’s a great place to kill some time or procrastinate.

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