How Social Media Posts Go Viral

By | October 24, 2015

I never quite understood how social media algorithms work, especially on Facebook, until I did some hardcore research and I advise you to do the same.  In fact no one really has a definitive answer to this, but it’s worth it to try to experiment.

So when I read an article on Search Engine Journal about The Story of How Social Posts Go Viral I was intrigued nonetheless.

Alex Noudelman on Viral Social Media Posts

One of the key arguments of this article is that almost all viral social media posts share one feature – the ability to provoke and capture people’s emotions. When our emotions are aroused, we tend to want to share that item with others….making our posts viral in the process.

The article also explored the 7 emotions that get the most arousal and lead to more sharing on social media channels:

  1. Amazement – These are the types of posts that leave readers in awe and feeling happy, glee, and excited.
  2. Joy – This is the type of content that is positive and uplifting and makes people happy when they see it on social media.
  3. Lust – This sort of content involves consumers and readers being “consumed with desire”. Very often consumers and readers are craving lust when they see a product or service they REALLY want.
  4. Surprise –When people are taken aback by content, either positively or negatively, they are more inclined to share it.
  5. Anger – Viral posts are able to evoke anger or capitalize on anger your readers are experiencing.
  6. Anxiety – Shared reactions to anxiety makes content contagious…rightly so. One way that marketers invoke anxiety is by telling their readers that if they don’t act swiftly they will be missing out on something big.
  7. Fear – Fear is one of the biggest motivators on Earth. It targets the reptilian brain, and people can’t resist but take action when motivated with fear.

The biggest factor for me is relatability. If content is too sales oriented, it can be off-putting to fans. Businesses should have a voice that comes across as real, human and relatable. The best part of social media is the ability to have fun with it.

Pizza Hut, a great example, uses its Twitter account to make jokes, to start conversations and interact with its fans. They retweet their followers and keep things from being too formal with tweets such as, “Attention: You’re reading a very expensive tweet crafted to tell you about our all-new menu.” By poking fun at itself, the company’s team keeps the account promotional while still looking human.

Another big factor that was not mentioned in the Search Engine Journal article is – “being informed”. It’s no secret that the Internet changes on a daily basis and something that was newsworthy today is not something to that will be newsworthy tomorrow. When you are not informed of the changing landscape, you will not be able to make comments on what you like or dislike about upcoming technology releases or go viral. Subscribe to media sites that are on the front lines of different methods used for social networking, social media marketing, online marketing – Reddit, and Quora.

About Alex Noudelman

Alex Noudelman is an educator, coach and Digital Marketing Manager with over 5 years of experience. Alex enjoys and strives to motivate others to better themselves professionally and on a personal note. Feel free to contact him if you have any questions or would like a specific topic covered.

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