What Makes Content Viral?

by Basheer Badran

Whatever industry you’re in, going viral is

 the name of the game. You want as many

 people to view your content.

Before social media, any company that wanted to become a brand name had to flood the airwaves and that costs money. The world-famous, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke ad from 1971, cost $250,000 to make and far more than that to broadcast on every major television network, which was a staggering amount at the time. But now, any person with a cell phone camera, and a social media account can reach the same number of people if their content goes viral.

How does content become viral?

Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast recipe for going viral, but Jonah Berger, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, analyzed thousands of pieces of viral content to figure out common themes between them.

Doing so, he found six ideas you should follow to maximize engagement. He wrote about it at his book Contagious:

  • Create content or ads that will boost people’s social currency when they  share them The majority of users on social media desire to appear intelligent,  sophisticated, and ethical. You should provide them with content that will assist them in doing so.
  • You should try to create a trigger for your product. This is something that makes people immediately think of your product when they see, hear, smell, or touch it. One of the most successful examples of a trigger in advertising history is Nike’s slogan, Just Do it. When most people across the planet here Just do it, they think of Nike.
  • Evoking strong emotion is also an excellent way to go viral. The emotion could be happiness, sadness, or even anger. 
  • Create a brand that maximizes its publicity. Adidas is a great example of this. Its three-stripe logo is so well-known that most people recognize it and associate it with the brand.
  • Make content that’s practical or immediately useful. because people find value in receiving new interesting information.
  • People like stories. Ads and content that tell a story are more likely to be shared and they can be even more powerful if they invite people to share their own story.


Creating viral content isn’t easy, and it would not be wise to think that all your content on social media should go viral. However, trying to improve your social media reach has to be always on your mind, and it will be useful to study all the current trends in your industry and examine how viral content is created because its a never-ending learning process.

References :

  • https://www.amazon.com/Contagious-Things-Catch-Jonah-Berger/dp/1451686587/ref=asc_df_1451686587/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=266244150619&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=15593424840796483519&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=2840&hvtargid=pla-450630620591&psc=1
  • https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/250249