If anyone is able to calculate the exact formulae for how to make content go viral - they'd probably be the most valuable person on the internet.
This documentary gets pretty close.
It speaks to the CEO of Storyful, Rahul Chopra.
They are the brand whose algorithms scour the internet for content on the cusp of going viral, to send to digital journalists for them to write about.
Within the first minute, he gives three key factors in how to make anything go viral:
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But unfortunately, the three factors the CEO of Storyful describes aren't simple to achieve.
However, if you take the time to understand how each of these elements works, you can make your content go further.
Here are some tips based on the Chopra's equation for viral success:
Game the algorithms
Each piece of content has a platform where it should live. Once you've decided where that is, to make it go vrial, learn how the platform works.
If photo and Instagram are your game - then understand how Instagram feeds content into your timeline.
Algorithms are, of course, always changing. However, at the time of writing, Instagram is more likely to put your content in front of more eyes if it gets lots of likes quickly after upload.
So how do you get your content to go viral on Instagram?
Find a way to get lots of likes on your photo quickly after posting.
One way some Instagram users are doing this is by forming publishing groups. Everyone agrees to like each others posts, so they do well in those crucial early hours after being posted.
Know your audience's consumption habits
Sometimes the difference between viral, and standard cat videos is purely down to timing.
It can be next to impossible to get this right. However, if you put yourself in the mindset of people who will see your content, you'll have a better chance.
Think about when you are most likely to log on to Twitter or Facebook. That would be a good time to schedule a new piece of content.
Mornings and lunch times do well, as do the evening commutes. And do not forget, the Sunday night in scrollathon.
Get it in front of new media organisations
This one is the most difficult to nail, but it's a classic. Just like any marketing or PR game, get journalists to write about your content.
If your content gets picked up by a popular news site or blog it's going to get a much bigger audience.
What this lesson really is about is outreaching your work. Telling people about it.
It is one thing, to post your content. But there are tonnes out there, and chances are it will get lost after you've posted it.
The next step is to reach out to people on a one-to-one and tell them it exists. Whether that's a journalist or perhaps more useful now, an influencer with lots of followers:
The more pick up, the more viral it's likely to become.
Understand why other content has gone viral
Last but not least, learn about the history of viral content.
This podcast episode explores in depth why the Harlem Shake was so massive, what new media organisations look for in viral content they write about as well as more from Storyful CEO who defined the equation we've explored here.
Subscribe to the podcast documentary series 'The History of the Internet' to listen to more how hashtags, memes and viral trends are changing the way we communicate online and IRL.Suggest a correction