Fifteen Minutes of Fame: The Science of Virality.

Posted: March 23, 2018 by Angela Corbett


Here’s your fun fact of the day: a common hate bonds you better with people than a common passion.

Mind blown? No?

What if I told you a secret about how the Internet works?

Got your attention now?

Well, for as long as you’ve been able to put content on the Internet — things have been going viral. And for as long as things have been going viral, people have been trying to figure out “What makes a viral video?”

And now, thanks to science we have our answer. According to research done by fine folks at Wharton School there are three reasons why people share things:

  • They want to look smart. (People typically share things that are useful, or informative.)
  • They want to connect better to their friends — by sharing stuff. Cause, yanno, sharing is caring, y’all.
  • They want to “equalize the emotional impact of content they consume.” That’s a nice way of saying people want to share the messed up feeling they have. (It’s the visual equivalent of “Oh Jesus! Smell this!”)

And as I’ve mentioned before — anger bonds people better than other emotions. And content that makes people angry performs a whopping 34% above average, as compared to other content.

Now, don’t get super nervous just yet. I’m not suggesting that you sent out to make content just to make people angry.

Awe-inspiring content and practical/useful content perform almost as well, performing 30% better than average as well.

The only emotion, it seems, you should really stay away from is soul-crushing sadness — “sad” content performed (predictably) 13% worse than other content.

(I mean, that makes sense. Who wants to bum people out?)

All that information too much for you? Too many numbers? Here’s the big takeaway:

You’ve gotta create content with soul if you want it to go anywhere. See what emotions you want to elicit, and then crank that to 11 to make sure that your stuff gets the widest reach possible.

And you know, Jeffrey is a guy who’s in touch with his emotions. So if you need something to sail across the wide, wide web, we do, actually know what we’re doing.

We’ve created viral content ourselves. Ask Derek Carr.

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