All about the Viral Content

What makes some messages likable, and others not so much?

The Holy Grail of a marketer, copywriter, journalist, publisher, video maker, blogger is viral content. Why does the thoughtless text startup cascading “likes” and “shares,” but another one, written by the author, two editors and their guardian angels, isn’t it? Virality is an extremely speculative issue, based on the myths, sixth sense, and communication studies.  

Pre Internet Viral Content

Viral Content

E-virality was born before the Internet. The first form of chain mail has begun as early as 1795. Letters from heaven were holy in content and had a goal to widened or published the word of the Lord. Some chain letters were intended to be scams or fear. Some “letters of happiness” were extraordinarily absurd such as the underpants chain letters. Send a new panty to the person who gives you the message, and put out this letter to 6 friends to get six pairs of new knickers in return. Where’s the trick?! The bootlegged recording is the main engine of e-virality. Bootlegging vinyl belle époque began almost 50 years ago with Great White Wonder by Bob Dylan and The Band. Rock’n’roll was filled with bootleg LPs and, for many fans, they endured essential supplements to official releases for over a decade. Fake copies of legal releases and mainly-live recordings became a viral phenomenon.

Eye-catching Content


Virality has many meanings, one of which refers to “what stands out as remarkable in a sea of content.” According to The Oxford Dictionary, “go viral” means “spreads rapidly on the Net through SMM and e-mail.” Indeed, virality is regarded as the greatest mystery of the Internet era. It is difficult to understand why certain content (image, video, link) gains popularity, while other ones that are similar or better in demonstration and quality doesn’t get contagious. For instance, Paul “Bear” Vasquez became suddenly famous after he posted the video has accumulated more than 45 million views on YouTube. The clip demonstrates his overwhelming happiness of a double rainbow which he named as the “Eye of God.” Paul Vasquez’ video quickly gained over one million views, when comedian and late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel linked to the video in a post on Twitter, saying that he and a friend had announced it the “funniest video in the world.”

Contagious content is the modern alternative of rumors traveled by word of mouth one person to another. It had the impression that viral content is characterised by 6th features.

Social currency

Likable content is that which has reference to actual and potential resources from presence.

Psychological triggers

A “trigger” is something easy to remember about a product or idea, helping to ensure it stays top of mind.


Messaging with an emotional ingredient is more likely to be shared. If users feel like your posts are all about you, without taking their interests, don’t expect them to participate in spreading the word.


The public element of a successful program means that it’s “built to show, built to grow.” It’s a basic concept of virality.

Practical value

Relevance is a mantra for marker or copywriter. If your post isn’t relevant, why would it go viral? Some of the viral content are those that provide practical advice.


Interesting stories communicated through generation. It helps keep your content up-to-date, keep subscribers engaged, and maybe even get them talking.

Consumers are ready to share the post if its content confirms their personal beliefs and values. According to studies, people may share because they want to:

  • give valuable and interesting content
  • express themselves
  • connect with other people
  • be involved in the world’s chaos
  • talk about what they care about.

Another study introduces the term “likeability” of a sharable message. The creator of this term (Mills, 2012) says that the viral news has an emotional and intellectual impulse. And that brings us to a key question.

What shapes virality

be content

Some items of online content are more viral than others. Scientists use a psychological approach to comprehension phenomenon and explore how emotion shapes virality. The results show that negative content is less viral than positive content. Virality is partially driven by emotional arousal. Content that evokes awe or a strong feeling of annoyance is more contagious. Content that evokes sorrow, regret, or melancholy is less eye-catching. Taken together, these conclusions shed light on why people share content and how to create more powerful viral marketing attacks.

In the article “Viral News on Social Media,” Ahmed Al-Rawi decided to compare the professionals’ assessments about contagious content and the real viral indicators.

Professionals think that people are interested in politics, economics, and international news, but in fact – not especially. Ahmed Al-Rawi introduced the most detailed a list of qualities of the news articles that could explain their virality. Let’s take a look.

  1. Positive
  2. Negative
  3. Unexpectedness
  4. Celebrities
  5. Entertainment
  6. Social significance/magnitude
  7. Humour
  8. Human interest
  9. Sexuality
  10. Animals
  11. Children
  12. Practical value or utility
  13. Conflict/violence
  14. Sadness
  15. Anger
  16. Anxious
  17. Awesome-content, evoking “holy awe”

To sum up, Al-Rawi found that the most viral news was unexpected, surprising. In the second place was report that has a great social significance (economic, political, cultural). In third place was positive content, and the fourth was mysterious, awesome content.

The definition of Awesome


What is behind the concept of awesome content?

We analyze the etymology of the word. Today, it is used by every blogger in the definition of “breathentaken,” “amazing,” “stunning,” etc. But once it meant “inspiring awe or dread.”

Awesome content is the most evident testimony how a person experiences something AWESOME that touch his deep inside. There is “holy horror” before the universe, incomprehensible and beauty of the world.

Al-Rawi’s study at Canadian Concordia University convincingly showed us that awesome content is the uncrowned king of virality. And I guess his high positions in terms of “virality” are caused by this:

“Our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness. It’s a mystery, causing ecstasy and existential horror”.

Advertisements, videos, news articles, pointing to this mystery, support the desire to live, develop, love, admire, and affect some fundamental depths in our mental state and cause deep and complex emotions. Therefore, we share these messages.

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