Outstanding hosting from just $2.95/mo Free site transfers on most plansVisit Siteground > X

Five Reasons Your Awesome Content Isn’t Going Viral

Disclosure: Your support helps keep the site running! We earn a referral fee for some of the services we recommend on this page. Learn more


Prior to the rise of modern Internet culture, hearing that something (or someone) was "going viral" was generally a cause for alarm. Today, however, there are few things that create more joy in the heart of a content creator than to discover that their work—whether it's a painfully funny video, a blog post, or even a picture of the family cat—has gone viral.

Predicting exactly how and when content will go viral remains an inexact and often frustrating game of chance. For every @SochiProblems, there are thousands of would-be Twitter phenomena that die quiet deaths, unnoticed. For content creators who want to share their work with the world (while enhancing their own online success), it can seem like a kind of elusive magic.

Fortunately, while there's no way to guarantee a give piece of content will go viral, you can, by taking five factors into careful consideration, help boost the chance that your content will go viral. By creating content that's emotionally engaging, "shareworthy," well-designed, and distributed at the right times and in the right places, you're helping to stack the deck in your favor.

High-quality content should always be your first concern. And when it's emotionally charged, it helps people relate, creates a natural reaction (positive reactions are better than negative ones in this context) and boosts interest, as well as the desire to share.

What makes it "shareworthy?" In part, the emotional response it elicits (as compared to cold, dry, or otherwise less-than-engaging content). But other factors, such as humor, relatability, a core narrative (everyone enjoys a good story, well told), and the actual, practical value of the content (consider the popularity of how-to content) can help transform a great piece of content into an awesomely shareable one.

And once you've created your amazing content, don't forget to share it properly. Review the metrics from your accounts on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ help you keep track of when your customers or fans are visiting your site, as well as the times, and content, that draw the most interaction from them.

Going viral doesn't have to be an impossible dream. Understanding what your audience values, creating high-quality content that speaks to their needs and interests, and distributing it at the right times (and in the right online venues) can help improve your chances of becoming the next big thing on the Internet.

Five Reasons Your Awesome Content Isn't Going Viral

Why Your Content Isn't Going Viral

Virality can skyrocket your website to the forefront of everyone's minds, but it is impossible to predict virality. Stack the deck in your favour by not making these mistakes.

Lack of Emotional Appeal

  • Emotion is the key reason why things "catch on."
  • Appealing to certain emotions will make content potentially more viral than others.
    • Positive emotional responses tend to do better than negative emotional responses.
  • Focus on:
    • Curiousity
    • Amazement
    • Interest
    • Astonishment
    • Uncertainty
    • Admiration
    • Humor
      • Example: "Charlie Bit Me" YouTube video
        • It's funny because:
          • It's two young kids
          • Natural, unscripted
        • It's viral because:
          • Millions of people shared it
          • Many parody videos have been made.
            • Example: Charlie Bit Me Remix
  • People share emotionally charged content:
    • To make sense of their own experience
    • To deepen a social connection
    • To reduce dissonance
  • Emotional factors affecting virality
    • Speed of emotional activation
    • Level of interest
    • Content length
  • How to make your content more emotionally charged:
    • Get the reader to question themselves.
      • Use your title to grab their attention and get them thinking.
    • Come up with a different angle.
      • Present a different spin on the same old topic that readers see over and over again.
    • Write like you speak.
      • This allows your true emotion to come through.
    • Know your audience's "pain points."
      • You'll be better able to tailor your message.
  • Example:
    • Video of baby's reaction to mother's singing goes "viral."
      • Pulls on the heart strings because:
        • Young baby
        • Displaying emotion in response to her mother's voice

Not "Share Worthy"

Content that is share-worthy:

  • Strikes a chord with your audience.
    • It can be funny.
    • It can be useful.
  • 6 STEPPS to Contagious Content
    • Social Currency: Everyone wants to make themselves look good, not bad, even if it's by posting a photo of their cat.
    • Triggers: Something that is easily memorable and on the top of your mind or tip of your tongue.
    • Emotion: The more we care about something, the more likely we are to share it.
    • Public: We are more likely to share something if we see others doing the same.
    • Practice Value: Useful news that we can share with others in order to make them better off.
    • Stories: Things we share that are wrapped up in a story or narrative.
  • If you choose to make it useful, make it a solution to a real, relatable problem.
    • Finding a babysitter
    • Pet hair on furniture
    • Shopping for the right pair of jeans
    • The more practical and useful, the more likely someone is to share it.
  • Tell a story.
    • People are more likely to talk about your brand as part of a larger story.
  • Find out what matters to your audience.
    • Spend time where they are.
      • Social media websites
      • Groups/Forums
    • Use the information to craft content specifically to them.
  • Provide something that makes them feel special.
    • People who feel like they are "insiders" are more likely to spread your message for you.
    • Reward your existing fans to deepen their connection to you.
  • Provide instant gratification.
    • High quality information in bite size pieces of content.
    • Make readers' lives easier.
  • Give your readers a call to action.
  • Example:
    • Time lapse video of a woman's photoshoot to magazine spread goes viral because:
      • It speaks volumes about the entertainment industry.
      • People share it because it "speaks" to them about real beauty.

Bad Timing

  • Content timing is crucial to whether or not it goes viral.
    • Find the days and times when your content is most in-demand.
      • Times of year
      • Certain time of day
      • Around certain events
    • Example:
      • Release an "ultimate guide" related to your niche right before a major industry event.

Poor Design

  • Visual appeal matters, but is only part of the viral equation.
    • Just because something's pretty doesn't mean it will go viral.
    • Bad design could destroy a piece's viral potential.
  • Guide the eye.
    • Pay attention to where you put elements on a page.
      • Location of elements determines how likely a user will be to see it.
    • Bold and subtle colors "tell" the user where to look.
    • Contrast helps elements stand out.
    • Bigger items will draw more attention.
    • Design elements can guide users to where you want them to go.
      • Giant arrows pointing to buttons
  • Use color to your advantage.
    • Blue is associated with:
      • Stability
      • Trust
      • Loyalty
    • Red is associated with:
      • Energy
      • Danger
      • Love
    • Yellow is associated with:
      • Happiness
      • Intellect
      • Energy
    • Green is the easiest color on the eye.
      • Nature
      • Money
      • Healing
    • Orange combines the energy of red with the happiness of yellow.
      • Enthusiasm
      • Fascination
      • Creativity
    • Purple combines the energy of red, with the stability of blue.
      • Power
      • Nobility
      • Luxury
    • Black is associated with:
      • Power
      • Elegance
      • Formality
    • White is associated with:
      • Light
      • Goodness
      • Innocence

Lack of Distribution

  • Distribution can give your piece the nudge it needs to get rolling.
    • Think about your distribution channels.
      • Do you have any influential connections to start with?
        • Influential connections can help give the piece exposure it may not have otherwise gotten on its own.
      • Share it via social media channels.
      • Send it to your friends and colleagues.
    • If your content is video, go outside the YouTube box.
      • Distribute to:
        • Howcast
        • Yahoo video
        • Blip.tv
        • Vimeo
  • Give it an advertising push at launch.
    • Buy Facebook ads to increase visibility so more people see it at first.
      • People need to see it before they can share it.
    • Consider using other advertising programs such as:
      • Twitter ads
      • Google ads

Checking Your Content for Virality Potential

  • Did you sufficiently cover the topic? Is it long enough?
  • Does the content inspire emotion?
  • Does your tone convey emotion?
  • Is it useful?
  • Is it interesting?
  • Is it surprising?
  • Is the author credible/famous?
  • If the piece is intended as humor, is it actually funny?
  • Is the timing right?
  • How are you delivering the content to the audience?


WhoIsHostingThis Team

About WhoIsHostingThis Team

Our writing team comes from all over the world with diverse backgrounds in the arts and sciences. But what links them is their passion for the internet. All together they represent many decades of experience working in all facets of it -- from programming and hardware creation to website design and marketing.


Thanks for your comment. It will show here once it has been approved.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *