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The key to making a video go viral

viral videosIt’s the holy grail of sorts – the ability to make a video go viral on command. While no one’s claimed to have found the exact formula to make it happen, a number of scientific studies have been published lately that hint at the key.

Some of the studies have become quite public. For instance the Facebook study that controlled the types of posts a member would see. They assessed whether positive or negative posts would cause people to share more, or less. The study basically proved emotions shared on a social network are contagious, whether positive or negative.

A study more focused on video examined a similar concept: Which emotions drive the sharing of video more? The results, summarized in a blog post on (the original study is available here), reveal that positive emotions result in more shares than negative ones. But also that strong negative emotions also move people to share videos more when compared to ones that don’t evoke much emotion at all.

The evidence offers proof for a concept called “emotional contagion”. This is when people’s emotional states can be changed by interacting with others on social media or with the content those others share. We all know this is true in personal relations. Walk into a room with a grumpy person and you might find yourself feeling grumpier too. Yet when someone you’re talking with is smiling and laughing, it’s hard to not to smile too. You just might end up laughing with them.

But these studies above show the same effect can happen virtually. And capitalising on that is the key to videos with the potential to go viral.

So while you can’t “create” viral videos per se, creating ones that effectively evoke strong emotions is more likely to have people sharing them like crazy.

Oliver Burt

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