Going Viral

If you have been around on social media and haven’t come across [ and flinched at what the world is coming to ] this tweet then you haven’t really been around on the social media at all.

I remember being mildly amused as I came across a lot of people on my timeline RTing  ‘Nuggs for Carter’ tweet. Before I knew  it had become a rage. So much so that now NuggsForCarter is a full fledged website apart from the fact that this tweet you saw above is the most RT’ed tweet [ yes! it has beaten Ellen’ star studded selfie tweet too! ].

While the ways of social media are difficult to decipher , especially when it comes to what catches people’s fancy and picks up like wild fire , even when it concerns free nuggs for a lifetime or a kind word ‘ by someone important like Recently , Ollie’s Birthday message tweet got responses from Ellen , Russel Crowe and even the Canadian President!

What ever be the purpose of these seemingly nondescript messages floating around on our timeline every day , some reach the peaks of social fame that one merely aspires to , other fade away into oblivion like thousands of ideas and thoughts do in the obscure world of the internet.

Like I mentioned , if you have social presence , especially as a blogger it’s very unlikely that every time you’ve seen a post getting shared like hot cakes all over your social media timeline, you’ve not felt that sharp pang of utter jealousy.

Why not me? Why not my post? What will it take for me to ‘Go Viral’? If those questions haven’t crossed your mind so far then either you have reached a blogging nirvana or you are just escaping reality!

Every blogger dreams of the day when the content he or she creates becomes the talk of the town. When everyone they know shares it with everyone he may or may not know and the circle of shares grows to include complete strangers .

It could be a snap you clicked waiting in the ATM queue with a celeb that you tweeted out only to become a semi celeb yourself [which happened with an old batchmate , oh yeah!) Or the silly  signature move you invented becomes a rage on Youtube. Content goes Viral when it gets shared multiple times in a very short span of time.


Just like most things that sound simple but actually aren’t, the phenomenon of Going Viral is a widely researched and written about subject . But to think it’s as new as the internet, is a fallacy. Way back in 350 BC Aristotle defined the basics of Viral content – Ethos, Pathos and Logos. Back then ofcourse there was no social media but he did test his hypothesis of content [ in his case , a speech] to really be so persuasive and memorable that his ideas are passed on from one person to another . I came across this excellent New Yorker article that I suggest you do read that talks about the six things that can help you make your content go viral .

While the idea of credible, emotionally appealing and logical content during that bygone era probably made a lot of sense a more recently proposed theory caught my attention for being more relevant in today’s trigger happy times.

As per Jonah Berger , there are six steps to ‘virality’ . Content with Social Currency – that makes people talk to increase their social status [ by making them sound cool or smart]  . The content also has the right Triggers – something that induces top of mind recall and pushes us to think about it in our already attention starved lives . It induces Emotion – when we care enough to share something within our social group . Something of Practical value that people actually find useful and finally Stories – when we can find a narrative on which our ideas or stories can ride.

The point about us naturally sharing content with practical value rings true because most of us do wish to build our digital presence through the right associations & endorsing content that’s informative and has the synergy with our personal brand makes sense.

It comes as no surprise hence to see infographics topping the graph when it comes to type of content ranked on average shares. Info graphics combine the best of visual cues , ease of understanding and being informative.


Lists and ‘Why or How to posts’ come in next clearly being high on their shareworthy-ness because of high social currency and practical value. Which brings us to visuals. While it doesn’t need a rocket scientist to crack the mystery of how including visuals in your content or ‘visual content ‘ in itself has a high chance of going viral. Clearly if the picture in question is Beyoncé announcing the arrival of her twins or the quite infamous Trump’s vs Obama inauguration picture earlier this year.

Visual content has a high probability of checking all the boxes listed out in the STEPS philosophy of virality and we’ll be talking about that in my next post ‘Visual Storytelling’.

What as per you makes content go viral? Have you experienced that up close and person? Share in comments section or connect with me on Twitter and let’s talk.

4 thoughts on “Going Viral

  1. Very well researched post, Chandni. I do think the Stepps approach is a practical way to go about it. That being said, Bloggers should also realize that going viral is tough. It takes lots of effort and consistent, good, quality material for it to have enduring impact. Not everything we write can go viral. But deep study can help us get there. Some day.
    Shailaja Vishwanath recently posted…Surprise Party for a Tween: What I learntMy Profile

  2. Seriously, ‘Nuggs for Carter’ went viral? This is exactly why I have given up on social media, well almost. The kind of things that go viral (and also some blogs that have huge readerships) are so not worth it. I am amazed that there is actually a formula for what goes viral. Try as I might I cannot wrap my head around it. As a lay person I do understand that posts with pictures look better, or ones with subheads are easy to understand for a busy reader and that’s as far as I’ll go.
    Obsessivemom recently posted…The trouble with being a good girlMy Profile

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