The links, pictures, and videos we share on social media may seem trivial—but knowing what makes something go viral can make you a better communicator.
What can we learn from the links on our social media feeds?
Be brief. Ever watched a popular YouTube video that's more than a few minutes long? Viral content competes for viewership with millions of other online distractions. The longer or more complex is it, the less likely it is to be shared. To keep your audience engaged, keep your message brief.
Value the visuals. One of the most popular tweets of all time was President Obama’s 2012 victory message. The striking image of the president hugging his wife is ultimately what makes this tweet so compelling. In a 140-character tweet a picture truly is worth a thousand words. But a longer message can also benefit from powerful visuals.
Hook them with a headline. Upworthy, an increasingly popular viral sharing site, uses intriguing headlines (example: “Watch A Powerful Twist Happen As A Girl Grows Up A Second Per Day”) so viewers watch and share their content.
Emotion is glue. There’s a reason cats are so popular on the internet: they’re cute! Emotional reactions to cute photos, funny videos, or feel-good tales transcend language and culture barriers. Throw in a touching story or use humor to connect your audience to your message.
The next time you open Facebook, take a closer look at what’s being shared—a cute puppy video may give valuable insight into how to be a better communicator.