Going Viral

By Sylvia LeRahl | Blog

Sep 05

Every day, thousands of blogs, articles, and videos are uploaded to the Internet, ready for consumption by the masses. Most of these languish into oblivion. Yet some go viral. Their popularity surpasses expectations as the article becomes shared on Facebook, tweeted on Twitter, and emailed across the globe. These are the stories that remain in the public consciousness. For anyone who wants to reach a large audience, whether it be for fame, fortune or the future, it’s important to learn the secrets to crafting content that goes viral.

Naturally, the number one secret to Internet fame is to create compelling content. Once a polished, intriguing article is on hand, there are countless ways to increase its reach.

The two things you MUST do in order to increase the shareability of content on the web:

Evoke highly emotional responses

Articles that receive the largest number of hits are those that generate an emotional response from readers. The emotions can be positive or negative and can trigger a wide range of responses. That said, positive articles tend to get the highest ratings. There are a lot of unhappy people in the world. Crafting content that is inspiring and uplifting has the potential to lift people up out of the gloom, thereby increasing the likelihood of shares.

The three most popular emotions that viral articles evoke are awe, amusement and anger. The least share-inducing emotions are anger and sadness. Other emotions that trigger a strong response include surprise, joy, amusement, lust, and anxiety. The power of surprise cannot be overstated. If people are genuinely shocked by what is written, research shows that they are far more likely to share the information.

Craft content that is useful and practical

Once an article is through the editing process and ready for publication, take a careful look at it to determine whether it asks readers to do something and compels them to do that something. In other words, give readers a very specific action to take after reading the information.

People aren’t very skilled at applying broad concepts to their own lives. They can read an article and gloss over any notion of doing something with the information gleaned. However, if a writer can make readers do something, and that something is beneficial, the writer is remembered for it.

Asking someone to take action can involve nearly anything from researching information and making a purchase to signing a petition or donating money.

Emotions that make content become contagious


Albert Einstein once summed up the sensation of awe perfectly. “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.”

Evoking awe in a person involves showing them something remarkably beautiful or mysterious. It’s the emotion people feel when they observe the vastness of the Grand Canyon, the harmony of an orchestra, or the agility and acrobatics in Cirque du Soleil.


Fear triggers the reptilian part of a person’s brain and makes them take action. It’s a primal response that also serves as a fantastic motivator. Writers can generate this sense of fear by making readers think they are going to lose something important, or make them worry that unknowing mistakes are being made without certain information.


There are a lot of things that make people experience pleasure. An article that is funny, inspiring, or happy creates this feeling. An easy way to evoke pleasure is to tell a personal anecdote that readers connect with.


Question or challenge someone’s beliefs and you’re apt to create anger. When people are mad, they strive to attain justice. They write articles of their own, post on Facebook, and talk about it at the gym.


While sex is the most common thing people associate with lust, there are a variety of things humans lust over. Power, fame, money, and results are some examples. Tempt readers with results. Suggest that by doing the actions you recommend, they’ll gain something they lust after.


Show people something unexpected. Prove how expectations are wrong or how there’s a better way of doing something they’ve done for years. Use research to elicit surprise.

Although there are many other strategies available to increase shares for an article, these two are the most significant. They guarantee readers and memorability. Help readers feel h3 emotions and encourage them to take action. Oh, and naturally, share this article.


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