Looking behind the myth of why we share online.
You've heard about this whole "viral" thing, right?
That hilarious video that got over one'million views in under an hour, that crazy, colorful game hidden as an Easter egg on a popular news website, or the article that explained how to hack into your favorite gaming console, all are prime examples of "viral" content. Articles, videos, games, and everything in'between that is not only shareable, but really, really worth sharing.
Content that is shared repeatedly (what, in case you missed it, we call viral content) may increase site revenue, conversions, signups, subscribes, and any other metric of success you can imagine. Or at the very least increase awareness. Because of this fact, it's not hard to see why sharing is essential to success in the online valley of business.
So what does it take to make a short blog post or how'to video or fun site Easter egg really shareable? How can one video featuring a quirky cat get millions and millions of plays when there are already billions of similar cat videos out there on the web?
One of the most common beliefs behind what makes content go viral is that the content is merely easy to share.
Slap some large "tweet this" or "recommend this to your friends" buttons on your blog and your readers will start spreading your ideas for you, instantly. Write a blog post that's humorous, quirky, or even insightful enough " and ensure that a "share this" button is the first thing your readers see when they come to your website " and the content will go viral, right?
Believing that simply adding a "share this" button to your website will make it go viral is the most common viral marketing myth, one that continues to be spread from marketer to marketer despite the evidence against it. The myth of why we share online is unfortunately viral itself. If you truly believe that simply making it easy to share your content online will increase the likelihood of it going viral,
you're an idiot you're less smart than you think. Sorry Charlie.
Sure, there are exceptions to this myth, some of the time, but for the most part: to really create content that is shared repeatedly online, you must focus on the most important part of any content worth sharing: how it makes you feel.
As it turns out, things that appeal to our basic human emotions are what get shared easily and often.
If your content makes people feel happy, sad, angered, loved, strong, thankful, intrigued, or afraid (just to name a few) then it's prime material for sharing.
That video of a cat repeatedly jumping in and out of a box? It makes people feel happy most of the time, so they're more likely to share it. A touching story of how one man photographed his Father's last days alive makes us feel sad and likely moved, as a result we're more likely to pass it along to a friend.
If your content isn't stirring up feelings in your audience, you're failing at your job. Rather than writing an article merely about your favorite hobby, try telling a story or taking a unique approach to invoke feelings in your readers. If your readers feel something as a result of reading or watching or playing with your content, they'll want to pass those feelings along to somebody else.
So, the next time you want to create something that makes an impact online, be sure to include the "share this" button, but also " and what is more important " stop making the mistake of believing that what you've created will get shared just because it can.
Remember that it takes feelings to make something worth sharing. Without feelings, you're wasting all of our time.
Now I have to ask, after reading this article, how do you feel?