Why We Share: It’s Going Viral!

February 14th, 2012 by Megan Lindsey

Everyone out there is sharing and talking about the latest crazy thing they saw online.  “Did you see that video?” “Have you heard about that picture of [so and so]?”  We’ve all heard it.  We’ve all said it.  Viral sharing is so ingrained in our cultural subconscious that one may not even realize that this is just the beginning of 21st century marketing.

Through websites such as YouTube, StumbleUpon, Digg, Pinterest, and Facebook, we are seeing that average people, not just celebrities, are providing worldwide commercial and “niche” entertainment. Independent artists are getting their visions seen.  Video bloggers are getting their voices heard.  Little moments in life that would normally be forgotten are now being shared with the world.

But this is not just for entertainment value anymore. It can be a new jumping off point for small to big businesses that provides the opportunity to create value and ROI through the means of social sharing.

Just another Awkward Family Photo

So let’s start with the simplest question: “why?”  Why is viral marketing spreading the way it is?  Why is it that some things explode with popularity while other things are left in the world of the blind?  Instead of going through a sociological breakdown of it all, let’s just keep it simple.

1.   It’s Hilarious

  • Embarrassing Content – the worst human condition possible.  However it is always funnier when it happens to someone else.
  • Cute Content – Whether it be furry animals dancing, silly babies yapping, or an owl being petted.
  • Outrageous or Satire – Comedy skits such as Derrick Comedy and Shit Girls Say that delve into the absurdly funny.

2.  It Can Connect

  • Political Content – Videos, blogs, or pictures that represent what side of the political line we fall under
  • Personal Content – What it’s like to go through a breakup, the struggles of quitting smoking, or being insecure about one’s image are quite universal and people can relate to it.
  • Religious Content – A sharing of spiritual beliefs in a world of a thousand religions. Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus received almost 12 million views in just 5 days.

PostSecret allows people to share their secrets anonymously.

3.  It’s Shocking and or Interesting

  • Shocking – Cars flipping on the interstate, old ladies hitting police officers, or rioters being maced.  Things that we don’t normally see that prove that this is no ordinary world.
  • Interesting – Whether it be scientific research like the marshmallow test, or the broadening of a subject matter, interesting topics can keep us deep into research for hours on end.

So what does this mean for SEO?  Not only can a viral marketing piece entertain and have a mass audience buzzing,  it can be a great way to promote brand awareness and link sharing through authoritative sites.  By creating a share-worthy piece of content, companies can expect that more and more views can be achieved, thus placing their product or services deeper into the human awareness.

“Did you see that video?” “Have you heard about that picture of [so and so]?”  So the next time you hear it, the next time you say it, ask yourself why.  What’s the last thing you shared?