Want to go viral with your content?

The formula for creating viral content may never be fully known, but Noah Kagan thinks he has a good idea. In a post titled Why Content Goes Viral: What Analyzing 100 Million Articles Taught Us, Kagan tests the assumptions that many others will simply assert when telling you how to create content that enjoys greater numbers of page views. Long-form content gets more social shares than short-form? Kagan’s data suggests so, and as you might expect from the title of his post, the 100 million articles he has examined strongly imply that these results hold water.

Kagan sets out 10 lessons we can all implement to increase the likelihood that the content we create will go viral. Here are the top three:

Long-form content trumps short-form

In theory, the proliferation of mobile phones means that content should be shorter – people are more eager to read articles that get to the point rather than reams of research. In practice, the opposite appears to be true. Kagan found that the longer an article, the more likely it is to be shared.


People love to share infographics

Next, Kagan looks at the different type of content that people share:

– lists

– infographics

– how-to articles

– what posts (articles whose title started with the word “What”)

– why posts (articles that tried to answer a “Why” question)

– videos

The result, he found, is that infographics are the most popular type of shared content – infographics enjoyed nearly 15,000 shares in his sample. Second? It may not surprise you that lists prove the second most popular types of article to share (approximately 11,000 lists were shared).

Trustworthy content is sharable

On Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, articles authored by writers with bylines and bios were far more likely to be shared than articles missing these features.


One way of interpreting this, as Kagan suggests, is that these networks are used for professional purposes; on Facebook, content without authorship information was shared equally as content that does contain it.

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