5 reasons some posts go viral

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.


Every wondered why some posts go viral?
Why do some pictures get shared like crazy as soon as they are posted?
Why do some videos get watched millions of times?

For some pictures and videos the explanation might be evident but for many viral ones their popularity is usually a mystery. Have you seen the Nyan cat video?

It's a video of an animated flying cat that does nothing but repeat the same move. This video was watched more than 100 million times. In order to understand why such a video went popular and why similar ones go viral you need to go back to the human brain and know few facts about the way it works.

5 reasons some posts go viral

  • 1) What is that?: Curiosity is one of the most powerful human emotions. Some Scientists say that curiosity helps us explore our environment and so improves our chances of survival. Now when i examined hundreds of viral posts i found that many of them can't be easily understood. In other words you had to keep staring at them for sometime in order to understand what's going on. When a post triggers our curiosity it's more likely to go viral
  • 2) I have never seen something like that before: Our minds were designed to ignore repetitive patterns and predictable stuff. This is why in my book How to make someone fall in love with you i said that being mysterious can increase your chance of attracting people to you. When i examined some of the most popular posts i noticed that many of them are novel. I am pretty sure you have seen a cat before and of course a bicycle but what about a picture of a cat riding a bicycle and chasing a scared dog?
  • 3) Emotionally arousing: in my previous post Why do some people share some stuff and not others i explained how emotionally arousing content is more likely to be shared than content that doesn't invoke any emotions. The more emotionally charged a post is the more likely it is to be shared. One thing to note here is that positive emotions usually lead to more shares than negative ones
  • 4) Targeting core human needs: Why did "The secret" book become so popular? of course there are many reasons but in my opinion the most important one is that most people are lazy. We humans want to get whatever we want right now and with the least effort. The book promised you can get anything fast and with minimal effort by just visualizing it or thinking about it. When you target core human needs people will respond whether you are saying real facts or just nonsense
  • 5) Totally unexpected: Posts that are shocking and emotionally arousing are more likely to get shared. So many of the viral posts i analyzed had an element of surprise. You just find something you never expected to find. Because the surprise usually invokes strong emotions it helps in making the post more popular (see also The psychology of sharing)

Why you should care?

The human mind always works the same way. A person, a product and a post can be popular for the same psychological reasons. After all when certain buttons are pushed humans get delighted and they embrace that new thing.

Whether you are trying to sell something, market a product or make yourself popular you need to understand the psychological factors that made many things around you popular. Once you understand the code you can easily use it on other things as well.

In the Ultimate guide to Developing super powers you will know how to hypnotize people, seduce them, control their minds, read their faces and be more like a super human. If you are interested in getting that kind of power then check the course out.

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