Why Content Goes Viral: What Analyzing 100 Million Articles Taught Us.

A few weeks ago someone sent me a link to the BuzzSumo website. It is a gold mine of data regarding what content is the most shared across any topic. Cha-Ching. So I reached out to the company to help understand what the main ingredients for insanely shareable content are. You may have seen some articles related to this but this is backed by pure data. Use their knowledge with caution.


Take it away Sumo brothers…


Note: Click here to get the free SumoMe Share app on your website

Here at BuzzSumo, we’ve analyzed the social share counts of over 100 million articles in the past 8 months. So it’s fair to say we have a pretty good idea of what gets shared the most.

There’s always been some nagging questions that we’ve wanted to answer. We came up with this set of questions, hoping to challenge popular assumptions on how to make your content go viral:

– What types of emotions did the most popular articles invoke?

– What type of posts typically receive a lot of shares? (lists? infographics?)

– Did readers love to share short form or long form content? What’s the ideal length?

– Does trust play a major role on whether someone will share an article?

– What’s the effect of having just one image in a post vs no images?

– What’s the effect of having just one influencer sharing your article vs 0?

– How do we make people share our post days and even weeks after it’s been published?

– What’s the best day of the week to publish an article?

Of course, the prerequisite to getting your content shared widely is to write compelling content.

There’s just no replacement for that. But once you’ve written a well-crafted, useful article, there are some additional things you can do to help increase its reach.

Here are 10 ingredients that will help increase the shareability of your content:

Download a PDF of All 10 Ingredients

1) Long form content gets more social shares than short form content.

We’ve all heard stats on how more people are consuming content through their mobile devices. Which means we better write short, bite-sized content to satisfy their short attention spans, right?

We analyzed the top 10% most shared articles to see if this was the case. And according to our research, the opposite is true. On average, long-form content actually gets shared more than short-form content.

If you look at the chart below, the longer the content, the more shares it gets, with 3000-10000 word pieces getting the most average shares (8859 total average shares). Not surprisingly, there was a lot more short-form content being written. How much more? There were 16 times more content with less than 1000 words than there were content with 2000+ words.

Shares by Content Length

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What does this tell us? It tells us that most people just aren’t willing to create in-depth, well-researched articles packed with insights. They just don’t want to put in the time and effort. Which means there’s probably a lot more opportunities for you to do so. Because there just isn’t as many long-form content creators to compete with.

Our findings were consistent with what researchers discovered about the most emailed posts in The NY Times: longer articles were more likely to be emailed than shorter articles.

The fact is that, yes people love to share LOL cat pics and funny memes, but they also want to share intellectually challenging, long-form content. Since the web is inundated with the former, you’re better off spending your time writing that one epic piece of content instead of writing lots of short, fluffy pieces.

There’s just less competition, and as a result, it’s easier to stand out.

Key Ingredient: Aim for at least 2,000 words per post. Click to Tweet

2) Having at least one image in your post leads to more Facebook shares

We’ve all hear experts tell us visually compelling images increases engagement, but that only applies to social posts on Facebook, right? What about actual written content?

This time, we analyzed all the articles we’ve crawled in BuzzSumo to compare the average number of Facebook shares of content with 1+ images to content with 0 images.

The following chart shows our findings:

With or Without Images

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As you can see, twice as many people, on average share posts with at least one image in the post, underscoring the importance of having visual elements mixed in with bodies of text. Keep in mind though, we didn’t do any analysis on how visually appealing these images were, just the presence of an image.

What about social meta tags for Facebook? We were curious whether publishers that implemented these tags, specifically the preview image received more Facebook shares, on average. Again, we’d expected this to be true, but we wanted to see how dramatic this difference was. By the way, for those not familiar, if you wanted Facebook to show a specific preview image, you’d need to implement this meta tag in the <head> section of your article:

<meta property=”og:image” content=”http://example.com/image.jpg” />

Facebook Thumbnail

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As you can see, articles that implemented the Facebook preview image meta tag had more than three times as many Facebook shares + likes than those that didn’t.

Key Ingredient: Implement those social meta tags and add a photo to EVERY post! They determine what potential readers see before they even visit your article. Click to Tweet

3) Having at least one image in your post leads to more Twitter shares

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the same above is very much true for Twitter as well. Posts with the OpenGraph image tag did substantially better on Twitter than those without:

Twitter Thumbnail

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Key Ingredient: Adding images to your content and posts will help it get shared on Twitter as well as Facebook!Click to Tweet

4) Invoke awe, laughter, or amusement. Appeal to people’s narcissistic side

We analyzed the top 10,000 most shared articles across the web, and mapped each one to an emotion, such as joy, sadness, anger, amusement, laughter, etc. Here is how the breakdown of emotions looked like:

Popular Emotions

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As you can see, the most popular 3 emotions invoked were:

  • awe (25%)
  • laughter (17%)
  • and amusement (15%).

Conversely, the least popular emotions were sadness and anger, which made up 7%.

* Note the difference between laughter and amusement were blurry at times, but we define amusement as being entertained, and not laugh out loud funny

Why do people share things that inspire awe, laughter and amusement? We don’t have a scientific reason for it, but The New York Times did a very intensive research study a few years back. They interviewed 2500 people to determine the primary reasons they shared a story online. These were the main reasons:

-To bring valuable and entertaining content to one another

-To define themselves to others (give people a better sense of who they are)

-To grow and nourish relationships (stay connected with others)

-For self-fulfillment (to feel more involved in the world)

-To get the word out on causes they care about.

Awe-inspiring and funny content definitely fulfill the first three reasons. Sharing entertaining content brings value to our friends, shows others we have great taste, and spurs conversation and reactions.

People also share for selfish reasons, like narcissism.

In fact, 8 of the top 10 most shared articles in the past 8 months were quizzes (7 from BuzzFeed, 1 from the NY Times). Why quizzes? Because when we share our quiz results, it fuels our identity and ego. Others will learn more about who we are, what we value, and our tastes. Think about the last time you shared a quiz. Do you really think 90% of your Facebook friends actually care? No, but the few that do will know what a cool person you are. Similarly, sharing an opinionated piece about a hot issue, such as gay marriage lets others know where we stand on the issue.

For reference, here were 6 of the 10 most shared articles in the past 8 months, with the quiz “What Career Should You Actually Have” in the #1 spot.

Oprah Career

What Career Should You Actually Have?

What Kind Of Dog Are You?

What State Do You Actually Belong In?

How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk

What City Should You Actually Live In?

Which Decade Do You Actually Belong In?

Key Ingredients:

-Be entertaining…nobody wants to bore their friends. Click to Tweet

-Quizzes work…people share content that helps them identify who they are.

-Have an opinion…being controversial may divide the crowds, but those who agree with you are more likely to share your content.

5) People love to share lists and infographics

We also set out to see what content formats people were more likely to share. So we classified each article in our analysis into six types:

– 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

Here is a chart with our findings:

Shares by Content Type

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*Note: All Content is the average shares of all content we analyzed, and is meant to be a benchmark.

This may be obvious to some, but list posts and infographics receive more average shares than other content types.

More surprisingly, how-to posts and videos receive less shares than the average post.

There are many possible reasons why list posts get shared the most. Lists give the readers an exact idea on what to expect (i.e. 10 ways to do something). They’re also skim-friendly and easy to read.

Similarly, infographics make it easier to digest a huge amount of information in a visually appealing way. So make sure your content has plenty of images or charts, so readers aren’t intimidated by so much text.

Key ingredient: If you’re writing long-form content, remember to keep it easier to scan, and not a wall of text. Structuring it as a list post is a simple way to do that, but if you’re not writing a list, make sure you write easy to read paragraphs, and use sub-headlines and bullet points. Click to Tweet

6) 10 is the magic number for lists

This was not surprising: 10 item lists on average received the most social shares – on average 10,621 social shares. In fact, they had 4 times as many social shares on average than the 2nd most popular list number: 23. The runner-ups were 23, 16, and 24.

Top 10 Ways

Key Ingredient: If you’re writing a list post, try to round it up or down to 10 items. Click to Tweet

7) People tend to share content that looks trustworthy

We were curious to see if trust played a role on whether someone would share an article. So we compared the average social shares for articles with no byline or bio, and articles with a byline or bio.

It turns out that trust does play a major role in Twitter, Linkedin , and Google+, as you can see from the chart below.


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The numbers are normalized below to 100, as the absolute numbers aren’t important, just the difference.

However, trust doesn’t seem to make a difference in Facebook. Articles with a byline or bio have 0.10% more social shares than those without a byline/bio. In contrast, in Google+, articles with a byline/bio have 42% more social shares than those without a byline or bio.

The fact that trust doesn’t play a major role in Facebook suggests that we share different types of content in each social network. We usually sharing entertaining, funny content on Facebook with our close friends.

But on Twitter, Linkedin, and Google+, most of our followers are people we are associated with professionally. So we prefer to share content from a trustworthy source to build our thought leadership.

Key Ingredient: Remember to have a byline at the beginning of every post, and a bio at the end to make your content look trustworthy. Click to Tweet

8) Getting one extra influencer to share your article has a multiplier effect.

Not all sharers are created equal. After all, if Oprah or Tim Ferriss shared your article with their followers, it will generate much more retweets/likes than if a random person shared it.

Retweeted by Tim Ferriss

But can we quantify that effect? Forget Oprah or even Tim Ferriss. What if someone a bit more influential than the average person shares your content? How many more additional people will share it as a result of that? Can we predict that?

We compared the number of social shares of articles that had 0 influential sharers to content that had > 0 influential sharers.

To formalize things, we define “influencer” as someone whose tweets are retweeted on average two times. For instance, if you tweeted 100 times total, and 200 people retweeted those tweets, the average retweets would be 2.0 (This sounds like a low number, but for comparison, someone like Noah Kagan has an average retweet of 4.5)

As you can see from the chart below, just having one influential person sharing your content resulted in 31.8% more social shares. Having three influential people sharing your content doubled the number of social shares. And having five influential people sharing your content almost quadrupled the total number of social shares for an article.

Number of Influencers Sharing

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That’s great, but how do you get more influencers to share your content without relying on blind luck?

One way is to work backwards. Instead of writing your content first, find a piece of content that is similar to the one you want to produce, and see all the influencers that shared it. Then start building a relationship with those influencers before you launch your post.

For instance, let’s say you want to write an article about “conversion optimization”. With BuzzSumo, you can find the most shared articles on conversion optimization in the past 6 months using the Top Content Search.

You’ll see a list of results like below:

Top Content Results

The first result has 2,039 shares, and is from conversionxl.com. You can see who shared this article by clicking on the “View Sharers” button. There you’ll see a list of people who shared this article on Twitter, sorted by average retweets. In other words, it’s sorted by their influence level.

Here’s what that looks like:

Users That Shared

There are a couple of other useful fields you’ll see for each sharer, including the number of followers they have, and their reply ratio (% of tweets that are direct replies to someone). While number of followers is a more common metric people use to measure influence, it can easily be faked. Average retweets on the other hand, is very hard to fake (or not as likely).

You probably have to do this for more than one article to compile a list of influencers you want to share your content, but once you have this list, you should try to reach out to each of them and get them involved in your content in some way such as:

-Asking them for a quote you’ll use in your article

-Asking them a question to get feedback on an idea

-Linking to something they wrote about your topic.

People love to share things they’ve been involved in, even if they weren’t involved in it directly. If you can do that somehow, they’ll more likely to share your article with their followers after you’ve published it.

Interviewing people can also be a great way to get them involved. At BuzzSumo, our most shared blog post had over 500+ shares. We interviewed over 40 people in the SEO industry and everyone of those interviewees shared their post with their audience. Here’s a screenshot of a tweet we sent asking people if they’d like to be interviewed. Most of the responses were very positive.

Tweet Request

Key Ingredient: Incorporate and ask influential people into your content to significantly increase your sharing. Click to Tweet

9) Repromote your old content on a regular basis.

The next thing we analyzed is the % drop in social shares after you’ve published your post for 3 days. Most people will share your post in the first few days, and then those shares will taper off, but by how much?

The result was rather depressing. After 3 days, on all social networks, the number of shares dropped at least 96% for the next 4 days, with Facebook shares dropping the most, and G+/Pinterest dropping the least.

Facebook: 98.9% decrease
Twitter: 97.4% decrease
LinkedIn: 97.34% decrease
G+: 96.7% decrease
Pinterest: 96.7% decrease

After a week, the number of shares for the next 3 weeks drops at least 86% from the first week, with Twitter shares dropping the most, and Linkedin shares dropping the least.

Twitter: 92.1% decrease
G+: 90% decrease
Facebook: 89% decrease
Pinterest: 86% decrease
LinkedIn: 82% decrease

This is inevitable, right? Well, we decided to analyze the anomalies – the articles that actually had more social shares after a week had passed, and see how they pulled off such a feat.

One of those articles was a blog post by Evernote published on March 10th that only garnered 23 facebook shares after a week. However, after a month, it had a total of 181 shares, an increase of 686% after 3 days.

Evernote March 10

After doing some digging up, we saw the reason why: they repromoted that post 11 days on Facebook after it was published, as you can see below:

Evernote March 21

We don’t have any hard data on the ideal time period to wait before promoting an article again, but at least 1 week is a good starting point. Here, Evernote published their piece on a Monday, and promoting it on a Friday the next week. A solid strategy would be to promote pieces you write on Friday and weekends on a more popular day like Monday a week later. This will ensure all your posts get the same amount of exposure.

Of course, a prerequisite of this is to write evergreen content, since it can be shared and repromoted anytime after you’ve published it.

But what if your old posts aren’t evergreen? There’s still a way to promote old posts if it ties into an upcoming event. For example, we found an infographic about influencers to meet in SMWW (a social media marketing conference) that had 72 twitter shares after a week, but 487 whopping Twitter shares after a month. What was their secret?

The infographic was published initially on March 10th, and then shared again on Twitter the day of the conference: March 28th. This timely share dramatically increased the number of Twitter shares.


Key Ingredient: Don’t let your content be a 1-hit wonder! Repromote your old posts at least a week after it’s been published. Alternatively, find old content that ties into an upcoming event/holiday, and repromote that the day of the event. Click to Tweet

10) The best day overall to publish content for social shares is Tuesday

The day of the week you publish your content on can have a big effect on how much it is shared. Take a look at the chart below, showing the number total shares by day of week for all the content we analysed:

Best Day to Publish Social Content is Tuesday

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You can clearly see that more content is shared during the week, with the start of each week seeing the highest volume of shares.  Generally content gets the most shares on Tuesday or Monday, depending on the social network:

Best Day Overall: Tuesday
Best Day For FB: Tuesday
Best Day for G+: Tuesday
Best Day for Twitter: Tuesday
Best Day for Linkedin: Monday
Best Day for Pinterest: Monday


To summarize, here are some data-driven insights you should be aware of when creating highly shareable content:

  1. Inspire awe, laughter, or amusement.
  2. Appeal to people’s narcissistic side (think BuzzFeed quizzes)
  3. Long-form content has less competition, and more shares on average.
  4. List posts and infographics are more likely to be shared.
  5. Make sure your article inspires trust. Have a byline, and bio. Make sure you have a professional logo and design as well.
  6. Mix text with visually appealing elements.
  7. Implement social metadata such as the Facebook preview image
  8. Reach out to influencers before you write your content.
  9. Promote your articles after it’s been published for a week
  10. Tuesday is the best day to publish and promote content

Get these 10 ingredients in a PDF to go (yours forever)

Of course, some things do depend on your niche. If your audience really is into LOLCat pics, writing long-form content probably isn’t worthwhile.

If you really want to see what content resonates for your target audience, I recommend doing a BuzzSumo search on your topic/industry, and see what types of posts get the most social shares.

You can even do a search for your competitor’s domain, to see what types of content gets shared the most for your competitor. For example, here’s what the most shared posts for Tim Ferriss’ blog looks when you enter fourhourworkweek.com:

Buzzsumo Competitors Domain

Do you have any tips/techniques on getting your content shared by as many people as possible?

Share a tip in the comments below, and we’ll tweet a Starbucks gift card to the person with the best tip. We’ll also give you a free month of BuzzSumo Pro when we launch Pro Plans later this year.

Happy Cooking,
The Buzzsumo Team

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101 responses to “Why Content Goes Viral: What Analyzing 100 Million Articles Taught Us.”

April 22, 2014 at 5:06 am

Viral = Value? What does virality matter if your buzzfeed post is complete garbage to simply drive ADD eyeballs to your website to increase your ad revenue? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vU1EiKys_Uk

Henley Wing
April 22, 2014 at 7:52 pm

You’re right, it’s not all about the eyeballs. However, it doesn’t hurt to optimize your content so you can increase its reach.

June 5, 2014 at 7:43 am

Viral definitely doesn’t equal value BUT it certainly doesn’t hurt to get a lot of eyes on your content. Perhaps the post itself isn’t necessarily value but if your blog is quality, when people come over, they will see what else you have to offer, and potentially convert. It’s also great from a link building perspective.

Andre Campbell
December 18, 2014 at 5:31 pm

Viral might not necessarily equal value. But value generally equals viral. Create a quality post and put it in the hands of the write people, there is no doubt that it’ll be shared by many.

November 6, 2015 at 3:16 pm

You also need the “right” grammar… not the *write* people… 🙂

April 22, 2014 at 5:32 am

I ask.

A few people.

So, it may be a little labor intensive, but I’ll put a post up somewhere (with a call to action, with a picture, using a lot of the suggestions here) AND THEN I make a handwritten list of 15 people.

These are people who I “think” have a community reach that would find the article/podcast/event that I’m sharing interesting. And then…I call them on the phone. I know, old school… I say something like:

“Hey, it’s Jason. I just posted a podcast – and I know that the people who listen to you would like to listen to it. Can I send you a few tweets/updates/paragraphs to share with your community?”

I get a few shares each week…

Henley Wing
April 22, 2014 at 7:53 pm

Indeed, that’s very old school, but sometimes calling someone is the most effective way to reach them.

April 22, 2014 at 6:22 am

Great research! I have personally noticed that I get more shares on linkedin than on fb during the day probably since most of my target audience is on their work computer where fb but not linkedin, is blocked off. I’m still trying to figure out what type of image (inspirational, career focused, funny) cube dwellers like to reshare.

Henley Wing
April 22, 2014 at 7:54 pm

When all else fails, just put up a Dilbert comic 🙂

Joao Paulo
May 1, 2014 at 1:58 am

Heh, Dilbert never grows old 🙂

Tyler V
April 22, 2014 at 6:23 am

When repromoting an old post, I’ve found extracting a memorable line or quote instead of just the post title helps with the number of shares. And adding ‘click to tweet’ lines throughout also helps.

Henley Wing
April 22, 2014 at 7:53 pm

I find that very effective too, especially if I’m interviewing a bunch of people in the post.

Eugene Hennie
April 22, 2014 at 7:53 am

If you make people feel and appear intelligent to their peers they are more inclined to share. Nice

June 26, 2016 at 9:36 am

That’s the most useful tip I’ve ever heard ! Thanks 😀

April 22, 2014 at 7:55 am

Hey Noah

Nice brother!

What has worked really nice for me recently is to give people the ‘steps’ to solving their problem, but then giving away something that makes the whole process a lot easier.
Strategically this is given away by either email (as most people do), but depending on the objective I would throw in the ‘pay with social media’ function.

Here is an example of me using Pay with a Tweet:
(My apologies for link dropping, but it’s the only way to show what I’m talking about for those that don’t know) – http://growthnerd.com/4-steps-reveal-your-ideal-customer/

In the above piece I wrote a nice meaty piece (using Scrivener – thanks to Appsumo 🙂 ) on how to build a target customer profile. I go a step further then by giving away the actual template for getting it done easier.

It’s gotten really nice shares and solid spike in visitors. Got a few hundred unique visits from it and I didn’t market this to any influencers at all. Just tweeted about it, shared it on Facebook and Google+ and it went from there.

The key is to make sure your content is quality and that it solves a problem otherwise you’re not getting jack squat shared.


p.s – keep up the great posts!

Henley Wing
April 22, 2014 at 7:54 pm

Great tip! Sometimes you have to give people your secret sauce to build an audience.

James Welch
April 22, 2014 at 8:58 am

Brilliant post. I, too, have seen amazing things by just getting a couple of influencers to retweet a post.

Liz Froment
April 22, 2014 at 10:01 am

Wow! What an epic post, thank you for this. I’ve found some success being as Gary V coined it a “social DJ,” using a combination of sharing other really good long form posts (like this) that are of value/interesting/funny and then adding in my own content as well. Absolutely going to keep all these tips in mind!

Angus Frame
April 22, 2014 at 10:30 am

This is very interesting. Is it possible to put a finer slice on the article length data? I suspect based on observation and my own behaviour that articles from 50-200 words are shareable; articles from 200-800 words are dead and articles over 800 words are meaty enough to get passed along. Can this be validated?

Jason Dea
April 22, 2014 at 11:07 am

This is an awesome article! This afternoon I’ll be writing a blog post entitled “What career should you actually have?” lol 😉 I love to see statistics supporting the various theories floating around online.

John Paricka
April 22, 2014 at 2:39 pm

Looks like I have to post on Tuesdays! There’s some great tips in here. Definitely going to implement some of this advice. Thanks.

Gene Eugenio
April 22, 2014 at 3:10 pm

As a writer, I try to make all the stuff I write go viral. Your post has really opened my eyes to the necessity of having a CHECKLIST for all viral elements a blog post or article must have before I click the SUBMIT button. Thank you for your hard work and effort. You definitely made a BuzzSumo convert out of me!

Henley Wing
April 22, 2014 at 7:55 pm

Glad you enjoyed the insights here, Gene. Hope you find BuzzSumo helpful as well!

Brian Lang
April 22, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Awesome post Henley and Noah – packed with great information. I suppose it’s no coincidence that there are 10 points in here and that this post was also published on Tuesday. 😉

I can attest to the power of list posts. Some bloggers never use them, but surprisingly they often outperform detailed how to guides and posts that I’ve written.

April 22, 2014 at 10:31 pm

Very interesting and quite a good read on Wednesday Morning. I usually run a manual search to curate people who share the content in same niche i.e for my seo blog I find out relevant people (normal and influencers) and try to engage them. Ultimately they all help me to promote my blog posts.

Sometimes I visit their blogs and comment on them like i did here and try to add value. There is no hard and fast formula to make your content viral so whatever works for you is the best for you!

April 22, 2014 at 11:00 pm

Extermely interesting post. Thanks for sharing.

April 22, 2014 at 11:29 pm

This is what you call an in-depth article! Talk about pearls of wisdom, so called content kings, queens and princesses (I speak for myself) – this article is a fountain of knowledge, to be taken advantage of I would say.

Robin Warren
April 22, 2014 at 11:59 pm

One further tip is to look for the influencers already in your audience when trying to build relationships, they may be an easier sell as they already know and are interested in you. I am building a site to help find those influencers in your email list at http://hulimail.com, if anyone is interested in joining the beta drop me an email, robin at the domain above 🙂

Gavin James
April 23, 2014 at 12:29 am

Do you have any data for content length and the inclusion of images increasing the likelihood of social sharing? I’m wondering whether shorter content with an image included can still generate social sharing?

Henley Wing
April 23, 2014 at 8:02 pm

Well, we analyzed 100 million articles, and found that longer content with images tend to garner more shares on average, than shorter content. Short form content can definitely still garner shares, it’s just that there’s so much of it published daily, and a low % of them get shared widely. But that’s not the case for long-form content, we discovered.

April 23, 2014 at 1:48 am

True for America… Not true with South East Asia.

April 23, 2014 at 2:51 am

And this article certainly practiced what its preaching:

Reason 1: Long form content gets more social shares than short form content. (I estimate 2,000-3,000 words for this article)

Reason 2&3: Has at least one image (dozens of images on this article)

Reason 4: I am at awe with this piece/article.

Reason 5: This article talks about a list.

Reason 6: There are 10 items on the list (magic 10!)

Reason 7: Buzzsumo seems to be credible source

Reason 8: Extra influencer? A blogger brought me here via facebook.

Reason 9: Not sure about this one…but buzzsumo may something like this before

Reason 10: The article was posted on April 21 – a monday but since I live here in the Philippines…several hours ahead, that makes it Tuesday for me 🙂

Great piece! Kudos!

Chris Raymond
April 23, 2014 at 9:08 am

What a FANTASTIC post. Lots of useful information even for the education-focused sites I work on in my job. Thanks for the work!

Henley Wing
April 23, 2014 at 8:01 pm

Glad you found this useful, Chris!

April 23, 2014 at 9:37 am

Very instructive post with some really good strategies to keep in mind. I am now going to download the PDF and refer to it all the time. Thanks.

April 23, 2014 at 11:45 am

Something which might work fantastically well: if you could somehow get your college professors to share your content, say, by producing something that’s related to what they taught you…they could use you as a case study to their students and you’d score a .edu backlink!

April 24, 2014 at 5:08 am

I’d just love to share this magnificient and useful piece of content with my French speaking readers. Is there any way I can get permission to translate that (with the right attribution, of course)?

Jason Lange
April 25, 2014 at 10:17 am

This is one of the best articles I have read in a long time! Thank you for providing such useful and actionable information!

April 25, 2014 at 10:21 am

Awesome post. Liked #6. I’ve had an article on draft for over a week on that ties in with that subject. I’ll reference this post. Look forward to the next one!

April 25, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Interesting finding re: long-form content. I personally find that my audience also prefers longer posts, but was always told the opposite was true! Thanks for sharing.

Fervil Von
April 25, 2014 at 9:51 pm

Henley and Noah, thanks for compiling this heap data. It really helped a lot especially the value of putting images as well as making Tuesday your favorite day!

It’s amazing to get in touch with influencers, I had a chance to interview some influencers in my niche and noted them about the published article. And it have had done it. I got more shares in few days.

April 28, 2014 at 11:29 am

The wealth of info in this post is baking my noodle! I will need to lie down and eat at least 10 tacos before I re read. Great stuff! Going to give a few a whirl post haste.

April 29, 2014 at 10:22 am

You can always trust a ‘study’ that doesn’t disclose its methodology in any helpful way. How are you defining emotions? How are you parsing texts and assigning them to emotional responses? How is this anything but a mix of the same old new-media ‘virality’ bs with the word ‘data’ thrown in every paragraph or so?

Erez Rothem
April 29, 2014 at 3:28 pm

This research is a great addition and a must to any content manager.
I read every word and enjoyed it.
Thank you of doing this.

Hugh Grigg
April 29, 2014 at 6:23 pm

This is useful and insightful research. It’s important to remember, though, that correlation is not causation. There seems to be an assumption through all of this (and the multitude of similar content that is being produce on this theme) that what occurred together in the past is more likely to occur together in the future. I’d say this is like trying to predict the stock market.

April 30, 2014 at 1:48 pm

Good article Thanks

Tony Gnau
May 1, 2014 at 4:45 am

Very interesting stuff… especially the part about emotions. Did you guys come to any conclusions on video shares?

May 1, 2014 at 7:31 am

I will defiantly share it 🙂

May 3, 2014 at 9:16 am

One of the most comprehensive guides I’ve ever read on the topic! I’m a living example of all the points in the article. One of my posts went viral (mostly on FB) and so far has been shared more than 5.3K times. It is a long detailed article (more than 4000 words, many pictures, and useful for the readers.

The main key for me has been the influential bloggers/pages that promoted it on their social media, as well as using extracts of my comments in other articles.

The idea of keeping promoting the post weeks after its pubblication is also a good strategy!

May 5, 2014 at 2:40 am

A book, The Tipping Point provides brilliant insights about the same topic! Worth a read!

Stephanie Manley
May 22, 2014 at 6:37 am

This has to be one of the best articles I have read in a long, long time. There is so much meat in this one. I have been referring back to this one for days. Thank you.

Annette Walker
June 4, 2014 at 9:04 am

Good info on a fascinating topic. For further reading, I highly recommend “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” by Jonah Berger. He identifies 6 principles behind content going viral. Gives explanations & examples that cover thinks like social currency, which emotions prompt or PREVENT something from going viral, triggers, practical value.

One of my favorite examples from the book is about the photo gallery of the bankrupt, decaying city of Detroit. Which got more shares, the photos with homeless people, or ones of just buildings? Awe and anxiety/anger are more viral than sadness.

There will always be haters out there who dis trying to make something go viral. They miss the point that it’s about making content more appealing by making it appeal to human nature. Understanding human nature is what it’s about. I’m a tech geek. That’s why I avidly read topics like this. I need help in getting messages across better.

There’s so much good content out there that doesn’t get the reach it deserves. Knowing how to make your content more shareable helps. This is relevant even for non-profits, governments and school boards of education who struggle with getting things funded, passed, supported.

Raja Kamil
June 30, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Great post. I ever wonder, why my post on Facebook get more viral, than post on my blog.

Plumber Burwood
July 23, 2014 at 12:49 am

I agree, the point there is that.
Contents is nothing, if there is no social medias..

Since users are more likely active on social medias rather than blogs

coach marty
August 4, 2014 at 12:28 pm

We all need to be paying more attention to sharing…not just for traffic, not just for eyeballs or even for potential sales, but for search. I’ve been hearing a lot lately that Google’s last round of SERPs changes were infrastructure related to decreasing the importance of backlinks and toward increasing ranking your pages and posts based on the amount your content is shared.

Huedoku Colors
August 10, 2014 at 2:04 am

As per #4— and include the word “Actually”!! What was that– 4 out of the six titles that were most shared included the word “actually”. Or are they playing on our insecurity of knowing “who” we actually are.
What Career Should You Actually Have?
What Kind Of Dog Are You?
What State Do You Actually Belong In?
How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk
What City Should You Actually Live In?
Which Decade Do You Actually Belong In?

It’s career– place — time.. What job, what location, city or state, and what time period… Your identity. What is your identity based on– your job… where you live.. and then are you 80s, 90s, etc… hmmm brainstorming what to do with that.

Cory Boatright.com
September 4, 2014 at 7:24 pm


That was a killer post bro. Most people are lazy as hell and being spoon fed that you do nothing and make a killing Online. Nothing can be further from the truth. Writing is an investment and will yield assets if you’re smart on how you do it. Opt-ins are score keepers. Those emails will create residual income opportunities, but you still have to remember that people want kick-ass content, not watered down b.s. that has no centric value.

Awesome job Henley!

Remember… be a servant,

Cory Boatright

September 23, 2014 at 1:16 pm

We can see looking the shares of this content that if you share anything useful, people will like and share it. Informative and helpful information

September 25, 2014 at 3:41 pm

It’d be helpful to see the comparative effect of each item you’ve listed. For example, under point 2, if the total population of posts is split 28% no image, 65% 1 or more image, then the fact that well-shared posts are in the same proportion doesn’t necessarily imply any correlation between having an image and being well posted. If, however, the split in the population of posts is, say, 50%:50%, then having an image would appear to influence reposting. Conversely, if 5% of all posts have no image, then the opposite of what is implied by your graph would probably be true.

Point 1 shows this additional info required to complete the picture somewhat, but the rest of the points are missing the piece of the puzzle required to complete the inference.

One other point: correlation isn’t cause. For example, having more influencers may cause more reposting; or alternatively higher reposting could have been caused by a great post, which in turn caused more influencers to repost it (or whatever) which creates correlation between influencers and reposting.

Damian Martin
October 10, 2014 at 1:22 am

Interesting finding re: long-form content. I personally find that my audience also prefers longer posts, but was always told the opposite was true! Thanks for sharing.

Karl Marty Balingit
November 25, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Well this post definitely AWED me! (most popular emotion according to your article) Enough to leave a comment and share…Thanks for this Noah, wishing you more tasty tacos! 😀

Steve Faber
December 1, 2014 at 9:09 am

Great stuff!
“…. get them involved in your content in some way such as: -Asking them for a quote you’ll use in your article”
The power of getting influencers can’t be overstated. I recently published a post on Social Media Today. In it, I had in-depth quotes from 9 (imagine if I’d had 10!) social media leaders. The post received nearly 1,000 LinkedIn shares, 400 Google+ shares, and 500 Tweets.
Most of those quoted in the article also shared it on their networks. In addition, their presence in the article made it more likely to be shared, for the reasons you note. It also furthers your relationship with those quoted, making future endeavors that much easier. You’re also more likely to be quoted by others, either about the article, or new pieces.
Thanks for the excellent research!

January 22, 2015 at 1:09 am

Extremely valuable points for any serious online entrepreneur/blogger, thanks for sharing. I have been a consistent user and now a huge fan of SumoMe apps and BuzzSumo search – with these I’ve been able to get valuable insights into the content I publish on my blogs.

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January 22, 2015 at 1:52 am

Incumbents are too entrenched, too insulated from voter wrath.

We want jobs, world-class education, and healthcare that doesn’t have to check out its shoulder
for ambulance chasers. One o f the best Indian travel tips is the ever changing climate of India, the cycle
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February 16, 2015 at 7:15 pm

I am all about using other people’s networks to get the word out about my business and personal brand. I am an Instagrammer and Redditor, eclectic visual based communities. If I even THINK I will use their product in the near future, I’ll follow them, like, comment, etc. I’m engaged. I will use their products in artistic projects and tag them with the result. Effective! They love it, share it, I get to crack my preverbial creative knuckles, and my influence gets a little bit bigger. #winning

March 16, 2015 at 4:51 am

A big thank you for all the hard work behind this excellent check-list!

Dave Chesson
March 25, 2015 at 12:11 am

This was crazy good. I was especially happy to hear about the longer content being key. Although numerically it is important, however if you aren’t concise and straight to the point, you will lose them. I think the real factor for those being a winner is that to ‘really’ cover a topic, you need to go into detail. And those articles that cover a topic well, are the ones that people feel need to be shared.

April 2, 2015 at 9:19 am

Number 10 is fascinating. The fact that some social networks are Mondays and others are Tuesday is really interesting. LinkedIn I imagine is because people are back at work Monday morning and on LinkedIn. Pinterest however surprises me. Maybe its unemployed people killing time. Really fascinating and great stuff you have here Noah. This saves countless time trying to split test this stuff ourselves. Thank you.

Steven Farmer
May 10, 2015 at 8:07 pm

I’m a personal trainer that runs a blog. I’d like to get out of the one on one stuff and just write blogs and do videos. With so many blogs and trainers out there I’m wondering how I can stand out besides my humor and great advice.

May 24, 2015 at 9:31 am

The 10 points you had mentioned in the post are interesting. These are the few tips in bringing a good amount of traffic if optimized perfectly. Thanks Noah.

July 1, 2015 at 9:21 am

I am surprised that a posts that inspire awe emotion is one of top three posts that will go viral. A lot of time when I browse through my facebook, I saw many of my friends share stuff that invoke laughter and awe. I also received a lot of posts that invoke anger especially when it is posts related to politics. It just funny, politic posts that shared seldom invoke positive emotion(just realized it)…….

From my experience, I think posts that invoke anger get pretty much engagement. When there is a “angry” posts, I see that people comment more than “laughter” post.

Mary Collings
August 1, 2015 at 9:30 pm

Oh my goodness.
I’m late to the party on this one but OKDork just became my new favourite site. This information is awesome. I’m currently writing a blog post on how to go viral which has paled into complete insignificance in the shadow of this majestic behemoth.
This is how it should be done. I’m in awe.

Ash Srivastava
September 11, 2015 at 9:14 am

This is very insightful. I never paid attention to re-promoting existing content but looking at all the data and detailed analysis makes me excited. Good job putting all this information together !

October 1, 2015 at 6:58 am

I like that the authors applied most of their own tips in this article. Hello, list of 10 items!

What I have found is that I am most likely to click on content that will benefit me in a very concrete way. For instance, if I’m starting a blog, then any blog post that specifically tells me how to grow my audience will catch my attention. You’ve mentioned that sharing content can be a narcissistic pursuit. This applies to article reflecting who you are, but also articles telling you how to become rich and famous! Is there any data backing that up, besides measuring “How to” articles?

October 15, 2015 at 6:12 pm

Folks, viral is not always value and value is not always viral

But we all want our content to be viral, right? This post really helps us understand what to do once we’ve created a valuable content and now are clueless on how to promote it.

Nana Kay
November 1, 2015 at 5:23 pm

thanks for the tips

Ngo Hoang Nguyen
November 20, 2015 at 12:39 pm

Great web site. Plenty of helpful information here. I’m sending it to some friends ans also sharing in delicious.

And naturally, thank you to your effort!

Jade Sambrook
November 30, 2015 at 11:12 am

I am under the impression that viral makes Google rank your site higher in search results since more people are clicking on it, sharing it, etc. So even if like some folks have mentioned, viral does not necessarily equate to value, it most likely helps with site ranking, and that cant be a bad thing, right? Maybe I am wrong, but that is the impression I get. Thank you for this great read and in depth analysis. It was very informative and helpful!

susan oconnor
December 3, 2015 at 5:39 pm

A very simple piece of advice I came across years ago when researching the writing of a book was:

Andre L. Vaughn
December 5, 2015 at 4:34 pm

Awesome Post….This is going to help me SO, SO MUCH with the way I blog. Jammed Packed with great info. Thanks!

December 9, 2015 at 10:03 pm

i need article

Louis Kennedy
December 13, 2015 at 6:44 pm

Can I just say what a comfort to uncover someone that genuinely understands what they’re discussing online.

You certainly know how to bring a problem to light and make it important.
A lot more people need to check this out and understand this
side of the story. It’s surprising you are not more popular given that you most certainly have the

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December 20, 2015 at 2:16 pm

I don’t know if it’s just me or if perhaps everybody
else experiencing issues with your site. It appears as
though some of the text within your content are running off the screen. Can someone else please comment and let me know if this is happening
to them as well? This could be a problem with my internet browser because
I’ve had this happen previously. Many thanks

December 21, 2015 at 2:28 pm

Huawei’s effort is made all of the more spectacular because of a 10,000:1 contrast ratio.

Moshe Chayon
January 3, 2016 at 7:27 am

I would live to use summo me on my site but it does not support six, any ideas what I can use?

Josh Wortman
February 4, 2016 at 2:58 pm

Great, that settles it. If I can get 5k shares for < 1000 words and 9k shares for 3000 words, I'm going to make 3 posts, each < 1000 words and get approximately 15k shares. What a deal!

Prasenjit Das
March 6, 2016 at 3:53 am

I want to write some quality post which attracts most traffic not to be viral. Nor getting famous my site bengaliworld.wordpress.com just putting some comments or some spammy links on other blogsite. Please advise me.

Raul Tiru
March 19, 2016 at 7:56 am

This is amazing. Thank you so much for the effort, Noah. I’m definitely going to use many references for posts I write about Visual Marketing. Great stuff!

March 23, 2016 at 12:42 pm

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about content marketing.

April 3, 2016 at 1:57 am

While I’m certain each practices will grow to be more and morre widespread, what I even have seen is that when individuals use electronic mail in place oof a letter, tthe standard of presentation typically declines.

Pet Care Center
April 19, 2016 at 7:18 am

Pets are one that needs to care and should look after like
our baby. For taking perfect care for our pets and animal we should follow some techniques and also some
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Brian Robben
April 29, 2016 at 11:57 am

If you can create content that makes people feel smart or funny by sharing your post, then you have winning content that can go viral. Now I need to figure out how to create content that make them feel smart or funny.

June 2, 2016 at 11:55 am

This is interesting, Noah! I’m trying to produce in-depth content and can definitely see the results.

Aprender Más
June 4, 2016 at 8:24 am

First off I want to say superb blog! I had a
quick question which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind. I was interested to find out how you center
yourself and clear your thoughts prior to writing.
I have had trouble clearing my mind in getting my thoughts
out. I do take pleasure in writing but it just
seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually
wasted just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or hints?

July 21, 2016 at 9:53 pm

Nice article, I was immediately interested in the tool / plugin you are using for the image embedding source code. Are you able to share what you use for that?

Marie Stubbs
September 5, 2016 at 4:46 am

Hi Noah, Really very interesting sharing your thoughts about viral content marketing Ideas for new business.

Rameez Ramzan
November 24, 2016 at 1:35 am

Hi Noah Kagan,

All mentioned techniques are fruitful, but therefore I am a little bit confused regarding emotion in content if my industry based on the dry industry then how can I add emotion factors in content. I think it’s hard to show some emotions in a post.

I look forward to a positive response.

Rameez Ramzan

Roger K. Olsson
December 5, 2016 at 8:17 pm

Hi! We have just launched a blog about activities from our everyday lives in the Arctic. It is great to be able to blog and chat with people around the world even when we live in sparsely populated parts of the world. Our new blog we have chosen to call for Wealth and Work in the Arctic – An Northern Dimension. We have very much benefit from your tips to promote our blog. Thank you and welcome to visit, comment and share our blog too.

/ Roger and Alina

pranita deshpande
February 3, 2017 at 11:49 am

Thanks very nice guidance for everyone. I want add buzz sumo in my site as a share button.

February 25, 2017 at 6:50 am

Had so much trouble with our previous SEO company,
I have been researching it in my spare time and next
time we are going to employ temp staff to sort it
Bookmarked your blog, should help me keep up with regular posts!