cute cat - viral contentThis is the holy grail for every marketer, entrepreneur and any other professional on the internet: To go viral. At least, when I first started out writing articles and producing content, I could think of nothing else other than trying to figure how to get this post spread like mad on Facebook, Twitter and all the other important places. What I quickly found out is that it takes a little more than posting cute cat photos, although I keep questioning myself on that.

A few months back, we did some research on what it really takes for content to go viral. We analyzed an article that got well over 500,000 likes and then spoke with the authors about their strategy on how they did it. The good folks over at Social Media Explorer have now turned this piece into a wonderful infographic and I think it makes getting the insights easier than ever.

So, without any further ado, here are the 5 key elements every piece of content needs to have to go viral:


5 key elements - viral content

As a 6th point, we also looked at the science behind writing great headlines for Twitter, Facebook and your blog recently, which I believe is another really important factor of how your content will perform and spread.

Of course, there are tons of other elements still that need to be part of a great piece of  viral content to spread wide and far on social networks. What have you found to work the best when trying to publish content that reaches more people?

Credit: Big thanks to Mark Smiciklas for putting this infographic together.

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Written by Leo Widrich

Co-founder and COO at Buffer. I enjoy working on company culture, customer development and marketing. For more personal posts, check out leostartsup.

  • Great posting but how about Google+? When can we expect Buffer to include it?

    • LeoWid

      Hi Bill, great to hear from you and that’s a great point, we hope to have this ready soon for Google+ pages, it might take us a bit longer for G+ profiles still! 🙂

  • Susan Ayasse Grand

    There are some commonalities here with “Who Gives A Tweet.” See this article:

    • LeoWid

      great resource, thanks Susan!

  • Ganesh

    Something along the lines of your last point here! In a choice between virality and integrity, what do you choose?

  • rotheche

    I’m a nitpicker, sorry; the homonym: “illicit” and “elicit” mean different things. Elicit: to draw or bring out or forth, to evoke. Illicit: not permitted or authorised.

    • Dont Be A Douche-Nozzle

      Oh rotheche….your use of a semicolon and then a colon followed by the incorrect term “homonym” (which actually means sounds AND spelled the same) when you should have said “homophone” has ironically put you in the seat of the nitpicked. I would have given you the benefit of the doubt with the misspelling of the word authorize as an inadvertent typo or perhaps being from outside the US where that is the standard spelling, but because you are such a douche-nozzle (that would be worse than the bag itself) I will include that in my satirical rant.
      Way to go @assmonkey on your attempt to make yourself look better.

      Thanks Leo, great job on the post.

  • Emir

    Can’t the amount of “sharing” options hurt the virality (as it is too many options)?
    Is there any rules or research on what is reasonable?

    PS: Awesome blog, awesome post, thank you!

  • LocalSearchHQ

    Thanks alot for this useful blog. Indeed very informative blog!

  • How to post blogs in Buffer? Can anyone guide me?

  • wow that was simple and wonderful tips, I’m also wondering like the first commenter below about google+?