Viral content - a magic formula?

We’re all familiar with the feeling. We post a piece of content online and it just doesn’t take off like we hoped. Maybe your video didn’t blow up, or that blog post really tanked.

You have some decent stuff, but it rarely goes viral. Why is that? Is there some secret, magic formula to virality that only a select few know about?

Magic formula

No, there are no tricks to making your content go viral. No magic formula. In fact, many marketers believe that it's a game of chance and that there's no secret to creating viral content. However, that's not necessarily the case as you’ll find out below.

Secret sauce

Some say the true secret of success is only known by the algorithm — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat all have their own secret sauce for deciding what to show users in their feed. It falls on social media marketers like us to crack the code and make sure content gets seen by as many people as possible.

No silver bullet

If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering why some content goes viral while others gets buried.

We all want social media to do its job and get us more likes, retweets and comments. We want our content to be seen by the widest amount of people possible.

The truth is there's no silver bullet.

Going viral is a marketer's holy grail. If you can understand what makes one post more likely to catch on than another, you're going to be able to drive a ton of traffic to your website, your blog, and your social media pages.

Whilst there's no scientifically proven metric for determining what makes content go viral, there are several elements that have shown to perform well across various formats. Read on to find out more.

Practical value

Practical lessons are behind a lot of the viral posts out there - those that give the answers to common problems.

Give your audience what they want — a definitive guide to common problems in your industry. Whether you're presenting your post as a solution, or just covering an interesting topic, the key is tactfully covering an issue that needs addressing. People love reading about practical (and often funny) solutions to common problems.

Everyone loves reading about the trials and tribulations of others, so don’t be afraid to wear your heart on your sleeve and reveal some of your deepest secrets. If someone else out there needs help with a topic that you have first-hand experience with, then don’t hold back — share the wealth!


Stories make us human. They're the emotional glue that binds us together. Create content in the form of a story and watch the magic happen!

Stories are vital to human interaction, and we are wired for sharing them and making posts go viral.

Making your content relatable is key. People love talking about stories that ring true with their experiences. Start by focusing on the audience and what they ca take away from your content, then sit down and think how to present that so it's engaging and really packs a punch.


Want to get more shares on social media? Try injecting a bit of humour into your copy. Studies show that there's nothing that generates more shares than a good laugh. Why is this? Well, humour reduces stress, increases energy, and creates a bonding moment for people.

However, it’s worth bearing in mind that your end game in viral marketing is not just a share or two. It's to build brand recognition, awareness, and trust. While an adorable picture of a cat might get you 300,000+ shares does it contribute anything to your brand? Does it make people want to do business with you?

Social currency

People love to show off, and they especially like sharing things that make them look good. How else do you think social media is so successful? It's because our species is hardwired to look for validation and praise and sharing something online elevates that experience. But it's not just about looking good — you must have produced something worth showing off!

When crafting your content strategy, remember that people are flocking to social media to broadcast their best selves to the world.

Content that makes people appear smarter, wittier, and snazzier when they share it always wins. Jewellery designers, for example, could share information about the costliest earrings or diamonds on the planet, as well as how to wear their piece with multiple outfits.


Everyone loves nostalgia, and you can use this to your business's advantage. Many people on social media enjoy reminiscing about their childhood, so why not create content that can makes them feel like a kid in a grown-up world?

You might be familiar with ''Throwback Thursdays'' on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. People love looking at old photos, especially of their favourite celebrities. So, they'll be all over your Instagram feed if you post pictures of them goofing around as a child, getting haircuts that were popular in the '80s, dancing in the "Thriller" video or wearing those hilarious glasses from the 80s.

Don't believe us? Just check out the Instagram hashtag #ThrowbackThursday, which has hundreds of thousands of images posted every week.

Roll of the dice

Virality is a complex and delicate thing. No one can predict what might catch on and spread like wildfire. There's no science behind it — it's a bit like the roll of the dice — but there are a few guidelines you can use to increase your chances of producing content that will catch on and spread like wildfire.

Follow these guidelines, and then to a certain extent wing it. Just keep plugging away until you hit on the right combination of content, voice, and format that works for your brand or business.