Breaking the Internet: The Viral Effect

Luck. Momentum. Influence. These are the main components to virility on the Internet.

Capturing attention doesn’t have a formula, because sometimes going viral is unintentional. One can’t predict when they would be the next Internet sensation, it just happens. This is the nature of viral content. Just think about some of the best blogs or articles you’ve read. How much of an impact did the piece have on you — where it convinced you to share amongst your friends online. Or what about a funny vine video you saw that just happens to have millions of generated loops. That vine didn’t get popular overnight (but in some cases it may have). Again, the viral effect is unpredictable. However, there are ways you can manifest your own popularity on the Internet.

Here are a few ways you can improve your chances of breaking the Internet:

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Being Aware of the Viral Effect:

Knowing that you can’t control going viral is key. In their book Content Rules, Ann Hadley and C.C. Chapman describe viral content as a “happy accident.” In order to win with going viral you need content that is compelling, interesting, funny or can start discussions. Also, know your audience. These are just some basics for things that grow popular over the Internet.


Does the content you’re sharing uplift you or spark a positive emotion? You’ve seen the countless cute baby pictures and videos that find there way onto your Facebook timeline. Viral content such as the cute babies make you feel good – they have a certain a human interest element that makes it hard not to share to everyone you know. I know I instantly share any articles I read of the positive images presented of black men. My purpose for sharing that particular content is to allow others to see the great things our black men are doing for the communities because often they’re portrayed negatively in the media. You want content that can touch as many people as it can. This content has to ignite some form of emotion in another individual. When it does this, it has the best likelihood to go viral.

Controversy and Surprise Element:

Just as fast as positive content can blow up, things that provoke anger can also win with going viral. Topics that are sensitive, such as social injustice or pop culture, are things that get people talking. Content that also goes against the status quo tend to also go viral. Just think about the last “OMG” post that you shared. There had to be some shock factor that invoked you to share it. Links, multimedia and an opinion are all you need to develop viral controversy.

Have Accessibility and Multi-Platform:

You want to make sure your content can easily be found. One way to ensure that is by posting it on all your online social channels. It increases the chances for the content to be shared and seen by others. Make sure your content has the proper key words and tags. This allow Google to easily track back to you when those key words are being search on a daily basis. By being everywhere you feel is beneficiary to you, increase your likelihood of going viral.


Timing is important. You want to have an idea of when your content will be shared. Also consider the relevancy of the time you post your content. Is it something that everyone is talking about already? Your viral content has to have some form of momentum already built. In addition, knowing the times when your active audience are online the most helps how your content can go viral. Also, consider how you can capitalize on things that are happening in pop culture. Doing this increases your chances to have high visibility and reach a larger target audience.

Remember, becoming an Internet sensation doesn’t happen overnight. You can never truly say that you’ve mastered towards making something go viral because some of the most peculiar content tends to blast off. Brands have gained a large following base because of the content that went viral.

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