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What Makes a Viral Video Go Viral?

What makes a viral video go viral? While cats certainly helped, the secret sauce of making viral videos is a highly sought after knowledge. After all, every advertising agency and their grandpas want to know a sure-fire way of making their next ad-masquerading-as-viral-entertainment be seen by millions of eyeballs.

Well, marketing professor Brent Coker of the University of Melbourne, Australia, came up with a recipe of viral videos. All you need, he says, are four things:

According to the algorithm, the four ingredients required for a video to go viral are congruency, emotive strength, network involvement, and something called "paired meme synergy."

First, the themes of a video must be congruent with people's pre-existing knowledge of the brand it is advertising. "For example, Harley Davidson for most people is associated with Freedom, Muscle, Tattoos, and Membership," Coker explained on his website. Videos that strengthen that association meet with approval, "but as soon as we witness associations with the brand that are inconsistent with our brand knowledge, we feel tension." In the latter case, few people will share the video, and it will quickly "go extinct."

Second, only viral-produced videos with strong emotional appeal make the cut, and the more extreme the emotions, the better. Happy and funny videos don't tend to fare as well as scary or disgusting ones, Coker said.

Third, videos must be relevant to a large network of people — college students or office workers, for example.

And last, Coker came up with 16 concepts — known on the Internet as "memes" — that viral-produced videos tend to have, and discovered that videos only go viral if they have the right pairings of these concepts. "When combined, some combinations appear to work better together than others," he told Life's Little Mysteries.

Natalie Wolchover of Life's Little Mysteries has more: Link


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