They say you can’t guarantee that something will go viral. And they are right, for the most part.
But you can learn a hell of a lot from things that have gone viral in the past.
This isn’t about resting on laurels, or recycling ideas, or gaming the system.
This is about seeing what’s done well before, and thinking of new ways to appeal to the same logic that made it so successful. Let's look at an example:
Back in March of ‘11, Donna created a post about real bon mots from some of history’s sharpest wits: 21 Scathingly Witty Insults By Famous People
It did well initially, but grew from there into a social sharing phenomenon.
To date, it has well over a million views, putting at No. 9 in the Viral Traffic category of the BuzzFeed All-Time Internet Hall Of Fame.
A big success, by any measure, it still gets a few thousand views every day.
So what is it about this post that appeals to people? Look at its components — it’s a list with a clear theme, fun to look at, funny, smart. It would reflect well on anyone who shared it, and if you came across it in StumbleUpon (it’s in the Humor category there), you’d be sure to give it a thumbs up. It’s a nice post that brings together wit, emotion, and information.
So how to follow it up? Recently, a young man named Jack Shepherd thought he’d try just that — the result?
This often happens with a pre-tested idea: It hit the internet pretty hard right out of the gate, with a great performance on Reddit. And while it doesn’t have much in the way of StumbleUpon traffic yet, we’re predicting a pretty bright future for it.
With our huge catalog of great posts, we’ve got a goldmine of material. It’s a different kind of content than our newsy, meme-y stuff, but fills an important role in the BuzzFeed and web ecosystem, and we can do it better than anyone. Time to hit the Buzz mines, editors, and craft some posts based on our biggest hits.