What content were you reading this year?
Did it include some of the most shared articles of 2015?
Why does certain content get shared so much and go viral?
Last year we looked at 100m posts and highlighted the common characteristics of viral content.
This year we added over 1 billion articles to our content database and looked again at the most shared posts.
Our analysis shows that viral posts remain outliers, and unfortunately there is no magic formula to go viral.
However, there are insights from viral content that we can use to improve the shareability and engagement of our own content.
The posts we are looking at in this review are primarily consumer posts, we have previously examined the best B2B posts of 2015.
Below we have provided examples of the most shared posts of 2015 and tried to break down why they went viral.
If you haven’t got time to review them individually, you can jump straight to our conclusions.
Our review has identified four different elements which occur frequently with viral content.
A combination of these elements may not guarantee viral success but they can improve shareability.
Look out for these elements in each of the viral posts below.
Viral Posts Are Insightful Outliers
Viral posts are not the norm. Our examples below include posts with millions of shares.
However, these viral posts are exceptional even for very largest viral sites, as we can see from the graphs below.
These show the distribution of shares across posts for BuzzFeed and the New York Times.
There are fewer and fewer posts as the numbers of shares increase.
Going viral is like alchemy, and even the best sites cannot consistently replicate the success of their top posts (if they could, they would).
Like most publishers, the top sites have a lot of steady performing content and a few huge hits.
The top three most shared articles on the Huffington Post demonstrate this quite clearly as we can see below.
The top post got almost double the shares of the third most shared post. This is a pattern we see again and again.