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Viral Social Media Trends: The Psychology Behind Some Content Taking Off

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Welcome back to our blog! Today, we want to take a deep dive into viral social media trends.

Ever wonder why that quirky dance challenge or adorable dog video is still popping up on your feed?

Meanwhile, that well-thought-out post about your business’s values gets about as much attention as a tumbleweed in the desert.

Why, you ask, does some content go viral? Well, let’s take a closer look at the psychology behind viral social media content.


We want to preface this by saying that going viral is up to a lot of factors (as we will see), many of which are out of your control. No social media manager worth their salt can guarantee you go viral, and frankly, for a lot of businesses, going viral should never be the goal. We’ll go into this in our next blog post, so make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter!


Viral Social Media Trends: What Does It Mean to Go Viral?

First things first, let's clear up the lingo. When we say "going viral" on social media, we're not talking about a few hundred views.

Going viral means your post spreads like wildfire, getting shared, liked, and commented on more times than you can refresh your feed. It's like becoming an overnight sensation, but without the glittering Hollywood parties (unfortunately).

Emotions, emotions, emotions

One thing most viral posts have in common? They heavily rely on the use of emotions.

Emotions are the (not-so-secret) weapon in marketing, whether it’s digital or traditional marketing. In social media, the use of emotions ensures that people share the content, like it and comment.

And if you think about it, it makes sense. Think about the last video you sent to your friend on Instagram. Was it something funny that you thought would make your friend laugh? Was it an inspirational quote you knew would motivate your friend?

Emotions move us, and the algorithms of social media platforms favor posts that get a lot of engagement, a.k.a likes, shares and comments.

What does it mean when we say algorithms favor engagement?

It means chances are a post with tons of engagement will be shown to a wider audience, reaching more people and -most likely- generating even more engagement. Think of it as an upward spiral, catapulting popular content to new heights and rewarding the creator.

Pro Tip

Next time you post something, ask yourself “Will this make someone feel something?” Ideas include funny memes, heartwarming stories, and relatable experiences.

The Relatability Factor

Imagine scrolling through your feed and stumbling upon a post that feels like it was plucked right out of your life. You'd probably hit that share button faster than you can say "me too!"

Relatable content bonds people together. People want to feel seen and to know that others are experiencing similar things in life.

Pro Tip

Share relatable anecdotes or dilemmas in your niche. Chances are, if you're going through it, others are too.

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The Element of Surprise

Sometimes, viral content takes off simply because it's so unexpected.

It's like finding a $20 bill in your jeans' pocket – you didn't see it coming, but it's a delightful surprise.

It might be a controversial story, or an ingenious twist on a common theme, anything than might surprise your audience.

Pro Tip

Don't be afraid to think outside the box. Surprise your audience with something they didn't see coming.

The Right Timing

Remember that dance challenge we mentioned earlier? It probably took off at just the right moment.

Timing plays a significant role in making content go viral. You want to be the early bird that catches the worm, not the one who shows up after the worms are gone.

You don’t need to be the one to create a brand-new trend, but it helps to be one of the first people to hop on the wagon.

Pro Tip

Stay updated on trends and pop culture events in your niche. Be ready to jump on a trend as soon as it starts to gain traction.

And a lot of Luck

We hate to break it to you, but in the majority of cases, there's no formula, no secret sauce, and no magic spell. Some content goes viral simply because it gets lucky. Maybe a celebrity shared it, or it caught the attention of a major news outlet. While you can't control luck, you can make sure your content is always high-quality and share-worthy.

Pro Tip

The better your content, the better the chances of your audience enjoying it and the algorithm pushing it, making it viral.

Don’t post to go viral, post to offer valuable content.

woman sitting in the water


What does it mean to go viral?

Going viral means your post spreads like wildfire, getting shared, liked, and commented on more times than you can refresh your feed. It's like becoming an overnight sensation, but without the glittering Hollywood parties (unfortunately).

Is it better to focus on one social media platform for virality, or should I spread my content across multiple platforms?

It's often a good strategy to focus on one platform where your target audience is most active and engaged. Trying to go viral on multiple platforms simultaneously can be challenging to manage and dilute your efforts. Quality over quantity is key.

What should I do if my content goes viral?

If your content goes viral, congratulations!

Be prepared to handle increased engagement efficiently. Respond to comments and messages promptly, and use the opportunity to connect with your audience.

Additionally, consider how you can leverage this newfound attention to achieve your long-term goals, such as building brand awareness or growing your online presence.

Can I predict viral social media trends?

Unfortunately, there's no surefire way to predict what content will go viral.

While understanding the psychology behind viral content can increase your chances, factors like timing, luck, and the ever-changing nature of the internet make it impossible to guarantee virality.

In Conclusion

While there's no foolproof recipe for virality, understanding the psychology behind what makes content go viral can certainly up your game.

Remember to

  • Stir those emotions

  • Be relatable

  • Surprise your audience

  • Master timing

And above all, have fun while doing it! Because in the end, viral or not, you're sharing your unique voice with the world, and that's always worth celebrating.

In next week's blog post, we’ll explain why going viral SHOULDN’T be your goal.

Huh? It shouldn’t?

Yes, you read that right. Stay tuned (& subscribe to our newsletter) to be the first to read it!


Interested in outsourcing your social media? We're here to help!

Reach out to us today.



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