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What makes a video go viral? Is it because it includes kids, kittens or puppies? Or is it because there’s something much deeper? If you want your articles or videos to be shared, you must understand why and how your content will reflect on the individual sharing it.
Why Shares Go Viral
Neuroscience and other research studies suggest that for a video to go viral, there are several deep-seated ingredients that must come together.
A study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania neuroscience research lab team recorded brain activity from participants about how they reacted to New York Times health articles. Brain activity suggests that people have a two-part process to decide what to share on social media, and it all points to how shared articles or videos shape their identity:
- Social relationships: How sharing an article or video will reflect on you
- Developing self-image: Will friends be interested in the article or video?
In other words, people share things that they believe will improve their relationships, make them appear smart or, in one way or another, look favorable.
You Are What You Share
The deep dive, on a simple sharing impulse, is that your brain looks for information to share with others. It’s how we’re wired. Additional reasons for shares:
- To express who we really are
- To convey a sense of our ideal self and aspirations
- To nurture relationships
In a New York Times study titled “The Psychology of Sharing: Why Do People Share Online?” six sharing personality types where described:
- Altruists: Motivated to bring valuable content to those they care about
- Careerists: Focused on developing a strong network of personal and professional contacts.
- Hipsters: They like to start a conversation, debate or controversy. They are always looking to connect with like-minded people.
- Boomerangs: Motivated primarily by reactions; they like to start a debate and generate comments.
- Connectors: For them, they share mutual experiences and including others.
- Selectives: Shares information they feel will be of value to a specific person.
This same study found that 68 percent share to define themselves. Eighty-four percent share to support causes or brands that they care about.
In other words, you are what you share. You share to express who you are, deep inside.