The Science behind viral stories on the Web

From the New Yorker: “When Jonah Berger was a graduate student at Stanford, in the early aughts, he would make a habit of reading page A2 of the Wall Street Journal, which included a list of the five most-read and the five most-shared articles of the day. “I’d go down to the library and surreptitiously cut out that page,” he recalls. “I noticed that what was read and what was shared was often different, and I wondered why that would be.” What was it about a piece of content—an article, a picture, a video—that took it from simply interesting to interesting and shareable? What pushes someone not only to read a story but to pass it on?”

Guillaume Decugis‘s insight:

This piece that Gregg Morris initially scooped on how some people have been putting a lot of analysis to understand how and why stories go viral: after all – as this great article points out – this was already something Aristotle was intrigued by.

The findings are interesting and I encourage you to read them as it can inform your content strategy. Keep in mind the conclusion however – which I think is great and wise: the more we understand viral content collectively, the less we understand it.

Why?

Because whenever humans are involved, martingales don’t exist for long.

It reminds me of financial markets: whenever stock information is perfectly distributed and statistical models are the same for everybody, no one really has an edge.

For content, the same that applies: when everybody’s trying to do an Upworthy-like headline, they become much less effective than they used to be.

See on www.newyorker.com

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About the Author

Guillaume Decugis
Co-Founder & CEO @Scoopit. Entrepreneur (Musiwave, Goojet). Engineer-turned-marketer. Skier. Rock singer. http://scoop.it/u/gdecugis

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