Top 3 Talks at UX Conference “Make Stuff That Works”: Part 3

“How To Go Viral” by Ida Jackson

Who doesn’t want to know the secrets of what makes content go viral? Ida Jackson, a content specialist at Netlife Research, uses the power of research and analytics (along with colleague Ida Aalen, to uncover the real truth about what goes viral in social media. Ida helps answer this fascinating question as the final talk for the #makestuffthatworks popup conference in Brooklyn.

Credit card company vs Burrito Cat?

Who do you think would get more attention? Every company seems to be wanting to go viral, but Ida kindly reminds us that going viral tends to be all about emotions! Not subtle emotions that are kept quiet, but rather the very strong emotions, such as hilarity, inspiration, astonishment, and exhilaration. The catch is that viral content can be for both very positive strong emotions, and oppositely, very negative strong emotions.

A subset of positive and negative emotions share one factor: blood-pumping, heart-racing arousal. High-arousal emotions include awe and anger, while low-arousal emotions include sadness and disgust.

The one emotion that outpaced anger in Berger’s study was awe, the feelings of wonder and excitement that come from encountering great beauty or knowledge, such as a news report of an important discovery in the fight against cancer. “Awe gets our hearts racing and our blood pumping,” Berger says. “This increases our desire for emotional connection and drives us to share.”
Read more here.

Ida gives a great example of what would rate highest to lowest on the scale of internet arousal:


Best example. Bravo.

Unless they were giving away free money (refer to: positive high-arousal emotions), there is something to be said when our credit card company is trustworthy, reliable, and not busy going viral.

Tip: Useful does not equal popular, and that is okay!

There is truth in saying that some companies want to reach their audience emotionally; they want to go viral! They must remember that in order to reach people emotionally, you need to know them.

A great example of knowing your audience is Buzzfeed. They constantly have articles with enticing titles such as “22 Recipes That’ll Take Your Brunch Game To The Next Level” and “21 Signs Your Mom Is Actually Your Best Friend“. They personalize their content by messaging their articles for YOU. This creates a more personal connection to you rather than just writing a list and titling it “Signs That Moms Can Be Our Friends”.

To make your content go viral, remember these 6 points:

  1. Use strong, high-arousal emotions
  2. Positive high-arousal emotions do a little better than negative high-arousal emotions
  3. You need to be user centric
  4. You need to know your audience
  5. You need to stand out
  6. You need to tell a story

Most importantly: be able to recognize which content is too important to be a viral hit.

And now, this viral “goat jumping over other goats” video:


One thought on “Top 3 Talks at UX Conference “Make Stuff That Works”: Part 3

  1. So thankful that you posted about the three sessions I was most interested in since I wasn’t able to make it to the event! Great summaries!

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