Love, Hate, Belief, Disbelief: What Drives Shareable Content?

Curating viral content isn't easy. If it was, we'd all be doing it and there would be an infiltration of (even more) salt baes and polarizing political GIFs.

But there's a reason why certain types of content get the viral engagement every publisher craves. And it's not as simple as post + pray. Meaning you can't just post something and hope to the social gods you go viral. There's more data behind it. First, you have to understand what makes content viral. Then, how it spreads.


And at its core, it boils down to emotions.

Take a minute to think about the type of content that makes you want to click that "Share" button. You're definitely feeling something — maybe it's just amusement, maybe you're inspired, or maybe it's even rage. But it's enough emotion to make you want to share it with your own followers, so they too can experience what you have. That domino effect yields those crazy-high engagement numbers.

The emotions that perpetuate this notion to share lie somewhere on the quadrant of virality, where love/hate + belief/disbelief are strong enough to trigger some sort of actionable measure. It may seem like a simple idea, but mastering this is what truly takes your content from cute to sexy, and from shared to virally shared. It's what prompts new audiences to engage and become obsessed with your brand.

Quadrant of virality.

There's a reason why companies like BuzzFeed + UNILAD get thousands of shares on Facebook. It's not because they're guessing. They've tapped into our emotions, even if it's just pure distraction. Each of BuzzFeed's properties caters to a specific niche audience who's addicted to the content they post.

Even BuzzFeed's home page is categorized into "lol," "wtf," "cute," and "omg" — essentially slang terms for love, hate, belief, and disbelief. Here's a look at how each one of those emotions spread on social.

Love

Negative news seems to dominate the feeds (thanks, 2016). After all, it's naturally more attention-grabbing and fear-invoking — the same reason why your local news station's daily lineup leans more toward the grim side of things. It's easy to get caught up in the negative news phenomenon, but too much negativity can turn off your followers. Which is why there's been a recent pull toward positive storytelling, and an audience that's asking for it.

Virality + social sharing have a close relationship with positivity. Research presented by Fractl revealed love, happiness, and admiration as the top emotions that generate higher social shares.

Fractl's study shows positive emotions drive social shares.

RebelMouse property HooplaHa has adopted this appetite for positive, solution-focused news. They deliver only uplifting content, calling themselves the "antidote to bad news." So far it has granted them stellar engagement + a loyal following. The video below of Mark "The Dog Guy" Imhof garnered over 2K likes, 1K shares, and hundreds of comments. (When in doubt, go with dog content.)

Hate

We've all seen what happens when strong negative emotions take a front seat. If you haven't heard, the Pepsi ad flub of 2017 is causing quite the viral outbreak all over social. A negative reception to the ad has prompted those not so much in support to share, retweet, and create their own GIFs, and the backlash only continues to grow. This might not be a case of "any press is good press," but it's certainly viral media we can't stop looking at. (See also: The White House Press Secretary using the phrase "Holocaust Centers.")

Backlash to Pepsi's recent ad caused a viral social frenzy.Source: Twitter

Disbelief

Leave it to political news to best tug at our emotions of belief/disbelief. RebelMouse's viral property Axios has changed the way we digest political news. Their mission is to provide a clear, unbiased perspective which they deliver through snackable microposts. Each of these microposts taps into some sort of emotion of disbelief, key to grabbing the attention of their readers and leading to a substantial decrease in bounce rate and an increase in page views.

Belief

Belief can be just as powerful of a driving factor, as seen in the recent addition of the "Fearless Girl" statue on Wall Street. The statue was part of a greater push to pressure companies to add more women to their board in honor of International Women's Day. It gained widespread attention overnight, where pics of women + young girls emulating the statue went viral. It started trending on Facebook, appeared all over Instagram and Twitter, and even got powerful influencers, like Chelsea Clinton, to weigh in. It restored hope + belief in change at a time when many believe women's rights are continually compromised.

"Sometimes, a symbol helps us become whole, and I think the 'Fearless Girl' is having that same effect. She is inspiring everyone at a moment when we need inspiration."Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York

How Does Content Spread?

Tapping into the emotions of your audience is only half the battle. It's not enough to publish great content. One of our RebelMouse mantras is, "If you put out great content, but nobody sees it, does it even exist?" That's why it's crucial to understand how content spreads. First comes feelings, then comes the data and tech to properly support its growth.

56% of all online adults use more than one of the five most popular social media sites regularly. Which means people live in various places across the social ecosystem. That's why your content should not only live on the platforms, but also easily be able to cross platforms as well.

Resonate with the right audience for serious engagement goals.

The ability to cross platforms with ease requires a greater understanding of the current state of distributed publishing — and how to reach your maximum audience without sacrificing everything to social. Axios founder Jim VandeHei recently attributed much of the new media company's success to a revamped monetization of page views, because the old school method cheapened user experience:

Laws of supply and demand kicked in, and everyone had tons of inventory, and you're throwing it through these third parties, that are giving you a penny an ad, and it doesn't really add up unless you get more and more pageviews. So then you want to do more. the next thing you know, you have something that has no value to the consumer, and so, of not much value as a brand." — Jim VandeHei

Axios has straddled the challenge of monetization + user experience with their provoking and relevant content, but also with the help of RebelMouse's Social UX feature. We've blended the home page experience with social feeds to help platforms + media companies live in harmony.

Because harmony means your followers are happy. Happy enough to drive your engagement.

You're almost there! Fill out the form below and a Rebel will contact you within one business day.

x

How Axios Built on RebelMouse

The Axios founding team is composed of the industry veterans who built Politico and shaped The New York Times. They had a vision for building a next-generation media site that would not only win in the world of social, but would also build real loyalty and a subscriber base.

Industry: News Media
Headquarters: Washington, DC
Website: Axios.com

Axios is a new media company delivering vital, trustworthy news and analysis in the most efficient, illuminating, and shareable ways possible. They offer a mix of original and smartly narrated coverage of media trends, tech, business, and politics with expertise, voice, and smart brevity — on a new and innovative mobile platform.



With some of the best writers in the world, Axios knew that, to be successful, they would need to provide next-generation authoring tools as well as a next-generation front-end experience for their readers.

Project Requirements:

  • Get to launch quickly while still having tremendous depth in technology
  • Build a next-generation media property
  • Empower editors with technology for breaking news
  • Build a CMS that manages and elegantly assembles content into articles
Keep reading... Show less

RebelMouse vs. WordPress VIP

After building the product for Huffington Post, and owning the product and engineering groups at AOL after we were acquired, it was clear to me there was a huge gap between what the current CMS offering gave the world and what the world needed. Five years later we are at scale, moving the needle and doing to WordPress what Airbnb did to Craigslist.

Keep reading... Show less

NEW! Google Analytics Tracking for Facebook Instant Articles

We're a bunch of traffic junkies here at RebelMouse. We geek out over data, and we want our clients to geek out too over the insights we provide them. That's why we obsess over our clients' metrics on a daily basis. It's our belief that a clear understanding of data will drive strategy adjustments that lead to real audience growth. But this means that your traffic overview has to be as clear and easy to read as possible. Enter one of our latest updates.

A lot of our clients prefer to use a separate Google Analytics profile to track their Facebook Instant Articles traffic, and now this is incredibly easy to set up in our platform. We have a sophisticated Google Analytics integration that can accurately track every one of your UTM mediums, including Google AMP, Facebook Instant Articles, and traditional website traffic. It's a feature that, if we're honest, Google Analytics does very poorly on its own.

Keep reading... Show less

Strategy Services from Experts in Growth

At RebelMouse, we talk a lot about being born in the age of social. We went viral in 2012 as being the first content aggregator and the internet's first "social front page."

Keep reading... Show less

You're almost there! Fill out the form below and a Rebel will contact you within one business day.

x

Meet the Investors Behind RebelMouse

RebelMouse founder and CEO, Paul Berry, was the former CTO of HuffPost where he led product development. Paul has managed small, agile teams for 20 years, but has also led teams of 450+ people. He understands how engineers, product, design, UX, and editorial teams can come together with chemistry that produces results.

RebelMouse is fortunate to be backed by an impressive list of investors, including Ken Lerer, Eric Hippeau, Jonah Peretti, Jordan Levy, Fred Harmon, and more. See the full list below.

Keep reading... Show less

Video Ads = Toxic

Facebook has implemented a ton of changes recently that have been affecting publishers' reach. And while it seems nearly impossible to figure out a winning strategy while juggling all of the platform's algorithm updates, one thing is abundantly clear:

Video ads are hurting your reach.

We're now finding that if you have a video ad on your site period, the Facebook gods are not going to favor you — and you'll most likely see a drop in reach.

Keep reading... Show less

The Reasons Why Indie Publishers Flourish on RebelMouse

We care about you. We care about you having a sustainable business.

And that means we care about everything — from revenue to traffic to how you can be sustainable long term. By using data across all our publishers, we can help you understand what's happening in the media world, how to leverage Facebook's algorithm changes, where your audience lives, and more. The digital landscape is constantly changing, and we are always studying its changes to help indie publishers break through the barriers of bureaucracy. Our goal is to give you an unfair advantage through badass tech that helps you understand how traffic distribution works. So you can get your voice heard. Loudly.

One of the best parts of living in the age of new media, and more importantly living within the social ecosystem, is that everyone has a chance to go viral. The chains surrounding public content that were once monopolized by corporations and agencies have now been put back into the hands of the users.

Keep reading... Show less

How We Created a New Social Platform for Food

One of the pillars of RebelMouse is our lightning-fast site launches. We love the fact that we can create a successful media property in little to no time at all. But there's more to RebelMouse than a quick launch turnaround. We can also create + customize pretty much anything you want — and we did just that with My Recipe Magic.

Our team created an entirely new web community on My Recipe Magic that is dynamic and social. It's kind of like Pinterest, but for food only. Your one-stop shop for all things yummy. It's a place to find, share, and create new recipes, and it's pretty addictive.

Here's how My Recipe Magic is standing out from their competition:

Keep reading... Show less