In scientific research on what makes articles go viral, amusing stories were shared more frequently than less amusing ones.
Berger and Milkman found that two features predictably determined an article’s success: how positive its message was and how much it excited its reader.
While emotion and arousal top the list, a few additional factors seem to make a big difference. First, he told me, you need to create social currency—something that makes people feel that they’re not only smart but in the know.
The presence of a memory-inducing trigger is also important. We share what we’re thinking about—and we think about the things we can remember.
Lists also get shared because of another feature that Berger often finds successful: the promise of practical value.
A final predictor of success is the quality of the story itself. “People love stories. The more you see your story as part of a broader narrative, the better,” Berger says.
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