An excerpt from the book Homo Imitans by Leandro Herrero:
No video or song is ‘viral’ until it is spread like an infection. There is no such a thing as a ‘viral’ anything. There may be different characteristics in the piece of world I information that may make it more suitable for a viral spread, but even a very suitable and potentially viral element is not viral until it is spread via a viral mechanism.
In a study of almost 7,000 online news articles from The New York Times, researchers from the Wharton School in Philadelphia, USA3, found some strong similarities between the stories that were ‘more viral’. They found there was a pattern. Content that was shared more, was usually ‘practical and useful, surprising, affect-laden and positively valenced’. Also, ‘articles that evoked more awe, anger and anxiety, and less sadness’ were more likely to be emailed.
I can’t say that I am overwhelmed by the findings. I am also not sure whether they are using the term ‘viral’ as a synonymous to email-able or emailed. I think the obvious conclusion is that there must be some characteristics that make some stories, ideas or even actions more viral than others. But you will still need a viral mechanism to achieve that.
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