Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.
Upcoming SlideShare
Lessons Learned From The Front Lines Of Mission-Driven Media
Download to read offline and view in fullscreen.


The Sweet Science Of Virality

Download to read offline

You are bad at predicting virality. We are less bad (barely.) That's why science is here to make us all better. Learn all our secrets to winning the internet, one headline at a time. If you've seen previous versions of our training, some of this will be old hat. But we put a new hat in there too.

Related Books

Free with a 30 day trial from Scribd

See all

Related Audiobooks

Free with a 30 day trial from Scribd

See all

The Sweet Science Of Virality

  1. s ‘ THE SWEET SCIENCE OF VIRALITY You Are Bad At It. We Are Less Bad.How luck, testing, math, luck, data, retesting, luck, and bullies can help you win the Internet. Sara Critchfield (@saracritchfield) & Adam Mordecai (@advodude) There will be pop quizzes, so pay attention, class. #GoViral @Upworthy #SXSW imized!
  2.  Click
  3.  links
  4.  to
  5.  see
  6.   opt hits! 1
  7. Quiz In The Heart Of Texas! POP QUIZ ALREADY?! CAN YOU HANDLE IT? Which headline gets more clicks? A BA Hidden Camera Show Is A Hidden Camera Show Baffled When They Cant Goes To Texas. They Did Find Any Bigots In Texas Not Expect To Find This. 2
  8. Quiz In The Heart Of Texas! B! SEE IT @ 3
  9. What We Do: The Quick Version + + + + = sometimes
  10.  . 4
  11. What Makes Us Fancy Experts? Adam Sara Mordecai Critchfield Viral Curator Managing Editor Worked on the Dean campaign B.A. in visual communications and maybe caused the scream? from Drexel Had a Friendster account. M.A. in nonprofit management from U of Penn Has a Facebook account. Uses It. Worked at MoveOn as community director. Tweets once in a while. Was a DC lobbyist in international development. Can imitate muppets. Teaches at Church Camp about tolerance. Got 3,500,000 people to Got 1,000,000 people to watch a lab experimentwatch a spoken word poem on bullying. @ with monkeys being paid unequally. @ 5
  12. Case Study: Zach Wahls written
  13.  by Old Title: 1 Zach Wahls Speaks Million Views About Family Text New Hotness: Two Lesbians Raised A Baby And This Is 17 What They Got Million V iews 6
  14. What We Do In A Nutshell1. Find amazing content.2. Frame it for Facebook. SEE IT @3. Promote it on Facebook.4. ????5. PROFIT?!?! Invest in nutshells. 7
  15. Who The Hell Are We? Meet The Founders. Eli PeterPariser Koechley Chris Hughes 3 8
  16. State Of The Up 1
  17.  year
  18.  la ter... 6th,
  19.  2012Launches
  20.  March
  21.  2 15,000 Tumblr followers 70,000 Twitter followers 500,000 Email subscribers 1,150,000 Facebook fans 9
  22. We’re Off To A Good Start 10
  23. My Bosses Haven’t Fired Me 18,000,000 Page views 15,000 Facebook fans And I got 1,000,000 people to watch a bank oversight hearing. SEE IT @ 11
  24. DISCLOSURE: I Am Dumb In the last year, I predicted 100 of myposts would break 500,000 Page views. 5 did. 12
  25. 5% Expert, 95% Not So MuchAnyone who tells you he can make ANYTHING go viralis definitely not telling you the truth. Or is really naive. Almost nothing will. Even if it’s great. 13
  26. That’s Why We Have This InsteadWe test the hell out of everything. Then we test it again. 14
  27. Pop Quiz, Slackers! A B A Journalist Goes Watch A Diner Waitress Undercover As A Explain To A Wall StreetWaitress. Guess Which Guy How Money Works Job Was Harder? In America Which one did our audience totally want us to serve? 15
  28. Pop Quiz, Slackers! B! 4X THE CLIC KS! SEE IT @ 16
  29. THE MOST FAQHow Do You Make That One Thing You Made Go Super Viral And Stuff? 17
  30. What The Hell Is Virality? Shares per View Clicks per Share Viral? LOW LOW Nope. HIGH LOW Kinda? LOW HIGH Not so much. HIGH HIGH Hell yeah!To get clicks, you MUST focus on framing things perfectly. 18
  31. Will That One Thing You Made Go Viral? Yes START HERE Is it No Is it Yes Is it Yes Does it No Is it shrill? funny? REALLY No suck? political? No No funny? YES! Yes Yes Kittens, puppies, babies, No Do you celebs, or Harlem Shake? Heart- Good luck with that. Yeshave a huge No warming?PR budget? No I doubt it. Maybe? No No Yes Yes You ask No No No No to share? Yes Hero Are you Easy to Yes Does it Yes You sure villain? Yes Yes lucky? We’ll See share? end well? it’s good? 19
  32. Why The Hell Do People Share? Anger Shareable: “I am angry, yet entertained. I must do something, right now.” *click* Relaxation Happiness Not Shareable: “Just chill. We’re all gonna die anyways.” *sigh* Sadness 20
  33. Where The Hell Do People Share? good
  34.  luck,
  35.  if
  36.   you
  37.  crack
  38.  it
  39.  you slow
  40.  cook
  41.  it
  42.  to are
  43.  a
  44.  god. perfection. If
  45.  you
  46.  do
  47.  it
  48.  right, it
  49.  can
  50.  make
  51.  a
  52.  small
  53.  dent. 21
  54. The Social Part Of Social Media It’s not as much about having a conversation as it is about being conversational. 22
  55. Six Degrees Of Viral Bacon Who should you be targeting? EASY HARD REALLY HARD Getting your Getting your Getting your audience’s audience to audience’s friends’ friends to like like. friends to click. and share.My
  56.  mom Getting your Getting your Getting audience to audience’s @KevinBacon click and friends to to like and share. share. share. 23
  57. We Have Not Achieved Bacon... YET 365 days. Still no Bacon.
  58. TL;DR1. CONTENT: Find and/or create amazing content.2. FRAMING: Optimize said content to be really clicky on Facebook.3. TECH/UX: Optimize your site to be really good at sharing said content back to Facebook.4. DATA: Never stop testing your zany theories.5. LUCK: Capture a leprechaun and steal his lucky charms. 25
  59. STEP 1: FIND EPIC CONTENT A Hero A Villain An Emotional Story Arc A Super Inspiring Meaningful Message The Right Time And The Right Place Charles Xavier Cerebro 26
  60. How Hard Can It Be To Find Awesome Stuff? 66% of our posts don’t break 20K views. 6% of our posts have reached 100K views. Tell
  61.  me
  62.   more
  63.  about
  64.  how
  65.   3% have reached 200K views. easy
  66.  this
  67.  is. 1.6% have reached 300K views. 0.9% have reached 500K views. 0.5% have broken 750K views. and 11 posts have broken 1,000,000 views. (0.42% for those playing the home game) 27
  68. What Do The Top 10 Have In Common? @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ 28
  69. Everyone Loves A Good Movie @ @ @ High production value can work.You better have a good story though. 29
  70. Everyone Likes To Learn Mind-Blowing Stuff @ @ @ If you can give your audience some information that they are honestly surprised by, they’ll share it. 30
  71. Everyone Loves Raw, Human, Honest Moments @ @ @ @ You can’t fake authenticity. People love it and share it. 31
  72. Everyone Hates Bad Guys And Bullies @ @ @ @ @ The Theviewer who fed not Extremist The male- Mitt rhetoric dominated called her doing his Romney guy industry fat job @ @ The company All the with bad ideas Every good story needs a villain. bullies, EVER 32
  73. Everyone Loves When The Good Guys Win @ @ @ @ @ An The A womanA couple in An eloquent awesome President of inventor love news anchor gay military Ireland engineer veteran @ @ @ @ A funny A senator Say hello Astronauts A poetfeminist on who does talking about the TV her job to our science all of us heroes. 33
  74. Everyone Likes It When You Say What They’re Thinking @ @ @ @ @ Stop Your Stop We should attacking It’s time. position is poisoning the help girls people’s wrong. discourse. succeed. looks. @ @ @ @ @ The Our feds need Bullying planet is the WHOA. FOR Seriously? affects all of to do their only one we REAL? us. job. got. 34
  75. Moral Of The StoryMake or find really amazing content that speaks to your audience in a human way. WHO KNEW?! 35
  76. STEP 2: Frame ’Em It doesn’t matter how good your content is.If you don’t make it compelling enough to click and share, no one will know it exists. 36
  77. Social Headlines Need A “Curiosity Gap” Too vague, and I don’t want to click: A Guy Invented This Thing You’ll Like Too specific, I don’t need to click: Inventor Launches New 3D Printer At SXSW Ergo... The Epic Thinger That Makes TheInternet Look Like A Coloring Book 37
  78. Upworthy’s Editorial Process 1. You HAVE to crap out 25 headlines for every piece of content. 2.You WILL write some really stinky headlines. 3. Once you start getting desperate, you start thinking outside the box. 4. So you HAVE TO WRITE 25 HEADLINES. 5. #24 will suck. Then #25 will be a gift from the headline gods and will make you a legend. 6. Accept that not every headline will be perfect. 7. Then write 25 headlines. 8. With practice, you’ll be writing 25 in 15 minutes. Then I will give you permission to lower your limit. SO PLEASE WRITE 25 HEADLINES 38
  79. Headline Rules Don’t give it all away in the headline. Also, don’t give it all away in the excerpt, share image, or share text. Don’t be shrill. Don’t form an opinion for the end user. Let them do that. Don’t bum people out. (Remember slide 11.) Don’t sexualize your headlines in a way your mom wouldn’t approve.And don’t over-think it. Some of your headlines will suck. Accept it and keep writing. Which reminds me, my mom doesn’t like it when you put the word “sucks” in headlines. Lastly, be clever. But not TOO clever. 39
  80. The Slide For Your Cheap Boss Two Headlines. The Exact Same Video. @ @ TOO CLEVER 100X THE VIEW S! 10,000 1,000,000 Pageviews Pageviews 40
  81. YOU WILL WRITE 25 HEADLINES!1!!!1Otherwise, people won’t click your links. So I’d write 25 headlines. 41
  82. FRAME ALL THE THINGS!The Share TextThe HeadlineThe Excerpt SEE IT @The Share ImageYour Mom* Don’t give it away on any of these, or you will prevent people from clicking.
  83.  Mom
  84.  Thing. ing
  85.  About
  86.  The42 *
  87.  We’re
  88.  Not
  89.  Jok
  90. To Do List For Your Code Team If you aren’t making the most of social media, you are wasting opportunities for massive traffic increases. Facebook Headline Field Facebook Excerpt Field Share Image Field Fancy AB Testing System You have no one to blame butyourself if you don’t do the first three things. 43
  91. “We Can’t Afford That, Mr. Fancy Pants.” You may be thinking, “Easy for them to say with their fancy development team.” Then click here.You can editheadlines anddescriptions when PROTIP SEE IT @posting. ALL THE THINGS! 44
  92. Let’s Talk About Your Mom, Dude FACT: No one likes to disappoint their mom. DOUBLE FACT: Middle-aged women are the biggest sharers on the Interwebs. ERGO: If you frame your content to not make your mom shake her head, you have a better chance of winning. 45
  93. You Aren’t A Bad Person (Probably) Marketing is not inherently evil, hippie.Accept that if you get people to come see your important message, they might actually learn about how to help and stuff. 46
  94. How We Sleep At Night Curiosity-inducing headlines are manipulative, you say? 00K 8 on Views Up worthy SEE IT @Guess what NYC is now being forced to investigate? Read it @ 47 The Nation
  95. Also...Not sure if we mentioned this yet, but you should write 25 headlines unless you want the terrorists to win. 48
  96. The Quiz To Punch Your Boss In The Brain A B A Public Service Put Yourself In A WhiteAnnouncement On Behalf Guys Shoes. Comfy, Of All White Dudes Right? Pick a winner, champ! 49
  97. See, I wrote 25... 50
  98. The Quiz To Punch Your Boss In The Brain A 32X THE CLIC KS! SEE IT @ 51
  99. The Share Image Is Your ‘In’ @ @ @ @ Interesting
  100.   Curiosity-inducin’ The
  101.  cutest
  102.  thing
  103.   People
  104.  love
  105.  celebrity
  106.  image what
  107.  is
  108.  happening?
  109.   in
  110.  the
  111.  world secrets @ @ @ @ x
  112.  vs.
  113.  y Heavily
  114.  annotated PG-13 Obvious
  115.  screenshot 52
  116. Facebook Just Made Images More Interesting Thumbnails are now 600 x 600. You better start optimizing.Their new feed is focused on visuals, so if you aren’t making your images big enough to be visual, your content ranking will probably suffer. 53
  117. Share Image Quiz For Your Thoughts?A B 54
  118. I Got This One Way Wrong A!SEE IT @ 1.6XKS! T HE CLIC 55
  119. “We Can’t Afford AB, Mr. Fancy Pants.” Your Wall + + A Stopwatch + Facebook Targeting1. Create two URLs, one with URL?r=A and one with URL?r=B.2. Find two cities with similar demographics and populations amongst your fans. Use one on each. PROTIP3. Time it. The most clicks wins. (Add a “+” to a url to see stats.) SEE IT @ 56
  120. I Know Your Boss Thinks It’s A Waste Of Time But I have an idea. You should write 25 headlines and make it easier to share. Then people will want to “click”on your “stuff” and bring “traffic” back to your“website.” Then your boss will “finally get it.” 57
  121. STEP 3: Let’s Talk About UX, Baby 58
  122. Optimize Prime Your website is the gateway drug to sharing. Make sure it shares properly. You should always be testing, always adapting, always challenging what works.Art by Tim Doyle of Nakatomi Inc 59
  123. You Better Fix Your Share Buttons Floating Hover Overlay Links + Links Above SEE IT @ 3E98% MOR WIN 60
  124. Slide SEE IT @ A slider pops out and 6E20% asks you to like us.MOR BOSS 5
  125. STEP 4: Don’t Stop Testing And/Or Believing 62
  126. Always. Be. Testing.AB test constantly.-“Katy Perry and Tim McGraw” garnered twice as manyclicks as “Rihanna and Pink Floyd.”- Test angry vs. passive, short vs. long, questions vs.statements, and anything else you can think of.Use Google and Facebook Analytics to see what people areinteracting with the most.Always ask yourself, “Is there another way to do this?” 63
  127. You Can Always Do Better SEE IT @ 16-second delay 7 0% ICKS! MORE CL 5 64
  128. STEP 5: Go Get LuckyYou can’t force something to goviral. Even if it’s good.Virality is tough to predict.Content you love won’t alwaysmake it. Walk it off, and write 25more headlines.More content = more chances fora huge hit. 65
  129. TL;DR1. CONTENT: Find and/or create amazing content.2. FRAMING: Optimize said content to be really clicky on Facebook.3. TECH/UX: Optimize your site to be really good at sharing said content back to Facebook.4. DATA: Never stop testing your zany theories.5. LUCK: Capture a leprechaun and steal his lucky charms. 66
  130. Stay Classy, Austin Sara FINAL PRO TIP: Always make an ask. Ask us some questions... make sure to test Critchfield things... Managing Editor and always write 25 headlines. Totally your call, but Adam would you mind following us? Mordecai Viral CuratorThe Sweet Science Of Virality by Upworthy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at 67
  • JeevanAnandAnne

    Aug. 27, 2020
  • nexgenconsulting

    Aug. 12, 2020
  • CrystalFloresCrouch

    Feb. 24, 2020
  • AstroGirlBunny

    Jan. 25, 2020
  • enjoji

    Sep. 22, 2019
  • nourredineZaher

    May. 2, 2019
  • brengamatbreng

    May. 1, 2019
  • pkwoode

    Mar. 9, 2019
  • WesGayCPC

    Jan. 2, 2019
  • pedrosecundo1

    Dec. 4, 2018
  • OluwafemiAlofe

    Oct. 28, 2018
  • manish99955

    Sep. 14, 2018
  • leonidas96

    Jun. 7, 2018
  • alvish

    May. 20, 2018
  • arusharma25

    Mar. 21, 2018
  • adrianoguarnieri7

    Mar. 19, 2018
  • moralesjluis

    Oct. 19, 2017
  • SenaAchari

    Sep. 10, 2017
  • mahmoudkarezma1

    Sep. 5, 2017
  • AndreasHabicher1

    Aug. 29, 2017

You are bad at predicting virality. We are less bad (barely.) That's why science is here to make us all better. Learn all our secrets to winning the internet, one headline at a time. If you've seen previous versions of our training, some of this will be old hat. But we put a new hat in there too.


Total views


On Slideshare


From embeds


Number of embeds