6 factors That Make Data Content Go Viral

We can’t guarantee that your data content will go viral. But based on everything we’ve published, we’ve found the most important elements you need to consider to give your content the best chance to succeed.

1. A provocative story

All great things start with a story. A movie, a meme or a data viz. And you have to be able to explain that story in a single headline. You have to be able to tell that provocative story in a single headline with the assumption that the person reading it can’t even see the visualization. For example, something like “exploring the writing habits of presidents” is a terrible story. There is no story. I know that I might learn about the presidents. But I don’t what I might learn. I don’t know if it might be interesting. And if the visualization is equally muddled, the chances are I will have to work really hard on my own to find something interesting. Which means there is less of a chance I will share. A better story might be “Donald Trump Misspells Every 100th Word on Average”. That’s a story. I know exactly what I’m going to find, and I know it’s going to be interesting and funny. That’s the goal.

I Know You’re Going To Look at This, Because The Story is Amazing

Source: OKcupid

2. A single reaction

People react to content. If there is no emotional reaction, than why would anyone care about it? Facebook understands this. Buzzfeed understands this. That’s why they expanded the like button to an array of emotions. And to push this even further, Facebook rewards content that people react to over content that people simply “like”.  Do you know who else understands this, trolls and prominent content producers. The fundamental goal of a troll is to elicit a reaction. And because they elicit reactions, they rule the internet.

So how do you create a reaction? Target one. What kind of story does your data tell? Is it interesting, it might inspire aw. If it’s surprising, it might inspire laughter or anger. The thing is that when you look for your provocative story, you must be able to define why it’s provocative. And that means inspiring an emotion. Once you target your reaction, you have to guide everything in the visualization toward that end.

An Example of Data_IRL, Which Traditionally Has One Purpose; To Make You Laugh

Source: Reddit

3. Guide through the Story

It’s not enough to have a single story in mind and to visualize it. To really drive the reaction, and make sure it hits as many readers as possible, you must guide users through the story. Annotations, call outs, animations, or simply further explanation. Yes, your visualization should be simple, clear and speak for itself. Your axis and labels should be clear and purposeful as possible. But most of the time, you still need to draw attention to make sure the reader gets the most important parts.

The Moments During and Just After The Hawaii Missile Alert, As Told By Pornhub

Source: Pornhub Insights

4. Do not lose site of the viz

Just because you did all the above, doesn’t mean you can’t lose track of the fundamentals. You need to make sure you created the right visualization for the story. Your color and label choices must be purposeful. Your data correct, and your axis labels and adjusted accordingly. If you try to do too much, or just don’t do the right things at all, then it won’t matter was else you do.

XKCD Explains How To Make a Bad Map

Source: XKCD

5. Timing

A viral sensation is rare. Do timeless viral sensation is even more rare. Between the timing of the content and the timing of the post, timing can make or break your visualization.

It should go without saying that talking about something that happens on valentine’s day, won’t go viral on New Year’s. And visualizing march madness stats during the super bowl will leave you DOA. The thing is, that going viral is much more unforgiving than that. You need to be relevant, and sometimes, you won’t even realize why you’re relevant.

And if that weren’t enough, you also need to time your post to the best day and time of day per platform. Luckily, this is much more definite. Basically, you’re trying to get your data content in front of as many eyes as possible, with as little competition as possible. This means posting content during work hours, Monday-Friday. But it is highly variable based on your target audience. The best way to figure out timing is experience. Use traffic tools to see when your followers are online, lookup your competition and experiment based on your finds to find the optimal time to have reliably successful posts.

The Best Time To Post on the 4 Major Social Media Platforms

Source: Sprout Social and @dleybzon

6. Luck

Remember Kony 2012? It was a massive success. The thing is Jason Russel, the person who created the campaign, had already done a horde of similar videos. All produced in a similar way with similar content. And none of them had the level of success of Kony 2012. He was so unprepared for the massive success he eventually had a mental breakdown.

Meanwhile there are fortune 500 companies spending millions of dollars to have 1/10th the success of the Kony videos. And no one can replicate it. The truth is that the internet is a strange and complex place, and sometimes the only thing you can do is cover all your bases, try your best and prepare yourself. Because sometimes even if you do everything write, it won’t things won’t hit. And no one can explain why. But sometimes, if you do the right things enough times, your content might hit harder than you ever imagined.

Do not blame luck or count on it. But you have to be aware that it’s always a factor. Good luck to you and your content.

Interest in Kony 2012 Over Time

Source: Google Trends


 

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