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Everyday there are new posts that blow up online. But what is it that makes these posts go viral? Here our PR intern, Beth Moody, is here to uncover the secret recipe for success.

In the thrilling internet world, some stories don’t just unfold; they explode into the digital stratosphere, leaving us all in awe of their contagious energy.

Today, we’re dissecting the most recent viral sensation – the beats of the Jungle remix of Amol Rajan’s University Challenge moment and some classics from the past – courtesy of Satsuma’s very own Ellen Widdup.

So, what is the secret sauce behind their viral conquests?

Amir Rajan’s brainy beat drop

Let’s begin with the symphony of intellect.

The story started when University Challenge host Amol Rajan posed questions to the University of Sheffield and University of Aberdeen earlier this month.

During the popular music-themed bonus round, the Aberdeen team were asked by Rajan: “What name is given to the genre of dance music that developed in the UK in the early 1990s out of the rave scene and reggae sound system culture associated with acts such as A Guy Called Gerald and Goldie?”

When the team answered with drum and bass, Rajan responded: “Can’t accept drum and bass. We need jungle, I’m afraid.”

The original BBC clip was shared on Twitter/X from one social media user who pleaded: “Please, please will someone sample @amolrajan saying: ‘I can’t accept Drum & Bass. We need jungle, I’m afraid.’”

And the internet obliged and quickly sparked a wave of interpretations, which remixed the response into fast-paced jungle bangers.

So why has this spread so fast?

Now let’s shift the tempo to news that lands just right.

When news goes viral

Back in 2019 our Managing Director Ellen Widdup took her then nine-year-old son to get a haircut. There’s nothing very newsworthy about that, is there?

Except this wasn’t any old haircut.

For the two years prior to the chop he had been growing his hair and had been mistaken for a girl on an almost daily basis – even approached by a modelling agency who thought he would be the perfect addition to their catalogue of female faces.

But he had a goal – to grow his golden locks to 10 inches before he chopped the lot off for charity.

Ellen is savvy. She’s a former national newspaper journalist and now an experienced PR practitioner. So let’s face it, she knows what makes a good story.

So when she videoed his haircut, edited the footage and stuck it on her social media channels, it was little surprise that within 48 hours, her Twitter post had 3.5 million impressions and the video had been viewed one million times.

Just under 250,000 people had interacted with the tweet, with 87,000 likes and 12,000 retweets – one of which came from comedian Jimmy Carr.

Then Lad Bible jumped on the bandwagon and the video hit 5.3 million views.

So why did it capture hearts and minds?

  1. A quirky angle: Viral stories are often those which stand out from the norm.
  2. Superb pictures: Yes, that’s right. In almost all cases content that gets the most hits is visual. Yes, the story itself is engaging. But it was the video and the images that propelled it forward.
  3. Timing: Yes, timing is key. In the midst of Brexit, who wouldn’t want to indulge in an uplifting snippet among the doom and gloom of other people’s political posts?
  4. Emotional connection: The revelation that the schoolboy grew his hair for 18 months to donate to the Little Princess Trust transformed a sensational tale into a narrative of compassion. The unexpected twist tugged at heartstrings and transformed the story into a shareable beacon of kindness.

And that’s not all

Ellen also had another story go viral after her youngest son caused carnage when he escaped his baby gate and daubed the house in black paint.

Normal mums might have freaked out and immediately started scrubbing. Ellen didn’t. Just like before, she saw the viral merit of the disaster and pulled out her camera and started snapping, using the images to secure content in a host of national newspapers and an interview on This Morning.

Viral magic recipe

In our industry, going viral is the holy grail.

Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason for what trends and what does not. Sometimes it is simply a matter of the stars aligning.

But there are ways you can help more people engage with your content:

  1. Be different, quirky and stand out from the crowd
  2. Make is shareable
  3. Use the power of images
  4. Time your story well
  5. Make it funny or memorable in some other way
  6. Tap into the human angle
  7. Use the element of surprise
  8. Ride on the coat tails of others
  9. Tap into emotions – whether they are joy, laughter or compassion
  10. Make content with a long shelf life.

As we navigate the digital cosmos, we always keep an eye and an ear out for stories that blend surprise, shareability, and genuine human connection. If you have something you think could go viral and want some help, advice or to tap into the skillset to sell that bad boy far and wide, give us a shout.

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