I’d argue that going viral can absolutely be formulaic.

I call it “timeless re-reporting”:

  1. Find a previously reported story
  2. Retell said story using all available information
  3. Profit

Which stories are going to go viral? Ones that:

  • Are timeless — could have happened yesterday or 30 years ago, and you can’t tell which from the headline
  • Have recognizable brands names in the headline (preferably companies)
  • Create curiosity by being almost unbelievable

The prime example is this article:

“Pepsi’s $32 Billion Typo Caused Deadly Riots” by Sean Kernan

With said title, how could it not go viral?

  1. It’s timeless. The reader wants to know: “Is this breaking news?” But it’s still a useful story anwyay.
  2. It features a recognizable brand with a big dollar amount.
  3. It’s completely unbelievable. A $32 billion typo … caused deadly riots? No way!

I’ve definitely seen this in my own writing.

I’ll be writing a piece on this soon! Cheers! ✒

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