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How the hell do I come up with a viral tweet!?

Por Josefina Casas |


como hacer un tweet viral
It is true that the big factor that determines the “virality” of a content is luck but there are common aspects that every viral tweet has, and we’ll be reviewing them in this article.

We obviously can’t create a step by step manual on how to come up with super “shareable” content since each market or business requires you reach out to your audience and adapt your content which changes from one to the next. Our purpose is to help you get to know which elements contribute to success so you too can apply them in each tweet, video, meme, picture, post, and thus increase your chances of these becoming viral. (As long as the universe’s on your side, of course) 🙂

Before getting to know how we can make a tweet (or something of the sort) become viral, we’ll use Upworthy‘s definition of what something “viral” is.
Anything that’s “clickable” and (also) “shareable”.

viral definition up

  • If people click but don’t share, we lose.
  • If people share, but their friends don’t click, we are still losing.

Or…aren’t we?

titular viral

  • Conclusion: the content has to be “shareable” and clickable by your followers, your friends’ followers and the friends of the followers of your friends’ friends and so forth until you get a million clicks and shares. 🙂


1- A viral tweet, a universal “problem”.

One of the main motivation that makes a person react to something is to firstly feel identified with it. We won’t be able to catch someone’s attention if we fail to communicate in his/her emotional language, if we don’t connect using a shared situation such as having the same sense of humor, the same type of hair, the same extra pounds, the same insomnia because of a child, the same values, the same ambitions, etc.
Besides touching the precise emotional nerve why do you think
Dove’s “Evolution” campaign (16 million) or its “Beauty Sketches” campaign (62 million) were so successful?
Let’s see…

Because all of us, even those most blessed by nature, have, had or will have that insecurity that comes from believing we’re not as beautiful or attractive as…
Discussing a topic that creates empathy translates to making the people on the other side go: “Yeeeeeeeees! I thought/felt/went through/suffered/experienced that exact same thing”. And achieving this means reducing the chances of our content being abandoned or our tweet being ignored. Get to know what moves your followers so you can start catching their attention.

2- Did you hear how a response on a live news show became one of the most successful videos?

…With its headline (and, obviously, a whole lot of luck 🙂 )

A battle cannot be won if there aren’t any opponents. Then there’s no battle in the first place! Meaning you can have what you believe to be the best content but if you can’t make people interested in it no amount of empathy or emotional nerves touched will do. Now, in order to arise interest, we can’t stress this enough, it’s necessary to have an excellent headline, which needs to be captivating and it needs to awaken curiosity. Yes, all of that in only one line.

Therefore, we need to keep the following into account:

  • If the title is vague it doesn’t catch people’s attention. It doesn’t make them want to click on it
  • If the title is too specific it fails to create the need to click on it. Everything’s said and done.

Interesting… right?

Here’s a case that demonstrates the difference between a good headline and one that brings about 16 million views:

  • Original Title: “CBS WKBT News Anchor´s On- Air response To viewer calling her fat”
  • Improved Title: “Bully Calls News Anchor Fat, News Anchor Destroys Him On Live TV”

headlines are very important 2

Why did the new headline make the difference?
Firstly the video deals with a sensitive subject that affects a lot of people worldwide. It’s a situation that generates empathy because it’s a “universal problem”.
Secondly, in order to make it a high-profile viral product Upworthy used the right words to move people. Fat, Bully, New’s Anchor and… “destroy”. In only one line they introduce a villain, evil and cruel, and a heroine that “destroys” the bad guy but we still don’t know HOW. This is the bit that within thousandths of seconds arises people’s curiosity: “Hum… what did she say for them to state: “she destroys him?”, “Humm… how harsh was she?” … CLICK!!

Another key for both virality and success is never to reveal everything you know. We are curious by nature: we always want to spy so we can see what others don’t let us or hear the secret someone didn’t share with us or understand why something happens the way it does or…, etc.
We need to be smart and use all of these aspects in our favour.

As most time luck’s not on our side nor are we clairvoyant so as to predict what will be viral or not, it’s necessary to counteract this with a killer headline.
Yes, we insist on the headline because it’s what will make the difference between stopping on a post or…
Bye bye, good luck. Let’s see the next one.

chau chau

In order to come up with a striking and captivating headline we need to write at least 25 versions of the same line. It is a lot of work for those of you who don’t specialize in this but if you try it it can be the human key to viral success, beyond aligned planets.
Upworthy says so, Upworthy does it! (Upworthy is one of web’s most successful platforms to provide viral content)

viral headlines
So, besides awakening curiosity, being excellent and attractive, the headlines that attract more users are those that have numbers .
For instance:

  • Make a list: “7 reasons to…”,”10 tips for…”,
  • Define a ranking: “The best 5…”. “The 8 mistakes…”

This makes posts seem practical and easy to read. It’s better to use the number than the word: “seven reasons for…” .
Always put the number at the beginning of the sentence: it’s not the same to read “4 apps that are changing the way we work” and “the way we work is changing because of four apps that optimize daily tasks.”

Keep the message simple, easy to understand and awaken curiosity.


3-Let’s talk about love…


As we stated previously viral content must deal with a universal problem and for it to be discovered it must be introduced with a title that awakens curiosity, one that’s excellent, captivating and makes people click on your content. With this last thing we would be accomplishing only one target: the click. But there’s another one that’s essential which completes the definition of virality: “share”. How many times have we “clicked” on something that later disappointed us or made us go: “Is that it?” so we closed the window feeling bewildered. This means losing our fans’ trust . We cannot fail our followers. Anything from a picture, a phrase, a meme, a joke, a video, a song, an article can give them the surprise they’re looking for, let’s captivate and suprise our audience!

In order to get to the point of sharing the person doing so has already seen EVERYTHING, and for that to happen, he/she will have felt entranced at every second, every line, every phrase, picture, meme of what he/she chose to see. This is the great challenge of “Share”: to avoid people getting bored or disappointed too quickly so they see EVERYTHING and, if possible, to make them want to show their friends what an amazing thing they came across.

How can you accomplish that?
Quickly tapping into emotions. Quickly awakening anxiety, joy, anger, etc. According to an article from “The Harvard Bussiness Review” , people get bored easily therefore in order to keep them interested in our content we need to immediately create two responses: surprise and delight. Nowadays users, as we said before, get bored rather quickly so we can catch their attention but we also have to hold on to it until the end and that’s why the content must be a sort of emotional roller coaster for people.

In a world that’s all about business, targets, stress, etc., giving people the mental break they’re looking for so badly, with a joke that makes them laught out loud or something that draws a tear, will make them remember you. That’s why it’s so important to quickly activate whoever’s on the other side so that they’ll want to share your content.

This was a good mental break millions of people enjoyed, surely more than one of you saw it at the office during 2013:

A research carried out by two professors from the University of Pennsylvania showed that those posts that make us feel afraid, anxious or angry are the ones most shared although positive content’s still more viral than negative content.
The key to “social sharing” is the level of positive/negative excitement of the reader/observer. The more excited the person is, weather happy or angry, the more he/she’ll feel the need to share.
Besides this, it also shows people share content that’s entertaining, that can help others, that brings about reciprocity, or that improves one’s reputation, meaning, that portrays us as smarter, deeper, more sensitive, etc.

Two excellent examples that managed to use emotions well were:

    • Dollar Shave Club:
      In only 2 months they got 4.6 million Youtube views, 4,257 comments and 43,285 likes. In Google there are 3,380 mentions of the video.

    • Procter and Gamble pays tribute to mothers for 2012 London Olympics, in a memorable way:

Your brand, a feeling…

Summing up this point, remember to bind your brand to an emotional message, because that’s what people will remember, beyond your product, offers, prices, etc. Of course, before anything you need to think carefully how your product, service and brand relate to a topic that will tap into or activate your audience’s emotions and that also reflects positively on the position and image of your brand. As we mentioned before, Dove managed to handle this outstandingly, not only with its content, but with its brand. They associated the brand to an altruistic message, that’s committed to a sensitive subject that affects millions of people.
Adidas also managed to do it with: “Impossible is nothing” and its campaign that brings hope to millions of people that think they can’t achieve their dreams, Adidas show them they CAN.

4-Get to know your followers and your followers’ mothers

In order to know what creates that “chemistry” between your content and your followers you need to know your audience: A joke for a broker, an engineer that processes big data or a golf player won’t be the same. We can’t tell a 21 year-old student how important and wonderful it is to see a child give his/her first step since he will probably only be interested in partying and taking loads of pictures like Miley Cyrus:

conoce a tu publico objetivo
You can also try, besides getting to know your fans’ demographic data, age, gender, etc. to investigate : What makes them laugh?, what makes them angry?, who do they admire? who are their favorite characters?, what do they watch on TV?, what do they do on Saturday nights? Out of these answers you’ll get valuable information that will help you find content that truly interests your audience and activates their emotions.

Nonwithstanding, another very important thing is to know you don’t only have to think of your followers but also their moms! According to a research carried out by Burst Media middle aged women are the ones that share and make brands grow the most. Therefore, do things that will please them as well 🙂

moms biggest sharest


We insist on this because it’s half our work and we can’t do anything else but cross our fingers and hope for the best. But it’s as necessary as having a great headline, figuring out a universal problem which your audience will feel identified with and activating that excitement that awakens the desire to share content with your friends using emotions.

6-The right time and place

Besides all the previous variables, which if combined brilliantly,
can make content a viral success, we need to help luck by uploading our content at the right time.
In a previous article we’ve reviewed the best days and times to share according to each social network. You can use it as a guide, but as we always say, there’s nothing better than knowing your audience’s behaviour yourself, because each field, industry is special.
You need to be wherever your audience’s sharing:

  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • Tumblr
  • Twitter

7-An excellent, remarkable captivating headline

We insist… Don’t get worn out too fast.
Yes, keep practising until you are able to write 25 lines with the same idea.
Yes, it’s difficult but you need to do it if you want to keep making money.

write a viral headline

8-Another important thing, luck.

In case you haven’t heard luck’s a paramount aspect 🙂

viral content

9- Optimization

This implies many things. You can start by including your social networks’ buttons everywhere possible as a way of making your followers’ lives easier, finding the exact word for your headline to be perfect also works or looking for the funniest meme to go with a phrase you want to share. Constantly try different things, don’t dare give up if at first you don’t get it right! 98% of the time content FAILS to become viral but it’s worth it since down the road we also get some victories.

In order to get closer to getting a viral tweet, besides what we’ve been discussing so far, don’t fail to use hashtags, ask your followers questions, use eye-catching phrases such as “Re tweet this! Share with your friends!”, you don’t lose anything by asking them to do it.

Include a link, 70% of re tweets include them.

Make your title short but not too short. Between 70 to 100 characters is the right amount, proven to be successful among re tweets.

largo del titulo

10- I’m not sure if we’ve mentioned this: luck

Even if you don’t have any try it anyway. Luck needs to be sought after!


Now, seriously, we hope that besides luck you have the persistence to try again and again. Because this is the key, never fail to find motivation because something didn’t work. Try, try, try again until you find what makes your followers click!

If after reading this article you feel like finding more inspiration here are the 39 most viral videos of 2013 so buckle your seatbelt.

39 most virals videos

What does your audience share most? Tell us all about it, we also want new ideas 🙂