A few weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal profiled Gawker editor Neetzan Zimmerman, whose job is to post content that’s poised to go viral. Zimmerman does his job quite well. His posts generate about 30 million pageviews a month–tops at the site by far, six times what the second-leading staffer generates. Zimmerman’s success is not the result of some computer formula; on the contrary, rather, “he understands the emotions that might compel a human being to click on something online,” the Journal‘s Farhad Manjoo writes.
If the traffic numbers don’t already show the wisdom of Zimmerman’s approach, the behavioral evidence certainly does. Recent research suggests that emotions hold the secret to viral web content. Articles, posts, or videos that evoke positive emotions have greater viral potential than something that evokes negative feelings, but both do a better job recruiting clicks than neutral content. The finer details tell a similar story: triggering high-arousal emotions, such as anger or humor, is a surer path to click gold than triggering low-arousal ones, such as contentment or sadness.
Take a recent a study published in the November issue of Computers in Human Behavior. A research team led by Rosanna E. Guadagno of the National Science Foundation showed 256 test participants one video from a collection that spanned the emotional spectrum.
Read the whole story: Fast Company