What makes something go viral on the internet?
Eric Barker stashed this in Marketing
This explains religion and political virality:
A powerful predictor of whether content will spread online is valence, or the degree of positive or negative emotion a person is made to feel.
It does not explain why PandaWhale's posts on Ali Tetrick, Samantha Wright, and Michelle Jenneke are the most popular ones on our website. People like beautiful images?
-People like beautiful women.
-The Olympics are currently going on so they're topical.
Number 1 you'll get no argument from me.
Number 2 is interesting since none of the three women I mentioned are in the Olympics for cycling, weightlifting, and hurdling, respectively.
Still, Olympics drives an incredible amount of traffic to all pics of attractive female athletes. Not that I'm complaining AT ALL but I do notice a relative lack of pictures of attractive male athletes... funny how that works. :P
Michael Phelps is still the #1 searched Olympic athlete on Yahoo, ahead of all of the women: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1277672-leryn-franco-and-olympic-athletes-popular-for-the-wrong-reasons
Also in the top 10 are Ryan Lochte, Roger Federer, and Usain Bolt: http://sports.yahoo.com/photos/olympics-most-searched-olympians-of-2012-slideshow/las-más-bellas-de-los-juegos-photo-1343249936.html
"#1 searched" is not the same as "lots of pictures." :P
The first is one people proactively look for, the second is what publishers proactively promote.
Where the two meet is the essence of virality on the Internet, I believe.
Aha, so it is anger.
And a good way to make people more angry? Remove something from its original context. Paraphrase, or otherwise wrap in framing that makes it more even more likely to provoke a reaction. ("Well, he didn't really say that. But he kinda said that, if looked at in a certain way with the least-generous reading. So I'll put that in the headline and wrap the excerpt in discussion that primes people to make the same misreading I've made.") Forward to the communities most likely to be outraged. Profit!
Framing is an important part of propaganda.
Propaganda is very good at evoking emotions.