Viral content usually evokes high emotion.  According to the results of two studies conducted in 2013 and 2016 by Harvard Business Review, “viral content tends to be surprising, emotionally complex, or extremely positive. Social sharing is very connected to feelings such as inspiration or admiration. According to HBR, this explains why your Facebook newsfeed may be flooded by friends sharing feel-good stories.

viral content happy

On May 19th a Texas mom, who is now known to millions as Chewbacca Mom, livestreamed a video on Facebook. Within a day, her post filled with infectious laughter became the most viewed Facebook Live stream of all time. By the way, she has since received thousands of dollars in merchandise and travel, appeared on national TV shows, and received college scholarship offers for her children. The video went viral because it was extremely positive.

On May 30th, a Louisiana homeowner posted a surveillance video of a hugging bandit. She simply wanted to know the identity of a sweet young boy who was sneaking hugs from the dog. The Facebook video post received over 14,000 shares and is currently nearing 5 million views. The video was adorable and innocent. It was surprising and emotionally complex.

Viral content is often the kind that makes us smile or laugh. Why?

Human emotion is contagious. We have a natural desire to feel happy. We want to share happiness with others. We want to connect. Several researchers agree; many studies conducted on viral content in recent years and the results are consistent. When the framing of a story or post is positive, the piece is far more popular.