The resulting chart suggests 30 things that² will, with some consistency, make your article or quiz or published brain fart go viral: think phrases like “before you die,” “blow your mind,” and “of all time.” We are, alas, a fairly manipulable bunch! Give us “one weird thing” and we’ll click compulsively until advertisers are fat and sated.
In real life³, Woolf cautions, linkbait isn’t a de facto predictor of virality — even stories that use the same headline construction end up being hit or miss. Some “before you dies” blow up; others bomb mysteriously. The exception, Woolf says, are stories that use the formula “character are you,” as in “Which Trivia Crack Character Are You?” (The Trivia Crack characters, FYI, are just brightly colored, smiley-faced icons: popcorn buckets and test tubes and footballs.)
BuzzFeed has, to date, published something like 40 zillion quizzes. That’s 40 zillion signs you4, oh woeful quiz-taker, are playing into their greedy hands.
“If there isn’t an automated headline generator out there already,” one Redditor commented, “this would help somebody make one.”
Is this the5 end of online media as we know it? As long as I can tell my Facebook friends which Game of Thrones character I am, that’s okay by me.
¹ BuzzFeed headlines with the phrase "before you die" average 53,856 Facebook shares. ² "X things that": 26,130 shares ³ "In real life": 18,616 shares 4 "X signs you": 22,420 shares 5 "Is this the": 17,215 shares