The entire world is reeling from the monumental referendum held last week which has resulted in Britain voting to leave the European Union.
Almost every week we see a global event like this send shockwaves across the international media landscape, and Brexit was gargantuan talking point that sprouted viral content of every ilk.
When a political anomaly like this occurs, it presents on a silver platter the foundations for some absolutely brilliant satirical content. A quick scan of the most shared media related to Brexit from the past week revealed that this kind of humour is still very much at the heart of viral content.
While it is commonly considered that there is no surefire path towards creating viral content, emotional engagement is the only consistent characteristic across the majority of media that is shared to the point of virality.
One of the most potent emotions is laughter (joy); it’s the bread and butter of viral content. And this could be extremely helpful when it comes to understanding how viral media could be a useful tool within your content marketing strategy.
A political anomaly like Brexit is ripe for satirical scrutiny, and this week’s most viral content proves once again the power of humour like this in wooing the masses.
“British Lose Right To Claim That Americans Are Dumber”
What a title.
In the viral world, satire functions almost like intelligent clickbait.
It’s no surprise then to see, in the week following something like Brexit, that the majority of most viral content is satirical in some respect.
In 1980, psychologist Robert Plutchik developed the ‘wheel of emotions’ – a diagram dictating that the most ‘potent’ emotions are those in the second circle of the wheel: joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness, disgust, anger, and anticipation.
This is quite important when you consider the role that humour (or joy) plays in viral content.
The article British Lose Right To Claim That Americans Are Dumber – published in the widely respected New Yorker – is a piece of viral gold.
In the face of such a serious affair, it turns the austerity of political commentary on its head, utilising a terse, educated writing style to poke holes in the social fabric of Britain.
It’s a short, punchy, hilarious piece that serves precisely its purpose as veritable clickbait – albeit clickbait that has a brain.
New Yorker: “Britons mourned their long-cherished right to claim Americans were dumber than them” https://t.co/7WA4hfToaF
— Stig Abell (@StigAbell) June 24, 2016
It’s this combination of a great idea, executed with intelligence and impeccable timing (basically the very definition of wit) that makes a piece like this so virally potent.
Add to this a comment on the intelligence of Americans, considering the current political climate in the States, and you have yourself a unbeatable viral concoction.
— Allison Berry (@allisonberry) June 24, 2016
It’s no wonder it was shared over 200K times.
“Thousands Of British Refugees Make Dangerous Journey Across The Irish Sea”
When it comes to viral satirical media about Brexit, the most shared content is ingrained in a wider social discussions.
Without certain social triggers, media has no chance of gaining momentum, because without interaction, content falls flat.
The satirical piece Thousands Of British Refugees Make Dangerous Journey Across The Irish Sea is a wonderful double-edged sword. Its use of humour to tease out multiple social and political issues across the world is pure viral genius.
Bloody refugees in boats coming over uninvited to our country: https://t.co/7AbWKgHjXc
— Paul Jakma (@pjakma) June 24, 2016
Much like the article above, the writing is short, punchy and highly digestible: clickbait. And the combination of this with such a brilliant idea makes for extremely virally powerful content.
As it appeals to a variety of social discussions – Brexit, refugee crisis’ in multiple countries, the political race in America, Britain and Australia – this potential for going viral increases tenfold.
“Could Australia leave the AU and become Stralia?”
Despite the nature of the top two pieces, the reality is that much of the viral media that is shared is purely comical, pertaining to pop culture references or patterns of other viral media.
The piece Could Australia leave the AU and become Stralia? is a trove of pop culture references, tied up by satirical tone and some unique storytelling.
Again, the wittiness of the piece is the basis of the piece’s virality: it’s extremely well-timed, punchy and hilarious.
It’s also poking fun at the less intelligent public, using a tongue-in-cheek tone to disparage Australians and Britons alike.
Readers don’t like sharing content that may reflect poorly on their intelligence. A satirical piece like this that uses a slick combination of subtle wit and sociopolitical banter is both smart and funny, and to many is highly sharable content.
Viral Content Roundup
While not all of these instances of content going viral may be directly applicable to your content marketing strategy, they no doubt shed light on why some pieces of content spread like they do.
Short-form satirical pieces can be extremely powerful forms of viral content. None of the above pieces are out of the grasp of a most writers. The key is the idea, timing and placement.
When a political anomaly like this pops up, it presents an opportunity for some great content. And your content marketing strategy should be nimble enough to make the most of it before slips away.
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