Viral Content Roundup: Brexit, Stralia and satire in viral media

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 a 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. In the case of #FreeBritney/Free Britney, for instance, an established star served as the emotional whirlpool. You can notice a similar phenomenon in any content which surrounds Kylie Jenner and the Kardashian family or even Prince Harry and the Royals.

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.

Viral content

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.

viral content

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.

viral content

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

viral content

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.

viral content

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.


Over two million people have called for Pornhub to be shut down following some pretty brazen allegations against the website.

The crux of the movement is a viral video from TraffickingHub, exposing how the site has been profiting from and enabling of sex trafficking over many years.

Former pornstar Mia Khalifa has come out in support of the movement – no surprise, considering she has been fighting for years to have her own videos removed from Pornhub. The notion that Pornhub could be shutdown is not entirely far-fetched, considering Girls Do Porn was shut down earlier this year for coercing women into porn.

Meanwhile, the last few years have seen many ethical porn sites popping up as alternatives to the porn giant. And yet countries like our very own Australia still buck the progressive trend when it comes to policymaking, recently quietly banning the importation of hentai into the country.

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.

Digital strategy is the process of carefully considered digital marketing methods that when combined help grow your business. Each industry and client is different and therefore require a uniquely tailored approach.

With clients as diverse as Ute Canopy Company, a Lebanese Pizzeria, a top Australian music blog, and one of Australia’s biggest flooring companies, we know the importance of bespoke digital strategy.

Where to from here? We’d love to hear about your business and help you achieve your highest brand potential. Please feel free to call us on +61 (0) 2 9519 9922 or email [email protected]

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by Radi Safi

Radi Safi is the Creative Director at IYBI. In 2012 he launched Happy, a music blog and media company.
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