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Upworthy’s brilliant instant-virality strategy, explained

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Viral publisher Upworthy has both won and changed the Internet forever. It’s remarkable that a website started by just three guys—Eli Pariser, Peter Koechly, Chris Hughes - along with founding curator Adam Mordecai—would become so massive and hugely popular. Upworthy went live on March 26, 2012. By December 3, 2012—just 270 days later—the viral publisher boasted 791,000 Facebook fans, 10,000 Tumblr followers and 43,000 Twitter followers.

Do titles make that much of a difference in promoting virality? They sure do! Which title do you think generated more buzz, views and shares: “Zach Wahls Speaks About Family” or “Two Lesbians Raised a Baby and This is What They Got”? While the first one did generate one million views, the second garnered a whopping 17 million views.

Headlines are crucial to Upworthy’s success. They come up with at least 25 headlines for every post and then test their favorites of the 25. Their shares also increased by an astounding 398 percent after they added scrolling share buttons. User experience is all about creating ease for your audience.

You can’t guarantee you’ll go viral, but if you try really hard, you too can win the Internet (or at least one corner of it). For more information on content virality, check out the full infographic, courtesy of Marketo.


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