Got a post that you want to go viral? Heed Aristotle, the New Yorker counsels, and pick something with ethos, pathos, or logos.
That is, make it ethical, emotional, or logical. Even better, make it all three. As Maria Konnikova noted this week, the Greek philosopher was talking about oration, not the Internet.
But he makes for a catchy introduction to a journal article by two Wharton profs - Jonah Berger and Katherine Milkman - who have studied the most shareable sorts of content.
"Berger and Milkman found that two features predictably determined an article's success: how positive its message was and how much it excited its reader. Articles that evoked some emotion did better than those that evoked none - an article with the headline 'Baby Polar Bear's Feeder Dies' did better than 'Teams Prepare for the Courtship of LeBron James.' But happy emotions ('Wide-Eyed New Arrivals Falling in Love With the City') outperformed sad ones ('Web Rumors Tied to Korean Actress's Suicide')."
A little anger goes a long way, the professors found in analyzing the most-read and most-shared articles from the New York Times. But accenting the positive seems to make a piece more viral. The point is to arouse an emotional response.
The study was published in the Journal of Marketing Research. Berger notes that as these principles become commonplace, they lose their currency.