There’s a saying in Hollywood that if you made all the films you said no to and rejected all the films you said yes to, you’d still have the same number of blockbusters under your belt. That’s because while it seems like there’s a formula to creating a winner, no one really knows exactly what will make something a success or a flop.

The same applies to going viral on social media. You can’t just wave your magic social media wand and say “accio virality”. Sometimes you can put in a ton of hard work and…nada. Sometimes a silly thing you whipped up in thirty seconds makes it to the big leagues.

Given all that, you’re probably wondering how something goes viral in the first place. Well, virality is kind of like a pebble landing in a pond. Here’s how it works:

Step one: the inner circle. When you hit post, your content goes out to your inner circle – the people most likely to engage with your stuff. These are the ones who follow you, and like and share your posts all the time. Because they’re your die-hard fans, the algorithm makes sure to show them your content first.

Step two: the outer circle. If your regulars engage with your content, then the algorithm gives it the thumbs up, and shows it to your next ring of people – friends of friends or people who follow you but who haven’t seen your content in a while. Engagement is a signal of quality, which means the algorithm wants to keep surfacing it.

Step three: more and more circles. If that second ring of people also engage by liking, sharing, commenting, and so on, your content will keep spreading and spreading. It’ll show up on the Discover/FYP page, in their feed flagged as content their followers have engaged with, or even shared to stories or inboxes. And so on and so on…

While it’s impossible to say whether something will go viral, there are factors that can make it more likely to happen. They include:

-Relevant, engaging content! (Wow, big surprise!) Think how-tos, tips, did you knows, before and afters, remixes – all of these drive virality.

-Viral-friendly content. Memes, videos, funny stuff, cute stuff, “that’s so real” stuff are all viral-friendly. Pics of nature? Less so. (Platform matters, too, which is why you should be on TikTok!

-Trending topics or music. Getting on the bandwagon for a meme, hashtag or timely topic can help encourage eyeballs and engagement.

-Lucky timing. Sending out that post when all your regs happen to be online and scrolling means that engagement will happen all at once, and quickly.

-Accessibility-friendly. Add those captions and descriptions to make sure you’re reaching as many people as possible!

(And remember, if you do go viral, make sure you’ve got a plan for transforming those new eyeballs into potential customers. Encourage those follows, shares, click-throughs and sign-ups!)

While only a genie in a bottle can grant you eternal virality, Oh Snap! can give you the tools you need to create content what will help you get there. Ready to create some engaging content that will start that ripple effect? Let’s talk