Tweeting for Virality vs. Tweeting for Likes

When you build a model that can predict the chance of a tweet going viral or getting likes, you start to notice some pretty interesting things.  Here are some insights from our latest testing around optimizing for virality on social media (we trained our model partly on a curated selection of thousands of viral tweets).

There’s a trade-off

It’s rare to see text that’s likely to score high on virality and score high on likes—what does this mean? It means that going viral likely means taking some level of risk and isn’t about delighting existing users, something I’m sure social media marketers can relate to, given the graveyard of costly failed social media stunts.

It also means that going viral isn’t about making something extremely likeable—it’s about tapping into a different emotion entirely. And while many people say negative content does seem to go viral more easily, at Slayer we think that’s a bit over simplistic.

Humans love excitement

In all our testing and analysis, the one recurring trend seems to be excitement. This can be a positive or negative thing, but all viral text is exciting to some degree. Sometimes it’s exciting because it’s declaring an outspoken opinion, or breaking news that matters to a lot of people. Ultimately, viral text involves a novel way to tap into the cultural zeitgeist (something Donald Trump’s twitter account did incredibly well, regardless of your politics).

So, how do you make your text go viral?

Well, you could ask us at SlayerAI for our model to optimize your text for virality (, but barring that, we’ve teased out three major rules from our AI model so far:

1)     Don’t maximize for likes – Doing your usual social media strategy, just bigger, won’t give you much return. You’ve got to take a level of risk here, and be willing to accept that you might fail… going viral is hard!

2)     Create excitement – This is at the core of all viral moments.

3)     Understand the risks – Going viral is hard, and usually means posting content that is outside of what you know your users like

May the covfefe be with you!