You may not go to sites like OMG Facts, GivesMeHope and Dose every day, but you've definitely seen their articles on your social feeds. Their viral stories promising the "28 things that people who grew up in the 90s and 2000s can relate to easily" or "24 Pinterest projects you have no business trying to recreate because you have no skills" tend to make for highly sharable content, and gets 1.1 billion social media impressions each month.
Just don't call these articles "click-bait" — the term for headlines that are stylized to get readers to click on them but provide no substance — implores Emerson Spartz, CEO of Spartz Media, which owns the sites.
"Click-bait is the opposite of what we need to do to succeed in business," he said. "Our entire business model is predicated on creating content that is inspirational enough that somebody would be proud to share it. If the headline overpromises and content does not deliver, it creates a negative share response."
Spartz admits there's no way to guarantee virality, but the 28-year-old entrepreneur — whose first major media company success was the Harry Potter fansite Mugglenet — said he has formulas that can predict what people are going to want to read. And, he wants to sell that information to brands.
"Most content that goes viral is not new, and it's not news," he said. "It something that seems like it just happened, but there's a very good chance it didn't just happen. The original creator uploaded four or five years ago, and it has been going viral ever since."
He explained that by analyzing different pockets of niche web communities (think 4chan or Reddit), you can see the cycle of how content flows to the mainstream. If you know where to find good stories and when to post, you can give your story a good chance of going viral, he said.
"That is in essence the core of what the business really is: Our ability and our algorithms helps us find the content that has the highest potential," Spartz said. "A decade of research and finding out what those patterns are is making it increasingly possibly to predict the trend."