Is There A Recipe For Breaking The Internet?

The key question all companies and brands want an answer to is whether or not there is a recipe to achieving viral coverage for a product they have created. How can they make their photo beat the amount of retweets Ellen Degeneres’ Oscar selfie has got? How do they create something that gains them as much internet traffic as Kim Kardashian’s nude photoshoot brought to Paper magazine’s social media? The answer is no.

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No, there is not an exact formula that companies must follow in order to achieve an internet phenomenon. There was a time when the success of a product – for example films – were measured by prestigious awards, such as the Oscars. Nowadays the success of a product can depend on its virality.

Many dedicate their time to creating a product that they hope will be popular with the masses – such as Dove’s ‘Real Beauty Sketches’ video in 2013 – and succeed. However there are also many who put a lot of work into their products – such as CocaCola’s Mexican Christmas advert in 2015 and have failed, in this case it was banned for the use of offensive stereotyping. 

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Success also happens when it is least expected, like the time Katy Perry was upstaged at the Super Bowl XLIX by her left shark backing dancer. However for every viral product that is created there are millions of other products people have created and displayed on the internet in hopes of becoming an internet sensation and have found no success.


The internet was originally created to protect military data, now its used to debate whether The Dress is blue and black or white and gold. Is this really what the internet was invented for?





  1. It is interesting that you mention how something as little as a mistake in a performance can become viral (such as Katy Perry’s shark) and actually generate more publicity for something unintentionally. However, it makes me wonder if in the future advertising and marketing executives will deliberately create ‘mistakes’ in order to gain attention. In the past, if a news reporter or radio personality made a mistake on air it could cost them their jobs but these days – more specifically with the advancement of social media taking over the internet space – these mistakes are shared all over the internet and exposed to many more viewers than they would originally, for example would British people know about absurd remarks in Donald Trump’s US speeches if it wasn’t for YouTube – ?

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  2. I like this idea and I do agree to an extent. Yes, there is no set formula for creating a viral success but I do think there are certain trends that could give you a good start. Like with Kim Kardashian, a lot of viral successes tend to work around controversy as this is what gets people talking and gets more views. Just like with Sam Pepper’s YouTube videos and the Ashley Madison leak, people go straight towards things that they can talk and debate about. This was a interesting post and I agree that this is probably not what the creators of the internet had in mind when it was first thought up!

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  3. I think that shallow topics tend to be popular on the Internet because they often do not require a specific culture or education background to be understand. for example, people from other countries may not feel related to the next US presidential election, but they would all have opinions on which colour the dress is.

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    • I agree, as the majority of the topics that have ‘broke the internet’ have mainly focused on the entertainment industry such as musicians and actors/actresses. However on the other hand one moment that ‘broke the internet’ in 2012 was Barack Obama’s ‘Four more years.’ tweet when he was re-elected for president as it was the most retweeted tweet (Until Ellen posted her Oscar selfie).


  4. The internet has certainly changed its purpose after the military, it has not only become a location where we can find or sort our information, and stay connect with others but also a place where we advertise ourselves or our products and brands. Take Facebook and Tumblr for instance, our pictures, the contents we share and the opinions we give are all ways we promote ourselves. I agree there isn’t a formula in creating a viral ad, but historical controversial topics, and topics that are relevant and recognisable to us seem to grab the most attention, i.e Donald Trump campaign, Banning of Oscars.

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  5. I think that you choose a really interesting topic here as ‘making something go viral’ is a goal that so many companies strive for (and many have achieved), yet there is still no instruction manual how to achieve it. I think this is because people’s tastes are constantly changing and the Internet as a platform is still evolving. I think much of it is about luck and timing. Perhaps attempting to guess the next trend would help you prepare something which is viral?

    However a similarity between many things which have gone viral is the fact they resonate with the audience on an emotional level often using humour or fear. Shared emotion on a subject can create a sense of community. Saying that, a lot of viral posts seem to have no point.

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