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How to: creating a Sticky Situation

Updated: Apr 1, 2019

Is the dress white and gold or blue and black? The seemingly simple post took the internet by storm so much that’s the site it was published under crashed. While this isn’t a case of intended viral content it is one instance of widespread social media coverage that ignited conversation across the globe.

As workers within the communications field, we seek out opportunities to create such contagious content that it has the possibility to go viral. But how can this type of content be created and curated to reach our target markets?

When you take a moment to consider how vast the world is, an individual’s social sphere and community are but raindrops in the ocean. But, when you consider that every raindrop, or person, has a social sphere that has been extended by social media platforms. Then, a single raindrop can use its social sphere to connect like webbing across a pond.

Malcolm Gladwell and Jonah Berger were two of the first researchers to identify the causes to social phenomenons and what Gladwell calls “sticky” content. The viral content that Luttrell’s book on Social Media says is “remembered, repeated, and acted upon” (p. 144). Within every person’s social sphere is the possibility to share information across state line, countries and through language and religious barriers.

We must utilize the four common themes by Gladwell and Berger to create shareable content:

  1. creating content that tells a story

  2. what is referred to as “social currency” or content that is unusual

  3. by utilizing influencers, even those with micro networks, enables the message with authentic backing and expands the messages reach

  4. shareable worthy content

For example, let’s examine when Beyonce broke news that she was pregnant with twins. The photo she released on Instagram nearly broke the internet with shares, like’s and comments. In less than one hour, major networks had coverage on the news and Beyonce was trending on twitter. More than 11.18 likes made this the number one trending image in 2017. Beyonce’s fan base is a following that makes her story of key

Wix free images
Wix free images

importance and the shock factor acted as social currency to her social sphere. She is the key influencer in this example and has a story that resonates with her fans and their social spheres as shareable content which was picked up by many networks and shared even further.

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Your post reminds me the crazy discussion of the dress! I was in China when the post spread on the Internet all over the world. I remember how people were arguing about the color of the dress on Chinese social media platforms. It is really amazing that a post of a dress could be so popular in a short term.

It is a good example to help us understand what you mentioned later, "sticky". It is true that using influencers to help us share our content will help our content more popular. We can not ignore any potential influencers even through some of them only have micro networks.

Also, I really like your metaphor that an individual is just like…


For starters, I really enjoyed reading this article Lacey. I remember when the controversy about the dress began, I thought it was so ridiculous. I argued with my friends for days about the dress being blue and them saying the dress was white just to find out there were two dresses. Why did that post become such a huge thing? I honestly don’t know but I hope it didn’t ruin any friendships while it ran its course, lol.

When I read the four common themes used to create shareable content, I began to reminisce on all the Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat posts I’ve made throughout the years and analyzed the ones that did really bad; like I had only two…

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