Harvard’s Take on Making A Website Go Viral

4 min readApr 25, 2023

Back in 2013, Harvard Business Review published an excellent article titled “Research: The Emotions that Make Marketing Campaigns Go Viral” by Kelsey Libert & Kristin Tynski. In today’s hyper-touchy-feely world where it seems like any words or images can set people off, why not exploit the status quo and inform MyDev users how they can make their websites super popular!

Let’s dig into the many questions users may have:

What emotionally compelling component does a website need to go viral?

There is no one component but a website should evoke strong emotions such as curiosity, amazement, interest, astonishment, uncertainty, and admiration. Additionally, the content should have a viral coefficient above 1, meaning that it generates more new viewers than the existing ones. The title should be compelling to attract new viewers, and the branding should be minimal to avoid making the content seem spammy or sales. By hitting the audience hard and fast with strong emotions, the content can break through the noise and become viral. For ideas, try watching the Netflix show “Love Death and Robots” the short film animated anthology hits the audience with a rollercoaster of emotions that by the end of 15 minutes, the person feels completely emotionally fulfilled, yet wants more (does that make sense?). As HBR points out “By creating contrast between the high levels of emotionality and areas of less emotional activation, the audience won’t find themselves becoming bored, satiated, or overwhelmed with too much of the same.”

Why is posting daily content not making you go viral?

Posting marketing content daily is a good idea since it helps build an online presence for your brand, however, in terms of going viral…it’s almost useless. According to HBR, “in this case, piles of mediocre content certainly won’t do the trick. If you don’t already have a large built-in audience.” Statistically, “With 5.3 trillion display ads shown online each year, 400 million tweets sent daily, 144,000 hours of YouTube video uploaded daily, and 4.75 billion pieces of content shared on Facebook every day, posting a few blasé blogs on the corporate website just isn’t going to cut it. You’re going to need something that cuts through the clutter.”

So, what content marketing enhancements can you make to get noticed?


From now on, no matter what type of content you’re creating for your product or service, it needs to have a catchy title that generates more viewers than existing ones.

HBR says: “Your title is what attracts new viewers. The more people you can get to consume your content, the more chances you have for getting people to share it. If you can’t get the initial click, your content is dead in the water.”

Emotional Drivers

Whether it’s the marketing video, the podcast intro, the flashy landing page, the opening sentence of your blog, it needs to convey maximum emotion. The reason why Lamborghini doesn’t have car commercials is because their product sells itself with emotion. The rush and lifestyle are felt by onlookers watching the car pass by. Your website needs to convey strong emotions that make the customer want to be a part of your product or service. People buy coffee when they are tired or low energy and want to feel better. Hence, when someone walks into a coffee shop, it’s a pleasure to be served by an attractive girl or a handsome man with a smile on their face, no one wants to buy coffee from a frowning depressed person, that conveys the wrong type of marketing like the coffee won’t work on the customer! So your website needs to convey a lifestyle or emotion that the customer needs!

Focus On Key Types of Emotion

Knowing which types of emotions to key in on can make the determination between your content or website going viral or not. HBR “looked at 30 of the top 100 images of the year from imgur.com as voted on Reddit.com.” Subsequently, Harvard then surveyed 60 viewers to find out which emotions each image activated for them.” These were the results:

1. Negative emotions were less commonly found in highly viral content than positive emotions, but viral success was still possible when negative emotions also evoked anticipation and surprise.

2. Certain specific emotions were extremely common in highly viral content:

curiosity, amazement, interest, astonishment, uncertainty, and admiration

So there you have it, your content and imagery need to convey 1 or all 6 of the emotions listed above.

The best way to start testing how these top useless emotions can be conveyed in images connected to your product or service is to use a digital AI generator like MidJounrey.Ai.

Visit MidJounrey, upload a picture of your product or service in their discord chat, copy the URL of your uploaded image, and type the following code:

/imagine prompt: paste the URL, amazement, admiration

and then hit enter

See what the AI generates on your behalf, whatever image it publishes will help accelerate your imagination in the direction your product or service needs to be emotionally marketed.

To start building your own website to go viral, visit MyDev.com. Create an emotionally stimulating online store or choose from an AI suggested template to get your customers stimulated enough to make an impulsive purchase. MyDev offers entrepreneurs an affordable and easy route to building a website, getting it hosted, and selling products fast! Get going with your eCommerce ambitions today with MyDev.com.




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