In the last several weeks, protesters in Brazil and Turkey have been inspiring one another from half a world away. Through social media, protesters are exchanging tips about effective demonstration techniques and encouraging one another to persevere.
These protests are just some examples of "going viral" in today's world, says Jonah Berger, author of "Contagious." The inner workings of these campaigns can influence other causes and businesses to build social currency.
Berger talked to Smart Planet about the science of content contagion:
"One might think that only positive emotions get shared, but we found that it was more complicated than that. Some negative emotions, like anger or anxiety, increase sharing, while other negative emotions, like sadness, decrease sharing. The key is less about positive and negative and more about arousal -- the degree to which different emotions activate us or fire us up. Articles that make us angry, like Wall Street fat cats getting huge bonuses while employees get fired, drive us to share because the arousal it evokes push us to pass things on. Some positive emotions also are high arousal. Humor, excitement and even awe -- think scientific discoveries -- activate us and cause us to share."
Berger decodes some of YouTube's biggest hits on Virality Explained:
BAUMGARTNER'S FREEFALL BY RED BULL
"No, this video doesn't really tug at the heartstrings. But it does inspire an emotion at the thought of human achievement - awe... Sure, the video inspires us, but it also provides an easy story to tell. Thanks to the video, RedBull provided a great conversation starter for the water cooler."
CHARLIE BIT MY FINGER
"What's better than cats on the Internet? Cute babies-with British accents. This viral classic got so famous primarily because it makes us laugh. And it doesn't hurt that so many people have kids themselves."
"THE FORCE" BY VOLKSWAGEN
"We get a glimpse into the imagination of a child, inspiring wonder and awe... What's the best part about this story? You can't tell it without explaining Volkswagen's new remote-start feature. Now that's valuable virality."
"THE MAN YOUR MAN COULD SMELL LIKE" BY OLD SPICE
"After seeing the video just a couple times, Old Spice products themselves start to become reminders of the video. The next time someone goes to a drugstore and sees that classic red bottle on the shelf, they'll likely be reminded of this clip."