The Top 10 Most Viral Posts Of September, 2011

Wondering what it takes to make a post worth hundreds of thousands of views? I took a look at the month’s top stories to figure out what goes into making content that people can’t help but share!

10.

The Last Words Of 25 Famous Dead Writers

Social Media Editor Mike Hayes explains the thought process behind his post:

I initially came up with the idea after Bryan Graham from SI tweeted the link to this wikiquote page with like 3,000 people’s last words. I went through that site, and found all the writers, then did a few more searches to round out the list.

I also have a list of famous last words from people who were executed, but didn’t want to do that too close to Troy Davis’ execution, so as to be perceived as trying to game SEO.

I think putting the quotes on the photos helps make this post more shareable, turns it into 25 individual pieces of content that people can share if they like. Also, there was a lot of “Who had the best last words?” conversation around this post.

I also feel like literary stuff works well pretty consistently, because people like to sound smart by reacting to anything literary with like a “As you all know I’ve been reading Hemingway’s anthology for the last few months and check this out…” post on Facebook or Twitter.

9.

25 Pictures Taken At Exactly The Right Moment

Community Manager Jack Shepherd explains:

Timing is everything, and this is an amazing gallery that confirms that point over and over!

8.

Cupcakes Disguised As Other Food

Editor Donna D says:

Found content but not all at the same place. There was, sadly, a lot of searching for that many cupcake variants.

I saw the popcorn cupcake and was tempted to just post that but then figured I’d look around first to see if I could find other cupcakes decorated as food.

Dessert, and particularly well executed desserts are pretty to look at and share with your friends. Its novel and quirky and artistic and delicious all rolled into one.

Websites like CakeWrecks don’t pull in huge numbers due to magical traffic gnomes. Fancy food almost always performs well if you have the right concept.

7.

Are You Drunk Enough?

BuzzFeed Support Moderator Cates Holderness explains:

I found this image on Blame It On The Voices. I didn’t know it at the time, but it turns out this sidewalk sign was made by one of BuzzFeed’s top users, SnarkVictory. She posted an image two weeks ago of another clever sidewalk sign listing 9 reasons to drink at Cajun Mike’s, and that post received over 22,000 views.

I think the primary reason people shared this post is that a significant portion of the population enjoys drinking. I know I do. People also tend to respond well to flow charts, especially when they prompt you to have a Jagerbomb. This cleverly written flow chart combines cultural references (“Come at me, bro!”), humor, and alcohol. I also think framing the post’s title as a question encouraged viewers to click through to view the full image, because after all: you may think you’re drunk, but how do you know for sure?

P.S. I am not currently drunk enough.

6.

Thunderheads Over The Grand Canyon

Another great post from Donna D! Donna explains:

It’s just a stunning photograph of nature. I only discovered later that it’s a time-lapse of the storm and not one massive cluster of lightning strikes but that still doesn’t take away from the majesty. Nature is beautiful and scary and folks like to be in awe together.

There is a whole contingent of people on Buzzfeed and StumbleUpon and Reddit that love gorgeous wallpaper quality nature photos. They were who I had in mind with this and why I chose to use the large photo format.

5.

This Is Why Things Never Go As Planned.

This image is a remix of another which has been submitted to Reddit at least 20 times in the last two months. Simply dropping a new logo on an old cartoon made it new again, getting over 57,000 views from StumbleUpon.

The original by AdriOfTheDead was actually about Tumblr.

4.

4chan Predicts Star Wars Blu-Ray Changes

BuzzFeed community member DarthVader culled 4chan’s best to create this list of updates that George Lucas undoubtedly considered while updating Star Wars for BluRay.

Appealing to the everlastingly pedantic Star Wars fanbase, this list functions as a hall of travesties, ret-conning the sacred cannon in ways that divide and conquer all who click the link.

3.

Anatomy Of An Icon

Audrey Hepburn/Natalie Portman

Donna says:

Originally found the Angelina image on a pic dump site and reverse image searched until I found some credible sources.

I wish I had the skills to expand on this concept. It’s interesting to see how certain facial features appear again and again on celebrities.

I think it combined two favorite concepts; famous people and nostalgia. Celebrities are the closet thing Americans have to royalty so it’s fun to think about their legacies and who is the equivalent of whom.

Honestly this one was a selfish post. I posted it because I liked it and thought it was a wicked concept and wanted to share it with my friends. And I figured if I felt that way, others would too.

2.

Awesome “Someone Like You” Duet

Senior Editor Matt Stopera says “It’s beautiful, stunning, and flawless. Unforgettable! Good content does well! We were also the first people on the WWW to post it.”

1.

Scarlett Johansson Nude Photos Leaked

Finally, the top performing content all month was the post containing Scarlett Johansson’s leaked nude photos. Donna says:

Im pretty sure if I’d snapped those photos I damn well would’ve bragged about it. It’s like saying “Real Life Unicorn Found!” Only better.

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