Few mainstream journalists can swim so well and so deep in the economics of and on the web as Felix Salmon. In his latest piece, Salmon tries to decipher a recent chart on The Atlantic which shows that Upworthy gets the most Facebook likes and Twitter shares per article, leaving the second place way, way behind.
He presents a formula he calls the “mathematics of virality”:
You can see that a relatively small tweak to the variables in the S·F·C formula can make a very big difference to your total pageviews. Pretty soon you can double your initial pageviews, or treble them — and, then, when S·F·C exceeds 1, you achieve escape velocity: your article just keeps getting shared more and more and more. Getting S·F·C > 1, then, is the goal of all would-be viral content, and it’s by no means impossible: if 5% of an article’s readers share it, and those readers have 200 friends each, and 25% of people who see the headline click on it — well in that case, S·F·C is a whopping 2.5, or 250%.
The emphasis above are mine, and I urge you as a reader of these lines to think about your ever-growing role in the success of your favorite independent writer, podcaster, or musician. And if the anti-linkbaiter in you starts to wonder whether Salmon has gone social-media-guru, wait until his conclusion.Share: