This Is Hands Down The Best TED Talk Ever About Social Media

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Talk about getting inspired.

One of my favorite TED talks of all time, and the best one I’ve seen about social media, is from 2017 and features Dao Nguyen, the publisher of BuzzFeed, talking about going viral. Here’s the video:

Starting with a story about an employee who was greeted by live goats in his office, which BuzzFeed live-streamed over Facebook, Nguyen goes on to explain how anticipation is a secret ingredient to viral content. “They participated in the shared anticipation that was about to happen,” she explained.

There is something about the community joining together, and pointing everyone to the same content all at once. BuzzFeed experimented with more viral content (not all of it video-related), but the one thing they found is that the usefulness of the content was most important. She asks: “How is this helping real users do their jobs?”

Today In: Social Media

The advice is spot on and applies to almost all social media content.

The problem, of course, is that we don’t all follow this dictum. We create content because we have a story to tell, or because we have an amazing photo, or because we happened to capture a video of a speaker. In short, the content drives the content. What Nguyen is saying is that the viewer or reader should drive the content. “Going viral” means tapping into massive user needs and interests.

“If we can be part of creating a real connection, then we will have done our jobs,” she goes on to say in the talk. That’s also extremely valid. Viral content always has two components: It taps user anticipation and it creates a sense of community.

Nguyen switches to a discussion about recipes and posting them online, hitting both topics of need and community.

It’s interesting to me that so many companies and even social media experts don’t think about those two things as much as you might think.

Many social media feeds become a churning mass of written articles, photo-centric posts, and well-done videos. However, there isn’t as much thought behind whether that content is really needed or wanted.

That’s the real secret, not just to viral content but all content. Who really needs this? For a company, have your customers even requested the article you are about to post? For an individual influencer, have your followers asked you to post how-to videos?

Before posting a single photo, article, or video — always ask your followers what they want. You’re attempting to communicate with them. What do they want you to communicate?