At the Social Media Masters Summit in Chicago, Buzzfeed Sales Director Colleen Callinan (@cecall) presented “13 Ways to Make Something Go Viral.” Here are her tips for creating compelling content that reaches the widest audience possible:

  1. Make content you would be proud to share.
  2. Cute animals deserve respect.
  3. Humor is inherently social.
  4. Nostalgia is (inherently social), too.
  5. Have a heart.
  6. Content is about identity.
  7. DIY.
  8. Capture the moment.
  9. Plan to be spontaneous.
  10. Be yourself, don’t fake it.
  11. Don’t post things people are embarrassed to share.
  12. There’s an Art & Science to creating great content.
  13. We’re obsessed with data.

Callinan pointed out that people often share content that they connect to emotionally, so striking that chord with people is particularly important. Think about your content through the lens of compassion – what will resonate with people most? Callinan gave the example of a no texting while driving campaign, or Get Covered Illinois created compelling content with BuzzFeed to activate their health insurance campaign.

Social is an art and a science, and there’s no exact equation for what’s going to go viral. Experiment and have fun, said Callinan, and follow these three rules that BuzzFeed knows to be true:

  • Mobile is the future.
  • Social is mobile.
  • Leisure content has changed.

Use social ads to tell a story and involve people emotionally in a way that’s not heavy-handed. Take a look at Colleen Callinan’s slides from the Social Media Masters Summit here, and see what brands have used BuzzFeed to create viral content.