What makes something go viral? Click here (a lot!) to find out

A picture of a good-looking man running a race in Charleston has become an Internet sensation and sparked a discussion about what makes an image or video go viral.

If you do a Google search of "ridiculously photogenic guy", links to the man's picture pop up before you can even get halfway through the first word.

A friend took Zeddie Little's picture while he was running in the Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston, posted the image to the social networking site Reddit and almost instantly, the picture produced millions of hits on Google and other sites. Why did it take off?

"He's just really, really cute and looks so happy," said Coastal Carolina University student Chyna Stevenson.

But it's a mystery to CCU student Avery Kelly. "I don't know why this guy went viral. He got lucky. I don't know."

Along with the photogenic guy, there's the Kony 2012 video that focused world attention on an African warlord. And, closer to home, there's former CCU football coach David Bennett's riff on how his players should act more like dogs than cats.

The coach's rant gained attention because it was entertaining. But why do those other things take off?

"It's the unpredictability of viral video is what gets everybody," said NewsChannel 15



eb Content Producer Taylor Williams.

Williams said going viral comes from the ease of content sharing on social sites like Facebookand Twitter and the human desire to not want to be left out.

"Nobody wants to be the last person to know what's going on, on the Internet."

Added CCU student Sarah Craig: "Even if people maybe have no idea what even the issue is, they just want to make sure they're not kind of being left behind in the social trends."

But, you should think twice before you hit send on your latest video. The North Carolina dad who shot his daughter's laptop to teach her a lesson didn't expect to spark a national debate on parenting.

"Once you put something on the Internet, it's on the Internet. Whether you think it's something harmless that's never going to go anywhere, that's when something goes viral."

Williams points out another factor: how something is titled. If the "ridiculously photogenic guy" picture had been called something like "good looking man", it probably wouldn't have gone anywhere.