The Six Things That Make Stories Go Viral Will Amaze, and Maybe Infuriate, You [newyorker.com]
In 350 B.C., Aristotle was already wondering what could make content—in his case, a speech—persuasive and memorable, so that its ideas would pass from person to person. The answer, he argued, was three principles: ethos, pathos, and logos. Content should have an ethical appeal, an emotional appeal, or a logical appeal. A rhetorician strong on all three was likely to leave behind a persuaded audience. Replace rhetorician with online content creator, and Aristotle’s insights seem entirely modern. Ethics, emotion, logic—it’s credible and worthy, it appeals to me, it makes sense. If you look at the last few links you shared on your Facebook page or Twitter stream, or the last article you e-mailed or recommended to a friend, chances are good that they’ll fit into those categories.
Aristotle’s diagnosis was broad, and tweets, of course, differ from Greek oratory. So Berger, who is now a professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, worked with another Penn professor, Katherine Milkman, to put his interest in content-sharing to an empirical test.
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