The Art and Science of Storytelling: How to Create Viral Content

Aadil Verma

Hatched by Aadil Verma

Jun 01, 2024

4 min read


The Art and Science of Storytelling: How to Create Viral Content

Storytelling is a powerful tool that has the potential to captivate audiences and create a loyal following. Whether you're a content creator or a social media manager, understanding the key elements of storytelling can help you craft compelling narratives that resonate with your target audience. In this article, we'll explore the insights shared by Shaan Puri and Zaria Parvez on the importance of storytelling and how to create viral content.

Shaan Puri, in his interview on the How I Write Podcast, emphasizes the significance of intention and obstacle in storytelling. According to him, every hero in a story, whether it's a fictional character or a real person, must have a clear intention and face obstacles that prevent them from achieving their goals. This simple formula of intention + obstacle keeps the audience engaged and ensures that the story remains compelling. The example of Harry Potter wanting to live while facing the obstacle of Voldemort trying to kill him perfectly illustrates this concept.

On the other hand, Zaria Parvez, the Social Media Manager of DuoLingo, shares her insights on creating viral content on TikTok. She explains that her decision to focus on TikTok was influenced by her familiarity with the platform and its immense user base. Recognizing that TikTok has the highest monthly active users (MAU), she saw an opportunity to bring people back to the DuoLingo app by leveraging the platform's popularity.

Parvez highlights the importance of understanding the science behind TikTok's algorithm and trends. When hiring for her team, she prioritizes candidates who can grasp the concept of a trending audio, find ways to incorporate it into their content, and create captions and text that are entertaining. While there is a certain degree of copying prevalent on TikTok, she encourages content creators to put their unique spin on trends, which is appreciated by the platform's users. Starting with imitation can be a great way to gain traction, but it's crucial to evolve and develop unique storylines as the audience becomes more familiar with the content.

At DuoLingo, the social media team treats their TikTok account as a sitcom, with each video being an episode in a larger storyline. They have created characters like Duo, their mascot, and Lily, an emo girl who is always roped into Duo's shenanigans. By building lore and incorporating fun and innovative elements, they engage their audience and create a memorable experience. Parvez emphasizes that not every video needs to tie back to the app or the language learning process. Instead, they focus on creating content that entertains and resonates with their audience.

When it comes to repurposing content for different platforms, Parvez mentions that about 75% of their approach is rip and replace, while the remaining 25% is tailored to suit the specific platform. They have divided their team based on generational divides, with different individuals responsible for different social media channels. This helps them understand the nuances of each platform and create content that aligns with the audience's expectations.

Based on these insights, here are three actionable pieces of advice for mastering storytelling and creating viral content:

  • 1. Define clear intentions and obstacles: Whether you're telling a story or creating content, ensure that your hero or protagonist has a clear intention and faces meaningful obstacles. This will keep your audience engaged and invested in the narrative.
  • 2. Understand the platform and its audience: Before diving into content creation on any platform, take the time to familiarize yourself with how it works and what resonates with its audience. Understanding the platform's unique features and trends will help you create content that stands out and captures attention.
  • 3. Evolve and innovate: While imitation and copying can be a starting point, it's essential to develop your unique voice and storylines. Experiment with different formats, styles, and concepts to keep your content fresh and engaging. Don't be afraid to take risks and try new things.

In conclusion, storytelling and creating viral content require a mix of art and science. By understanding the key elements of storytelling and adapting them to suit the platforms and audience preferences, you can create content that captivates and builds a loyal following. Remember to define clear intentions and obstacles, understand the platform and its audience, and continuously evolve and innovate to stay ahead in the digital landscape.

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