Let's face it 2016 has been a year like no other. We've seen: stunning political results; harrowing images from countries that are war-torn, with populations seriously dispersed; sad and surprising losses to world of entertainment and culture; and momentous sporting achievement juxtaposed against accusations of state-sponsored cheating.
With that panoply of events as a backdrop, this post from the excellent Steve Rayson - writing for master analysts of shared content, Buzzsumo - offers some expected and some quite unexpected winners in the battle for online content this year.
Steve has compiled a definitive list here of some of the top videos, articles and posts that went viral in 2016, analysing also by social network to see what stories were most popular with the audiences of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn respectively.
Of course, there's the anticipated Clinton and Trump commentary pieces - both noisily for and noisily against from the election period; there are articles and research heralding scientific breakthroughs in fighting cancer and Alzheimer's; and there are the novelty news items - highly shared on Facebook, for instance - proclaiming the increased intelligence of the first born child, the bigger brains of women or the proven sexiness of bald man.
Rayson ends the post by assessing what made this content so highly-shareable. He highlights, for instance, how - in a politically fractious year - we sought to share strongly worded opinion pieces that demonstrated our own views and an affiliation to one side or the next. Meanwhile, "science says" or "data proves" type content offered us credibility for long-held beliefs about our gender, about our health, or about social behaviour. And in grim old 2016, who could resist sharing those heart-warming tales of kindness in the face of loneliness and of humanity in the face of prejudice.
How was your 2016? Yes, it was a little crazy. The volume of social sharing reflected that. The act of social sharing became mainstream news itself in 2016. There were many stories about echo chambers, the sharing of false news and the impact of social sharing and news feeds on politics. We have analyzed the most socially shared content this year and set out below 30 examples of the most viral content from across the different social networks. These top viral posts by their nature are outliers and exceptional. However, by analyzing these most shared posts, we can learn a little more about the characteristics of viral content and the steps we can take to improve the potential shareability of our own content.