Who Doesn’t Love a Sunset?

There is no question that luck is a major aspect of material going viral online. But you might be able to improve that luck if you follow some parts of a formula.

If you take a look at some of the most viral content, it is often funny, inspirational, practical, and/or engaging – usually there are positive undertones to it. More often than not, content that is negative will have a much harder time going viral.

For the “Viral Content Challenge,” I am taking bits and pieces of different formulas to see if my image will go viral. A caveat – obviously it would be a success if my image really went viral, but I’m shooting for it to go viral within my social networks. It would be great for it to extend that reach, which I plan on attempting as well.

The image I decided to use is a picture of a sunset that I took at Seabright Beach in Santa Cruz, California. Originally I wanted to put a caption on the photo, but I decided that may actually narrow the appeal of the photo to a more niche crowd.

Clouds can't defeat the sun. #sunset
Clouds can’t defeat the sun. #sunset

Here’s my thinking: I don’t know a human being that doesn’t appreciate a good sunset. Sunsets usually make people smile, trigger old memories, remind people of how amazing the world is, and to appreciate life’s natural beauty. I’m sure there are people out there that would disagree, but I’m confident that more people would agree.

But why would this go viral? A couple of reasons. First of all, it is relatable. Though one can never be certain, I’m as close to certain as possible that every person on Earth has seen a sunset at some point in his or her life.

Secondly, it’s an image that invokes positive feelings. As noted above, sunsets are beautiful, and have strong potential in making people smile. Therefore, this image has a good chance of evoking a positive, emotional reaction.

However, one of the most crucial reasons it has the chance to go viral? It is simple. There isn’t an inside joke that is behind it; you don’t have to watch a certain Netflix show to understand it; you don’t have to follow current events to appreciate it. It is simply something everyone can appreciate. This ties into the relatable factor.

Furthermore, I plan on getting this image into people’s news feeds via social media interaction. As you’ll see in my marketing plan below, there will be different questions to go along with the photo, ranging from “caption this,” to, “post a photo of your favorite sunset.” It’s almost like turning it into a game that people within my social circles and beyond can all participate in.

Ultimately, my approach is a little bit different than the seemingly always popular humor tactic. Nevertheless, I’m confident my approach will encourage user interaction, and will show success can come through simplicity. I believe that by creating something that people of all ages, all circles, and all demographics can easily relate to, my image will have a strong shot at going viral.


I took a photo of a sunset on a beach in Santa Cruz, California, and I think it is the kind of content that is readily “shareable,” a pretty picture, and simple. Often times, I feel like the simplest things are the most shared. Sometimes videos, quotes, photos, as long as they are simple. This is because they are relatable and very easy to share.


  • I want my picture to go viral! Not necessarily in the global setting, but viral in my network and to reach other social circles as well
  • Test a social media promotion strategy to see if and how it works


  • I want to get a total of 10 interactions with my Twitter questions (see editorial plan below)
  • I’d like to get 100 likes on the Instagram photo I post
  • I want the post to be shared on Pinterest – a platform I’ve never used before
  • Reach people on Facebook without being too pushy with content that over-crowds news feeds


  • I will be using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, to promote my content. I’m appealing to a large audience – those who follow me on social media, plus general users by using hashtags.
  • Daily posts on various social media, occasionally two Tweets a day, but never more than one Facebook post per day.
  • Always link to the Pinterest post, because that is what will connect my non-existent Pinterest following with my relatively large Facebook/Twitter/Instagram following.


A camera, Adobe Photoshop, and a printer.

Editorial Calendar

*Posts are subject to change as campaign takes place.

Date Time Platform Post Media
11/11/15 2:15p EST Twitter “Take a look at this sunset! <3 it to help me out!” Link to Pinterest post
11/11/15 9:00p EST Facebook & Twitter Those California sunsets though… Change cover photo on Facebook, Twitter header, link photo into tweet.
11/12/15 10:00a EST Twitter “Where is your favorite beach?” Pinterest link
11/12/15 10:00p EST Instagram Explain viral content challenge, use lots of hashtags Photo, with lots of hashtags, Pinterest link.
11/13/15 2:00p EST Twitter & Facebook Explain what the viral content challenge is Link to Pinterest, share Instagram photo
11/13/15 9:00p EST Twitter Share your favorite sunset Link to Pinterest
11/14/15 8:00p EST Twitter “Guess where this was taken” Photo in feed, link to Pinterest
11/15/15 7:00p EST Twitter & Facebook “Favorite beach activity” / Ask for engagements on FB. Share photo + Pinterest link
11/16/15 6:00p EST Twitter “Caption this” Photo Photo in feed, Pinterest link
11/17/15 8:00p EST Twitter Favorite color sunset” Link to Pinterest
11/18/15 10:00a EST Twitter & Facebook FINAL PUSH! Last call for interactions! Link to Pinterest post


I will be measuring how many likes on Facebook I get between 11/11 and 11/18, how many likes all of the Tweets related to my campaign get, comments, re-pins – all engagements. Further, I will document them after the campaign.


Budget Items Points
Paper $1
Total $1

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