The Most Shared Content Is… Quizzes

No one liked them in school, but now everyone does on the Internet.
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No one liked them in school, but now everyone does on the Internet.

Quizzes, we’ve all done them. They can waste the time of even the most savvy Internet user. And it’s not just trash quizzes that tell you which Kardashian you are, but it’s even true at the most sophisticated corners of the internet. Last year, the most visited story at the New York Times website was a quiz about regional variations of American English. It gained more views than any other story that year in just 11 days of being a quiz.

In fact, quizzes have been recognized as such high drivers of traffic that it has spawned its own business model, with Qzzr stepping out as the first startup to offer quiz-based content to major web domains, and which just picked up $2 million in seed capital. Qzzr is based on a free-muim model: you can use its technology to create all the quizzes you want, but if you want to see the metrics and analytics, that’s going to cost you.

According to the folks at Qzzr, quiz posters average a conversion rate of 14.7 percent for sales leads and 23.2 percent for special offers with a 330 percent month-over-month growth rate.

No one liked quizzes in school, but now everyone likes them on the Internet. Here’s a look at quizzes that have gone viral and what that says about media, content, and ourselves.

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1. Which City Should You Actually Live In? This quiz came from BuzzFeed earlier this year, and has accumulated over 20.5 million views. It’s the perfect combination of social engagement without any limiting factors tied to TV shows or generational references. Everybody lives in a place, and this quiz engages based on the idea that people want to either confirm to themselves that they are in the right spot or give them ideas where they might want to move. It’s considered to be one of BuzzFeed’s “most viral posts of all time.”

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2. Which Disney Princess Are You? Also by BuzzFeed from earlier this year, this is a quiz that preys on young office workers’ nostalgia on what they thought the world was going to be like during their obsessed-with-Disney phase. Mostly for the ladies, but not entirely. Naturally, the Disney content team reposted the quiz on their own blog about six months later, continuing the long tail of this evergreen content with nearly 1.9 million views.

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3. Which Game of Thrones character are You? This quiz from The Oatmeal is essentially a parody of these BuzzFeed-style quizzes, which proves how popular they are. Most quizzes on The Oatmeal are ridiculous, like How Long Could You Survive After Kicking A Bear in the Balls? This Game of Thrones quiz is no different. If you know the show, you get the joke. If not, you’re just going to ask, “Who is Hodor?” And people will laugh at you.

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4. Meyers-Briggs Personality Test. OK, so not exactly a BuzzFeed-style traffic driver, but it’s basically the internet’s original purity test, and if you don’t know if you’re an INFP, an ESTJ, or some combination thereof, then you need to re-take this standard quiz immediately.

5. How Nerdy Are You? This is the Meyers-Briggs test for the IT department, because we already know they are introverted judgers. The question is, how nerdy are they by nerd standards. From NerdTests.com, which also posts user-generated quizzes, like Are You A Trekkie? and Are You Ready For Military Life?

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6. What’s Your Real Age? A relic of Web 2.0, this popular quiz has been repackaged with a celebrity and still going strong.  This Dr. Oz quiz is super popular because Dr. Oz talks about it on his TV show, and anything Dr. Oz talks about turns to gold because he’s big buddies with Oprah. The site claims that “millions” have taken it, but unlike BuzzFeed or any of these other quiz platforms, Sharecare requires users to register with personal information before taking the Dr. Oz “real age” test… so do that if you want, but make sure you uncheck the pre-checked box to “receive the latest health news … from Sharecare,” or Dr. Oz is going to be emailing you every single day.

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7. Which New Book Should You Read This Fall? This BuzzFeed quiz came out the first week of October, and generated 16,000 views in its first day online. It’s not an evergreen post like the Disney Princesses quiz, but much more engaging in terms of creating meaningful engagement between the quiz takers and this autumn’s crop of new books. So maybe you can sacrifice some shelf life for some realtime interaction, using the quiz format to pair audience members with fresh content and product sales.

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8. Test Your Sex IQ. All these online quizzes owe their existences to the original popular quizzes that began in the print edition of Cosmo Magazine (remember that?). So naturally, Cosmo quizzes have migrated online, including this one to test your sexual IQ.

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9. Name these haircuts from 2014’s FIFA World Cup. ESPN’s SportsNation gears a lot of its content toward fan engagement, but quizzes like these seem to miss the point of BuzzFeed-style viral-bait quizzes, like “Which ‘Grease’ Pink Lady are You?” In the ESPN quiz, you might not feel good about yourself in you confused Marion Balotelli’s mohawk with Alex Song’s, but if you take the Grease quiz, there are no losers and everyone feels good about themselves at the end.

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10. Who’s Your TV Boyfriend? This is the reason quizzes were invented: mindless speculation based on televised fantasies. Consequently, nearly a million people devoured this quiz in the first four days.