It is a term you hear a lot in the myopic world of social media – going viral. All it means is that a video, a post, an advertisement even, has touched a spot in the people who have seen or read something. They then urge all their friends to watch or read the thing that for some reason meant something to them, and then they in turn pass it on to their friends – hence viral.
At the core though there is an intangibility about what makes something go viral. Something that can’t be quantified and nor do I think it should be. The very value of going viral is is that intangibility – the unknown reasons as to why some unplanned thing can rise with meteoritic speed in our personal and social consciousness is what makes it important.
Now though social media marketers are employing all kinds of terminology to quantify what it takes to make something go viral. Is it the music, is it the way the content is presented, is it the way the video is created, is it this, is it that?
Companies are all striving to create the next bit of viral marketing genius so they can be a part of the cool companies. They hire all kinds of social media experts in the hope that these gurus will be able to get their products insinuated within the fabric of viral geekdom. Get the YouTube views, all the cool big name blogs to write about the company’s genius moves, become the trending topic on Twitter.
In the process though these companies and marketing geniuses are only succeeding in doing one thing – destroying the whole reason, and value, of something going viral. A manufactured going viral is just that manufactured – fake, plastic, dead.