Spreading a virus that doesn’t make you sick

21 06 2011

I’m always flabbergasted by what goes viral, and I don’t mean the H1N1 virus. I’m amazed by what we pass around to each other online in exponential fashion. You know what I mean: videos, articles or photos that we see posted somewhere that prompt us to share them with friends and family.

Scott Stratten, one of my favorite marketing guys and author of “UnMarketing. Stop Marketing. Start Engaging,” says you know something is viral when you say, “Holy sweet mother, did you see what just happened? … I’ve got to show this to somebody.”

Most recently, here are a couple of things I’ve shared. More than 35 million (yes, million) have viewed this video of this young girl singing Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.”

On his blog, Scott posted about an awesome experience he had with Magnum Ice Cream. I, too, thought it was awesome and shared it.

What have others shared with me?

My friend James, one of the smartest people I know, shared this amazingly cheesy video the other day. I’m stunned that it has had 390,008 views. Watch it, and you’ll wonder as well. But, it did meet Scott’s criteria of “Holy sweet mother, did you see what just happened?”

James also sent this one, which has 694,501 views so far. It’s like a train wreck: awful yet I can’t look away.

 I can’t imagine sharing this with my granddaughter, “B.” I think it would scare the ruffled panties right off of her.

So, what does all this sharing mean for people like me, marketers? Well, we all know that people value much more content they get from family and friends than from marketers. So, if your friend sends you a photo or video or article about our university, you’ll likely pay more attention to it than if you got it from me. Admit it. It’s OK. You won’t hurt my feelings.

Although, we can help the process along by making sure that the content is easy to share, includes something for free, and is something people will want to share because sharing it will make them look cool or smart.

Here’s one more for you. This shows you how to make the best prime rib ever. Again, it came from James. I made it last fall and was a culinary hero in my house.  Just follow the instructions exactly, and you’ll be a culinary hero, too.

Now it’s your turn. What have you shared and why? Tell me. I really want to know.

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11 responses

21 06 2011
dcaryll

I thought this was a pretty amazing thing for us to be able to see: http://www.grindtv.com/snow/blog/26377/skiers+amazing+avalanche+cliff+jump+becomes+internet+sensation/

The internet has allowed viral videos like this to show us things we would never before be able to see unless we partake in them ourselves.

Good post. I enjoyed the videos.

21 06 2011
Pat

Wow, that video was amazing. Thanks for sharing it.

You’re right. The Internet allows us to see and share things we never could before — the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I often wonder what graduate students did before the Internet.

21 06 2011
James

I recently read (I wish I could find it) about how marketers are trying to purposefully create viral videos and how often they fail miserably. The viral-ness of the viral video depends so much on authenticity. People are better at sniffing out professionally produced material than advertisers thinik they are.

James (your friend who apparatly needs a break from YouTube)

21 06 2011
imcpat

James, who needs a big break from YouTube (although Dom is forever your friend for sharing the prime rib video),

For me, one of the most frustrating things about all of this sharing is that it is really out of our hands. For someone who is a little too controlling for her own good, that bugs me.

People will share what THEY want. Not what we would like them to. And, it’s pretty hard to predict what they’ll want to share.I still can’t believe that many people have seen that grandmother video.

21 06 2011
Kathleen

My father and I tend to go back and forth with youtube videos, and most recently we’ve been on a big “people voicing over animals doing funny things” kick. Obviously we’re into very intellectual things ; )

The honey badger video was the latest, but I don’t want to fill your blog with any swearing (it’s in the video) so here’s another one:

I really enjoyed your blog, you don’t really think about how often these things are spread. Last week we took a whole half an hour at work to go into a room and watch a funny youtube video (manager approved)….and I’m sure all of us went out and sent it to others.

21 06 2011
imcpat

Animals with British and Scottish accents. You can’t beat that.

As I mentioned to James, it’s nearly impossible to predict what people will like and share. And, since universitiies tend to be kind of serious and tame, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to find/create something that thousands of people will want to share. Sigh … But, I’ll keep at it.

Thanks for sharing this. I hope all is well with you in the ‘Burgh.

23 06 2011
Joyce

As a runner and triathlete, I see and share a lot of videos that offer motivation for these sports–Ironman finishes, people overcoming disabilities to finish a race, against-all-odds comebacks. I appreciate a brand that doesn’t just try to sell me things, but rather can inspire me to get my butt out the door for a workout!

23 06 2011
Pat

Joyce,
I agree with you about sharing videos that inspire and motivate. There’s such a plethora of shareable content available, that we can find just about anything we want and then pass it along to those people who we know will appreciate it.

That’s why my friend James shared the prime rib video with me. He knows I love to cook and that I’m married to a pretty serious carnivore.

If you happen to have one of those motivational videos handy, I’d like to see it. I’m not a triathlete, but there are days when I need a little extra motivation to get to the gym in the morning.

23 06 2011
Bob

Pat –
A childhood friend grew up to be a trainer to the stars and rep for New Ballance Shoes. She has soem great tips and advice about helathy living (appearently I don’t follow to closely). SHe has great stuff on here facebook page and readily answers questions of any and all comers. Check her out.
https://www.facebook.com/HollyPerkinsFitness
Bob

23 06 2011
Bob

wow – i need to proof before post . . . speed kills.

23 06 2011
Pat

Bob,
Thanks for sharing. I’ll definitely check out her page. As I get older, I find I’m more and more interested in advice for healthy living, although I pretty much know the mantra: No fried foods. No drinking. No smoking. No red meat. Limit sugar and salt. Exercise. Exercise. Exercise.

As for the prime rib recipe, you gotta check it out. Dom and Max said it was the best prime rib they’ve ever eaten. Just follow the instructions exactly and don’t open the oven door even though you’ll be tempted..

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