Why Does Something Go Viral?
September 26, 2012 • comment(s)
Kiri Blakeley is a long-time Forbes and ForbesWoman writer. She covers entertainment, celebrities, trends, models, and female-oriented stories and is the author of "Can't Think Straight: A Memoir of Mixed-Up Love."
No one can deny the power of the virus. No, not that kind of virus. The Internet kind!
Whether it’s a video, a song, a picture, or a blog, something going viral can mean the difference between success and failure; riches and poverty; immortality and obscurity; life and death. Okay, maybe not that last one—unless you are seeking a kidney transplant.
But why does one thing go viral and something similar not?
Susan Boyle had a spectacular appearance on Britain’s Got Talent, but it wasn’t until a video of the portly singer went viral that she became a worldwide sensation. Absolutely no one would know who teen crooner Rebecca Black was without her video for her off-key rendition of “Friday” going viral. Nora the Piano Cat’s over-30 million hits on YouTube has allowed the tabby’s owner to cash in with Nora-inspired books, DVDs, calendars and T-shirts.
A few years ago, most of us journalists could write something, file it, and forget about it. Now we are “bloggers,” and expected to not only create content but to promote it, and many of us are now paid by the traffic we generate.
So I think it’s safe to say that a significant portion of the population is anxiously hoping for something to go viral. It sounds simple enough: Write, film, record, or otherwise create something, upload it to the appropriate site or sharing network, and wah-lah! Fame and riches will follow.