Recently, we learned the difference between viral media, spreadable media, and sticky media from the excerpt of the book Spreadable Media. What most of us call viral would actually classified as spreadable. Adorable cat videos that your friends post all over your social media feeds are an example of spreadable media. Your friends found them and they appealed to them so they wanted to share them with you in hopes that you’ll enjoy them. Opposing spreadable media is viral media that holds true to its name. This media comes in the form of such things as pop ups and diverted web pages. A person doesn’t go looking for it, it just shows up and spreads itself through clicks in the right places.
Where viral media uses trickery and lies to spread itself, spreadable media needs to convince actual people that it’s worth sharing. The following graphic from Harvard Business Review shows why the sharers of a particular video shared the video.
From the chart, opinion seeking is the biggest reason why people share. The video made an impression on them and they want to see if their friends and associates have either a similar opinion or possibly even a dissenting opinion. The other top reasons for sharing, social utility and conversation starting, also revolve around a sharer’s friends. With this tidbit of information, the best way to make a video, picture, or hashtag go viral is to make it so that people will want to share it with their friends and their friends share it with their friends and so on until it’s everywhere, like loose glitter.
Another aspect of getting spreadable media to launch is to launch it from the right location(s). A video of rabbits playing hockey loaded only to YouTube might go ‘viral’, but it’ll take a long time for someone to sift through the millions of videos on YouTube and find it and then share it. If you load your rabbit hockey video to YouTube and then link it to every access point you have on the internet, then it has a better chance of spreading. Eventually someone of note on the internet will find it and post the hockey bunnies to their blog or site that has hundreds of thousands of followers and then it becomes glitter.
Just think of places you were introduced to ‘viral’ videos on the internet; chances are it was on a popular site. Have you ever seen a ‘viral’ video before it was ‘viral’? Have you ever posted something that was found later on somewhere you didn’t expect to see it?