going viral

Addressing #thedress


I see blue and black/grey/goldy-brown. How about you?

Anyway. What you saw isn’t really as important, in my mind, as why you saw it.

Kottke points to this pretty incredible look at how Buzzfeed managed to dominate #thedress as it moved from trend to meme to whatever it eventually became. 27 million page views. More people visited Buzzfeed’s #thedress post than live in Australia.

“This is not said as an endorsement of BuzzFeed. BuzzFeed is utterly deserving of insanely paranoid criticism just like anyone who makes money from your attention, including me. But it’s worth pointing out that their recipe for traffic seems to be: Hire tons of people; let them experiment, figure out how social media works, and repeat endlessly; with lots of snacks. Robots didn’t make this happen. It was a hint of magic, and some science.”

Anyway. En route to that thing Kottke points to, he shared a couple of nice little anecdotes that are worth capturing and filing away in the ‘stuff to use one day in a talk’ or ‘interesting life lessons’… one of Australia’s best marketing minds (in my opinion), Sean Cummins, once said at a thing I was at “genius comes through the prolific” (he said Einstein said this, but I can’t find any thing to back that up). These are nice demonstrations of that principle.

Legend has it that Pablo Picasso was sketching in the park when a bold woman approached him.

“It’s you — Picasso, the great artist! Oh, you must sketch my portrait! I insist.”

So Picasso agreed to sketch her. After studying her for a moment, he used a single pencil stroke to create her portrait. He handed the women his work of art.

“It’s perfect!” she gushed. “You managed to capture my essence with one stroke, in one moment. Thank you! How much do I owe you?”

“Five thousand dollars,” the artist replied.

“B-b-but, what?” the woman sputtered. “How could you want so much money for this picture? It only took you a second to draw it!”

To which Picasso responded, “Madame, it took me my entire life.”

Social Media Mythbusting

College Humor is a social media icon. They make funny videos that are popular and viral both on their own site and on YouTube. Chances are you’ve seen their stuff without necessarily realising it. The College Humor CEO, the typical 20-something webtrepreneur, shared ten social media myths that you might find enlightening if trying to understand social media or trying to “seed” your stuff on social media is your thing. Otherwise they’re a bit of an insight into how the Internet works… these points are fleshed out in detail here. But the ten myths are as follows (the myths are in bold – the truths are the italics bits):

  1. People will want to watch your branded content: If your goal is 75% to entertain and 25% to sell a product, you already have a handicap” (a sub point to this one is understanding the audience of the social media outlet you’re targeting – and contextualising appropriately).
  2. People will be patient with your content “35% tune out soon after starting to watch a web video.”
  3. People will find your content
  4. The Internet is a level playing field ie. people with big readerships are more useful sharers of your content than say, this blog…
  5. We have no idea why things go viral: “…all viral videos give the user a reason to pass it on. This all has to do with identity creation: What does passing this video on say about me?”
  6. Experience beats documentation: “We have a new generation that puts documentation above experience. It’s all about Flickr feeds and Facebook status updates.”
  7. You should build your own community and tools: if you want people to share photos and whatnot, use Facebook and Flickr. You get much more exposure and reach in that way.”
  8. Keep things professional: “Show the people behind the scenes. It gives your site personality and makes it sticky. Personality drives your brand.”
  9. Traditional media is irrelevant to the web: Content creators are always working to get to TV and film — that’s where the money is.”
  10. People will create good content for you

College Humor apparently has this strategy for their content:

  • Only hit for nines and 10s.
  • The shorter the better.
  • The hook comes within the first 20 seconds.
  • Sweet spots College Humor taps into: Topical issues and “Candycorn” (cultural touchstones that everyone knows, but doesn’t actively think about).
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