Going Viral: A Meditation in Three Movements

Movement I:  My Inbox
Below is a recent email exchange I had with friend, co-worker, and fellow blogger, Rocky Prozeller:

Rocky:  “The awesomeness contained within must be shared with the world at large.”
Me:  “So weird.  I just got this from [name of other colleague] and two friends who don’t work here.”
Rocky:  “Must be what’s hot, received a similar message from my cousin moments ago…Wonder where these things start?”

What’s hot?  A few weeks ago, it was textsfromlastnight.

Movement II:  Facebook
Earlier the same day, I posted a question for my Facebook update:  “Tell me your favorite quote from the TV show Arrested Development.”  While I only received 15 responses to “My Wall,” I heard from numerous friends who didn’t want to post a quote, but were spending a good portion of their day laughing at and (re)reading the quotes posted by others.  Further, friends of mine with no connection to each other were correcting quotes, commenting on episodes.  I could hear colleagues laughing as new quotes were added; it was fantastic.

What’s hot?  At that moment (in my social network), it was the social glue of an affinity (and longing) for great comedy.

Movement III:  Coupon Email
Back to my inbox, I got an email from a brand I like for an online shopping discount; the text of the email encouraged me to forward it on to friends.  I didn’t.

What’s hot?  Not this, not for me anyway.

Getting me to be an agent in a viral campaign/experience is pretty easy:  I’ll forward something that will lighten my day and make me laugh, but, more importantly, that will make my friends laugh with me.  Coupons won’t do it, but a little humor or a taste of schadenfreude during the work day?  That’s viral gold.