Going Viral

Have you ever had that moment when your posting a tweet, an Instagram picture, or maybe a YouTube video, and you say to yourself: “Oh yeah, this is great.  This is totally going to go viral!” And than your post gets little to no response on it.  Well, if your like me and have had this moment where you think you’re funnier than you actually are, then you’ve experienced disappointment about not going viral.  Every day we see things on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. blow up online.  Some times its viral for a few days, and then it passes.  And then they are other time where it gets so popular that the creators get to go on Ellen! (Yes I’m talking to you “Damn Daniel” guys) How is it that people get their content to become extremely popular online?  While there are a lot of different ways to create a popular post, and how to track it.


In Chapter 4 of Social Media Enduring Principles, Ashlee Humphreys talks about measuring social media and how it can be effective for companies and people.  Humphreys talks about three concepts that are critical to a message being made popular online: attention, engagement, and conversion.  She defines attention as the amount of exposure the message gets through page visits or views.  Then she defines engagement as the “attempt to represent how involved or responsive the audience is to a particular message.” (Humphreys 48) Simply put, engagement tries to represent how engaging the original message is to an audience.  This is the key to tracking how popular a message is on social media.  Humphreys has a great chart that demonstrates how this works.


The amount of liked, shares, or retweets that a message receives directly effects how popular a message gets.  This leads to conversion which “describes some action taken on the part of the user that the sender of that message desires” (Humphreys 49).  In the chapter she mentions the Kony 2012 campaign as a perfect example of how these three concepts are utilized.  The Kony 2012 campaign was a movement started by the organization Invisible Children, as an attempt to spread awareness about the LRA and its leader Joseph Kony.  The organization released a video online detailing all of the gruesome acts done by the LRA and overnight the video spread like wild fire.  The video received millions of views, likes and shares, and because of its clear call to action, received millions of dollars in donations.  Because of all of the engagement and the donations the video and organization received, respectively, the data was easily measurable and allowed organizations to clearly see how successful it was.


So how to we get popular on the Internet?  As simple as it sounds, having a clear and engaging message is the best way to have a social media post or video go viral on the Internet.  The post has to attract a large audience who feel a call to action to share that message or video.  Or maybe the best way is to just share funny memes and cat videos.  Those have been pretty successful in the past for a lot of people too.


Humphreys, Ashlee. “Measure Social Media.” Social Media: Enduring Principles. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2016. 43-63. Print.

SpongeBob gif: http://www.reactiongifs.com/the-internet-2/

Kony 2012 photo: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/events/kony-2012




2 thoughts on “Going Viral

  1. While I think having a clear and engaging message could be part of the equation, it is not the whole picture. Most “viral” type posts happen by accident, and luck is a big part of the process. For some viral video makers, they may have made many videos before one finally hit big. Alternatively, some “viral” posts appear to be luck and then we find out later they were made by some huge corporation that has the means to make it seem like their post was a random viral hit.


  2. I agree that having a clear and engaging message allows a post or image to go viral but maybe people share it in order to be apart of something larger and become an entity. This deindividuation allows for anyone to become associated with the viral video and be in an imagined community, as discussed in Humphreys Chapter 10. I know I would share a viral video in order to show others what I have discovered and then they would become infatuated with it. Some videos would be shared compared to others because people can relate or find that video particularly interesting/funny. (Still do not understand the Damn Daniel craze) This aspect will then satisfy the attention, engagement and conversion as you discussed in the blog post.


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