When things go VIRAL!


“It went viral”… an unusual phrase that is now a firm favourite in the vocabulary of social media users and the media. But what actually is going ‘viral’?

Basically, Going Viral refers to when a piece of information – be it a tweet, blog, status update etc – becomes hugely popular, incredibly quickly through other internet users liking and sharing the content. There does not seem to be a specific measurement of viralness nor any exact criterion for deciding whether something is viral or not (please let me know if you know otherwise!). However, if most of the people you meet in the offline world have mentioned something they have seen online, the chances are it went viral!

Many social media users dream of having a tweet, blog or update that goes viral, or a photograph that makes the popular page on Instagram. But what about when going viral backfires…

Occasionally someone aims for their video to go viral and actually succeeds!

But, not always with the desired effect…

Take for example the woman who recently filmed herself complaining at Dunkin Donuts. The woman videoed herself making the complaint with the aim of uploading the video to Facebook to shame the business. Unfortunately for her, her confrontational approach backfired and the video went viral with viewers supporting the Dunkin Donuts staff and expressing their disgust at her behaviour.

and sometimes people end up the unsuspecting stars of a viral video…

This is more common with celebrities or others in the public eye. For example, Florence from Florence and the machine, recently played at a small gig where she did not perform at her best. In the pre-social media days news of this small gig would probably not have reached many outside of the small number of people present. Florence’s dignity would have remained largely intact. However, today the information and accompanying YouTube video spread like wildfire. A small mistake at a small, seemingly trivial gig turned into a much bigger deal!

Similarly, Rihanna was recently seen stumbling around at Kings of Leon concert. While most of us mere mortals are fortunate to not have our jollier moments captured on video and spread around the world, Rihanna was not so lucky. By morning the video was everywhere, the story was broadcast across radio and splashed across newspapers and most of us had received about ten thousand copies of it via our social media newsfeeds.

So the moral of the story? Be careful what you wish for the next time you wish that something of yours goes viral!



Image courtesy of Ā© Chrisharvey | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images


16 responses to “When things go VIRAL!

  1. Hi Dawn
    Loved this post, and agree with you that there are times when people wish they had not gone viral. Looking forward to reading more

  2. Its strange…sometimes this can go both ways.. the ‘Adult’ producers sometimes use this angle for publicity… Then again I saw the video about the ‘cat woman’ of coventry who cruely dumped a kitten in a wheely bin! Why would someone do that? That video went viral over night.

  3. I think this brings up an interesting question – what about something makes it “go viral?” Does it resonate with people? Does it not fit with social norms (and thus “we must” pass it on)? Good thoughts!

  4. The lady at Dunkin Donuts was insane – no wonder it went viral. I would love for my content to go viral, but only in a positive manner. If only it were that easy to choose. šŸ™‚ I look forward to reading your content.

    • Thank you Rachel. It’s certainly not just you, sometimes I wonder why certain videos/photos etc are so popular too!

      Likewise, my content is more than welcome to go viral if it’s for a nice reason šŸ˜‰

  5. Hi Dawn,
    So true. Things all to often go viral for all the wrong reasons. But my favourites include the more positive ones – like the elderly couple entertaining the crowd with their impromptu piano performance and the young girl telling herself in the mirror how ‘good’ she is. They definitely bring a smile to your face!
    Great blog and I look forward to followibg your posts.

  6. Pingback: Chasing followers: The pursuit of numbers on the web. | The Cyber Psyche·

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