“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!
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