Exponential Spread


                At work I face the idea of Viral video every day. A client will approach us and ask us to make them some kind of viral content.(whether it is video, audio, imagery…) But what most of these people do not get is that you do not just make something viral. There is no set formula to making a viral video. It is an unexpected product. The idea is that you cannot control it, like a virus in the medical world. The content expands at a rate that you cannot control or really influence that much. Now obviously there are ways to help your fledgling video into viral stardom, but it is more like a nudge in a direction not steering down the path.

                Now the things that could help content become viral range massively, much like the content that is considered viral. I personally think that “Viral” is to weak of a definition. The ideas that “Viral” encompasses are to widespread and vague. Think of some examples of viral content, Nyan Cat, Peanut Butter Jelly Time, Key Board Cat, Star Wars Kid. These videos do not share much in common other than humor, and these are not that great of examples. (Just what came to me off the top of my head.) But could you consider a television show or a book viral? Their popularity can spread in almost the same way as the videos that I listed above. How about Harry Potter? The book was written by a no name author that struggled to get the book published. When it finally makes it to the shelves it starts slow but in almost no time it explodes and becomes the number one selling young adults book. That then leads to the highest grossing film series of all time. All this popularity sparked almost overnight.  

                One of the important ideas behind viral video is how it spreads. Not how much it spreads, but how that spread happens. The spread of viral media happens through a “Word of Mouth.” Although users may not actually speak about the media directly the idea that views bring more views is essentially the same. Content on many popular sites are organized by their popularity. More purchases, views, hits, or any other measurement on how popular something is push it to the top of the list. Things at the top of the list become more popular, so the effect is a giant loop. To become more popular you need more hits, but to get more hits you need to be more popular. This loop is what leads to content that soars to the top. The exponential growth, is where the media gets its name. Viruses spread through the body at an exponential rate just as media spreads through the body of consumers.


In your mind what is it that makes media viral?

Is their a system to follow to create viral content?

Is this only limited to online media, or could books or other forums of offline media be considered?