Virality
biology pop [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Virality Is History

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Nothing catches fire anymore.

Unless it’s Notre Dame Cathedral.

Or to put it another way, we haven’t had that spirit here since 2012, with “Gangnam Style.”

Of course, there are exceptions, most notably with Mayor Pete. But that was based on substance, and the truth is politics/Washington D.C. is the internet of the era. As for entertainment?

And high school kids. They’re in a pressure cooker, so their stuff spreads and we’re told it’s dominant but it’s not. That’s the failure of streaming charts. They bury all but the popular. Non hip-hop/pop acts percolate in the marketplace over time. They’re sold one by one. Therefore, they don’t shoot up the chart immediately and get no publicity, but they’re real.

You just can’t reach anybody anymore. There’s no place everybody is. A teenager wouldn’t be caught dead on Facebook, and a lot of boomers dropped out years ago. As for Twitter…forget the bots, most people signed up for an account, found the service too difficult, and never went back. So it’s a small population tweeting and reading. Furthermore, check out the number of followers of the mega-tweeters. Unless they’re household names, their numbers never break five digits, and are oftentimes much less. And most followers who are actually on Twitter don’t see the tweet, so why do it? It’s a small population tweeting on a regular basis, and most people don’t need to follow the news in real time, so…you can tweet and have no effect.

Or post a YouTube video. If you’re going for subscribers now, good luck. The influencer race peaked a couple of years ago, and those not superstars have moved on to Instagram, which is Twitter with pictures, with about an equal effect. Instagram is about documenting your life, which after the newness wears off, other people are uninterested in. It’s vapidity on parade. So expect posting to decline.

But the truth is if you’re trying to gain a fanbase from scratch, good luck. Be thankful anybody is paying attention at all.

You can post it, but that does not mean people will read it, never mind share it. We’re all overburdened with info, so we only forward the most fascinating, the most important, which is very little. And the dirty little secret is nobody reads it anyway. Bump into them and ask them, they’ll try to fake it, but the truth will be revealed.


Kind of like those e-mail newsletters with articles to read. You sign up and click through a couple of times, but then you stop, the information is not vital. God, think of how many articles have been forwarded to you that you haven’t read.

We all watch different TV shows and read different books and listen to different music. So nothing catches fire and blows up, because no one’s got the time for what they’re already interested in.

So marketers furiously look for publicity in newspapers, blogs, believing it will start a fire. But it won’t unless it’s truly eye or ear-popping. It has to be equivalent to the Beatles, or at least Adele, to get traction.

Otherwise, you’ve got to convert people one by one. Which sellers hate. Because it’s slow and difficult and you win or lose on your merits. It’s hard to fake people out, and they’re certainly not going to tell anybody else.

So, it’s about train-wreck or quality. And even then, word is gonna spread slowly. Just look at all the clickbait on legitimate websites. You know the drill, lurid headline and when you click through you’re inundated with ads, so you don’t.

Marketers have brought this upon themselves. We’re overloaded, we’re not paying attention. We have to hear it from a trusted source before we’ll click.

So nothing lights a fire on the internet overnight.

Which means that big publicity campaigns fall flat. And if you can see the sell beneath the supposed event, people are turned off. That’s what killed viral music videos.

So there is no overnight success. No instant adoption. And that’s what the system was built for, to create a towering edifice overnight.
There’s no sure-fire way to the top.


Own it.

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