Social media & networking

Stop saying viral

Rachel Botsman posted this via Twitter today, and I suspect it would be of interest to readers here – an excellent examination of “viral” and an argument against using that term (which I wholeheartedly support).

There’s many quotable quotes in the preso, but one that caught my attention:

“When we say something is viral we focus entirely on the content itself and not on the needs of the people that we are asking to spread our ideas” @Faris

To me that cuts to the core of the argument. I often say (and I think I once read it somewhere, though I’ve long since lost the reference) that viral is something that happens, not some attribute we can design into a communication – i.e. you don’t “make a viral”, you create something that “goes viral”. @Faris’ comment sums this up beautifully.

The preso also hints at something Duncan Watts covers in his book 6 Degrees, which is that for something to spread through networks successfully, it needs to cross different community network boundaries.

This is the power of connectors in networks – often we focus our attention on the hubs (i.e. targeting a-list bloggers, or people with large follower counts) but the connectors, the people that enable memes to jump between disparate networks, are key to the spread of ideas.