Every artist aspires to using viral marketing to encourage consumers to share information about their services or products. Much like the common cold, virality occurs when the total number of shares increases with each iteration of sharing and can spread rapidly. Kid Rock relied on the phenomenon that false information outperforms true information when he created his 2017 Senate Campaign hoax. More positive viral stories stories for that year included the Great American Solar Eclipse.
Virality can not be defined by a set number of shares to make it “explode”. YouTube research would indicate a video must have approximately a 2% reshare rate for the potential of going viral. However, according to chatter on SEO boards, there are a number of things that must happen for this to occur. A post needs to be seeded well enough to cross the threshold required to go viral. A highly targeted audience is required with large stake holders (people with lots of friends). The resharing process will start to die out when your post has been seen by the people for whom it is most relevant.
If you've decided a viral post is the best strategy for promoting your line of art, an analysis by Adweek of the most viewed videos of all time on YouTube concluded there are seven main categories for viral videos:
- Music Videos
- Kids & Babies
- Surprising Talent
- WTF?! Videos
- Offensive Comedy
- Pets & Animals
If you've seen my comics, you'll know I prefer good-natured humor. I would never recommend posting anything that could be hurtful to others. Pay it forward is a concept in which a good deed is repaid to a 3rd party instead of to the original benefactor. The concept is old but has been brought to light in popular media. International Pay It Forward Day is celebrated on the last Thursday in April. In 2018 they hoped to create a global ripple that would inspire more than 10 million acts of kindness. If good deeds went viral like “fake news” the communities in which we live would be much stronger. Viral marketing has the potential of providing free exposure. It can benefit both the artist and their community. Karma comes back three fold. Be kind.
A negative consequence of virality, "Fake News”, spread through channels like Facebook and Twitter, has severely disrupted our perception of the truth and it will most certainly get worse unless the individuals posting the content take responsibility for their actions. An outbreak of misinformation is on the horizon due to new advancements in technology. For instance, Adobe is designing a product that will allow a user to digitally create speech in the precise voice of a speaker (some call it Photoshop for Voice). In the near future, the masses will have available to them software that will create realistic video, sound clips and images of things that did not occur. Jeff Clune, director of the Evolving Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the University of Wyoming, told USA Today that the results will be “indistinguishable from reality.”
I suppose any discussion of virality as a means to accelerate the dissemination of information would include the concept of morality. Morality is a topic discussed in the shadows of night. It is sometimes seen in a negative light. Some people feel it is an infringement on their personal choice. Socially responsible talk is often seen as “old-fashioned” or “offensive”. A researcher at Newcastle University who studied the messaging used by those who were successful at implementing change suggested that quick and easy actions that fed self-interest were very effective (such as “it will save you money”), even though the long range goals of those choices may have been contrary to the views of the audience that made those choices.
My friend Greg Ziesemer, a talented musician from Indiana, wrote a poignant song about social change. I first heard the song many years ago and I think of it often. “There's a garden of Eden hidden here among the weeds, we all can reap the harvest if we start with good seeds.” While it can be applied to many aspects of life, I think it succinctly illustrates the strategy we need to take with the epidemic of misinformation that is about to be unveiled to us through new technology in this age of social media. Take a listen to the song, and enjoy!
Greg Ziesemer and Kriss Luckett performing "Good Seeds" at Sindoqua Scholarship Fund Benefit Concert at Radio Radio in Indianapolis on 9-28-2006
Gregory Ziesemer © 2003 Tiger By The Tail Music ASCAP