So during my commute this morning I heard something on my mobile phone’s radio something about the ‘viral’ thing Radio 4’s Today programme has done, and how it’s being picked up. Then I went into a tunnel, and only heard the tail end of the conversation where they mentioned John Humphrys’s pink thong.
I was intrigued, not least by the thong reference, but mainly by the viral reference. I’ve heard people say they’ve ‘done something viral’ before, and it’s usually involved sending out a mass email. To my mind, that’s not viral because it’s just been sent out, and pretty much ended there. People haven’t passed it on, and they haven’t attached any of themselves to it, by including a comment for example.
I’ve said before that viral is an effect, not a strategy, and certainly not an objective. So, simply because I’m blogging about it now, as has PR Media Blog, and Tweeted about it a bit, and included it below, you could say it’s viral.
But I’m not sure.
The way I see this, a virus slowly picks up momentum because people feel they’ve ‘found’ something which they want to pass on to other people. There’s something about the content that ‘infects’ them and then they pass that on in a sort of e-sneeze. So it’s a fairly slow-burn start, but for that same reason it tends to stick around. It was passed on because people found it and liked it, and people will continue to find it and like it.
So does something follow this pattern if it’s broadcast by radio? Am I talking about this because I’ve ‘discovered’ it? Will I continue to talk about it, or come across it, in a few months’ time? Or put it another way: can you ‘infect’ a mass of people simultaneously, and have this effect continue? And am I using ‘quote marks’ too much in this post?
In the short term, if lots of people are talking about it, it’s viral, right? But in the longer term I’d like to know whether it remains so – or whether, because it popped into the public consciousness because it was broadcast to millions of people throughout the country, it’ll pop back out again before long, just like ‘normal’ news. More quotes. Damn.
I should add that almost everyone I discuss viral with has a different viewpoint from me so I’d really appreciate insights here. I could be wrong. I’m wrong, right? Tell me I’m wrong.