Blues Legend #BBKing vs. #The(Blue)Dress — How to Go Viral
Work backward, marketers. That's the key to making content go viral, says Devin Gaffney, a Northeastern University researcher.
"People organize themselves around different types of attributes based on race and socioeconomic status and geographic location and these sorts of things," he tells the host of the WBUR public radio station on Friday during her "Here and Now" show segment. "And different types of homophily have different levels of salience for how we're going to organize our personal social networks."
Gaffney, a PhD candidate who is studying "viral cascades" (the academic term for "going viral") in the Internet science program, wasn't necessarily talking about #BBKing or #TheDress. He was talking about how they even became trending terms.
Gaffney also wasn't providing marketers with advice. But if @DGaff were, his comments could be interpreted to suggest marketers:
1. Look Closely at Groups. Did word spread about King through his family and friends, then jazz artists, then jazz fans? Maybe, because Gaffney says #TheDress — the debate about the color of a dress — went viral because the "initial person on Twitter had a Tumblr page linked to someone who was linked to the dress originally. And if you look at all the friends that this person had on Twitter, they were all related to the band Paramore." And the band Paramore, as this Target Marketing article shows, has a tendency to go viral on Twitter.
@HeatherReporter Hmmm ... I still see yellow-and-white
— Paul Bobnak (@PaulBobnak) February 27, 2015
2. Examine Geography. Online friends tend to also be offline friends.
— Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) May 15, 2015
3. Explore Topics. While offline friends are online friends, topics unite, too. Topics are the best way to unite groups that are spread out, he says.
4. Think About Persuasion. "You don't want to focus on your best friends," Gaffney says. "Because your best friends are sort of redundant. … So you actually want to step out of your circle. But too far out and you're going to get people that are going to recoil from whatever you're trying to sell them."
What else should marketers know?
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