Friday, Rebecca Black and Virality

17 Mar

If you haven’t seen this yet, good for you. I’ve just ruined your life.

Yes, it’s absolutely awful.


I think there’s an insight into how memes work that we can see on display here.

First, the video has been on YouTube since February 10, yet it just took off this past weekend. It didn’t go viral by itself. The material itself did not spread only through person-to-person media. It took off after a Comedy Central show gave it a shout-out last week.

It got enough steam to be noticed by mainstream media, but it didn’t take off until given a mainstream media boost.

This whole situation will probably be used as an example of virality, and it is. But in this case the mainstream media still played a boosting role. The MSM was not just an observer, but was a player.

This is important because it shows that the relationship between relational and mainstream media is more complicated that observer/creator. There are creators and boosters and observers.

I think this situation should serve as a warning for mainstream media outlets that view themselves as viral observers instead of viral boosters. Instead of waiting for a meme to explode and reporting on it, discover what the next memes will be. Be a place where your users know they’ll see the next big thing.


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