Why Does a Post Go Viral? The Power of Social Media

Alex From Target: The Internet’s Newest Celebrity

Over the weekend, Buzzfeed posted an article about teenagers of the Internet making a picture go viral, causing Target worker Alex to become a trending topic on Twitter and other social media platforms. As of today, nearly 5pm in California, #alexfromtarget is still a top trending topic on Twitter. In fact, this kid’s Twitter account blew up overnight, and he now has 235K followers. People have even begun an Alex From Target fandom, writing fictional stories and making memes. Alex’s girlfriend gained masses of followers, not to mention death threats. Like, woah.

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 17.10.04Image via Twitter.

How did it all start? With a tweeted picture of Alex from Target, taken by a teenage girl. Alex was apparently unaware of the photo being taken, and found out via social media that he had become an overnight sensation. According to Huffington Post, Target is thrilled about their employee’s new found fame, perhaps hoping that this will bring some good and much-needed exposure for the brand and store.

The Comment That Got Me Marriage Proposals

In August, I made a comment on one of my favorite Facebook fan page’s photos: Humans of New York. I not only happened to be one of the very first commenters (a lucky feat, since the page has over 10 million fans), but one of the top commenters as well. I made a comment about moving to Spain for the summer (the topic was related to the photo shared by HONY) and my Facebook account started blowing up.

The comment itself received hundreds of likes, nearly 100 comments, and just as many replies to comments. I received over 45 friend requests from around the world, and even more private messages than that. In fact, I got 3 or 4 marriage proposals, lots of guys telling me I was hot or had a nice smile, and others asking if we could be Internet friends. 

I did not accept any friend requests or reply to any private messages. Needless to say, I was floored by the response. My comment didn’t go viral like Alex from Target’s tweeted picture, but I certainly experienced my 5 minutes of Internet fame and wondered what it would be like to go viral.

How To Go Viral

SingleGrain.com has a great infographic that explains how you can create posts that will go viral. Of course, it doesn’t guarantee that following such methods will automatically make you go viral, but it definitely has some sound structure: 

Going Viral by SingleGrain

Going Viral by SingleGrain

This infographic is from just two years ago. And though its explanation of going viral is still very valid, 2014 has brought a wave of unexpected subjects going viral. (I would personally add Twitter to the mix of top sites to help your post go viral.) It’s all in the power of sharing. All it takes is a share here, and a share there, and if you believe in the 6 degrees of separation theory, then that’s how it goes viral. I mean, this whole Alex from Target thing is trending over voting, and that’s saying something. 

Why Things Go Viral

Why do we get excited over these trivial subjects versus important issues? Personally, I believe that we are constantly in search of escape. We are human beings, we are frail, we are shallow at times, and we want to be entertained. We want to make someone else the spectacle so that our lives can have a moment of taking the focus off ourselves and our problems. This is not the case or blanket answer/cause for everything and everyone, but it definitely plays a major role.

It’s like that saying: Any publicity is good publicity. Before, that mentality used to apply to only select individuals. But nowadays, in the social media world, it could possibly apply to YOU.

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As an author, I would love to go viral. To have that one blog post that transcends the ages and solves world hunger, homelessness, poverty, and bigotry. I’d love for people to buy my books and tell me I’m the sh*t. I want my Twitter following to blowup over night. I mean, I am nearing 7k, and that’s from like 2 years of hard work, building my following organically. But the chances of all that happening just with one book, or one tweet, or one pin on Pinterest are slim to none.

Or are they?

15 Minutes Of Fame

Let’s think for a moment: Alex from Target is going to have his spot in the limelight, just like I had my HONY comment celebrity moment for a day. Yes, it’s possible that Alex may have some amazing hidden talent and he’ll find an agent and continue his fame. But honestly, I think this Twitter debut, once it’s died down, may be the only time in his life where he’ll be Internet famous. It’ll be some cool story he can tell his grandkids one day. And by that time, they’ll probably be asking: What the hell is Twitter?

The Chances Of Becoming Famous

If you study the greats–be they musicians, artists, writers, professional athletes, whatever–their common thread is that the whole overnight success thing took years. It’s very, very rare to become famous in an instant. In fact, you can watch this fun video from BuzzFeed that shares some stats on the chances of becoming famous:

Is Overnight Fame Lasting?

Thanks to social media, some people’s chances of becoming famous, even for a moment, have gone way up. But overall, to achieve lasting fame–or better yet–to have a lasting, positive impact on society, it’s going to take some time. Those who put in the time, those who are consistent, are those who will be successful in their endeavors. In reality, the true overnight success thing is the result of years of hard work and consistency. 

“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.”
Anthony Robbins

“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals.”
Jim Rohn

“Perfection of effort is not required, by the way. It is the consistency of attempting to work these tools that brings the progress. It’s like anything else. If I want to tone muscle, lifting a ten-pound weight a few times every day will move me toward my goal much quicker than hoisting a fifty-pound barbell once a week. Yes, it really is true: ‘Slow and steady wins the race.’ Just try a little, every day. You’ll see.”
Holly Mosier

“Success is an outcome of conscious choices pursued consistently and tirelessly.”
Vishwas Chavan

Now What?

Well… the best conclusion I have come to regarding all this is more realistic than ignorantly optimistic. If your aim is to have a career in which you become well-known through your work, etc., then consistency and commitment are the answers for you. That’s it; that’s the “magical formula” and it’s one of the hardest things one could ever do.

However, if that is not your aim, then just take a page from the handbook of Alex from Target: be reasonably attractive, work at Target, get some chick to take your picture and tweet it, then you can start trending on the Internet.

What do you think? Are you the next Alex from Target or are you thinking more long term? Leave a comment!

Monday Motivation: Read This Cool Stuff V

(As previously seen on the HelaWrite blog.)

Happy Monday, readers! To start off a new week, here are three great articles to get you motivated. Enjoy!

1. Clicks on Pinterest Generate 4X More Revenue Than Twitter [Infographic] by Pamela Vaughn at HubSpot

There’s not a whole lot to read here, which is a good thing. Most of the post includes an infographic that shows just how Pinterest is able to live up to the claim in the title of the blog post. I’ve personally been investigating the power of Pinterest this year and use my account for more than building my never-to-be-bought-dream-wardrobe. (Though, I might need an intervention…)

2. What Works For Me On Twitter by Rochelle Moulton

This was a great find. I can’t remember the exact events that led me to this post, but the destination was gold. Moulton doesn’t divulge every Twitter secret, but she certainly gives some great tips that can help any Twitter novice build their following in no time.

3. 4 Ways to Boost Your Social Media Marketing for Less than $1 Per Day by Jason Parks on JeffBullas.com

Before I read this, I was extremely skeptical of spending ANY money to boost tweets on Twitter and posts on Facebook. But the way the article breaks it up into small amounts of change–well, now I’m thinking I may try it out this year to see what happens. The other platforms mentioned–YouTube and Instagram–are not my main methods of marketing myself as an author and/or business person. But, if that’s “your thing,” the article provides some great tips.

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Wishing you all a very happy and productive week. And remember: if you’re in need of an editor/writer, send me a message!

Monday Motivation: Read this Cool Stuff IV

(As previously seen on the HelaWrite blog.)

Happy Monday to all you readers!

I’m continuing the Monday Motivation series and have some great articles for you to read. They’re all brilliant! Take a break, grab a snack, and put everything on hold while you take a few minutes to read each one.

1. How to Sell Loads of Books by Russell Blake, Suspense Writer

This post is exactly what every aspiring and active writer needs to read. Even if you’re traditionally published, there’s so much to learn from it. Russell Blake shares his personal experience in regards to independently publishing his books. He doesn’t beat around the bush and is very honest. Though it’s a longer reader than most blog posts, it’s worth your time. I think I need to read it again myself. I’ve already sent it to all my clients and writer friends.

2. Top 10 WordPress Plugins That You Need To Be Using In 2014 by Jeff Bullas

I love Jeff Bullas’s blog! This is yet another great post on his site, written by Mr. Bullas himself. Since I do all my own IT and design my websites and blogs by myself, I am always on the lookout for advice about everything techy–specifically advice that will make my life easier and my lack of tech skills almost unnoticeable. Read this post to learn more about WordPress plugins that will help your WordPress site or blog get to the next level.

3. 25 Ways to Marketing Your Business for Free by Marlee Ward

Though I’d prefer the title to read: 25 Ways to [Market] Your Business for [Nearly] Free, I’m not going to be overly picky. The author admits up front that some of the methods she writes about are not necessarily “free,” especially in regards to spending time on said methods. And we all know that time=money. However, the tips and examples she gives in the post are very creative, cost-effective, and just plain do-able. Read the article to get some ideas as you tweak your marketing/PR plan for this quarter.

I hope you find these articles as useful as I. Keep pressing on towards those goals and you’ll see them accomplished! And go ahead–treat yourself to that 3rd cup of coffee this afternoon. It’s Monday, so why not?

Monday Motivation: Read This Cool Stuff II

(As previously seen on the HelaWrite blog.)

It’s Monday! I have 3 great articles to share with you all. They’re all from HubSpot today and focus on marketing, blogging, and LinkedIn groups–all great stuff.

So grab a coffee, sit back, and take some time to read these articles and become motivated for another work week.

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Yummy coffee to start the day off right.

1. 10 Phenomenal Blogs in Totally Boring Industries by Ginny Soskey at HubSpot

Summary: The title pretty much says it all. 10 awesome blogs that are doing something right, despite their businesses’ reputation for being “boring.” A great read.

2. A Practical Guide to Planning a Successful Inbound Marketing Campaign by Meghan Keaney Anderson at HubSpot

Summary: Again, the title tells what this post is about. I’ve been using the term “Inbound Marketing” lately, so if you still don’t know what that means, then definitely take a look at this post. It lays everything out in simple terms.

3. 20 LinkedIn Groups Every Marketer Should Join by Brittany Leaning at HubSpot

Summary: Obviously, this post shows you great groups to join on LinkedIn. But don’t let the “Marketer” part deter you from reading this article. EVERY business owner and entrepreneur is a marketer in her or his own right. Marketing is for everyone, and it doesn’t hurt to join a group of experts who can share nuggets of wisdom with you–for free. I get more out of groups like these than any marketing class I ever took in college.

I hope you enjoy these articles and feel motivated to tackle some business this week. Here’s a great quote to leave you with some inspiration:

“Whatever the mind of man [and woman] can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” –Napoleon Hill

Monday Motivation: Read This Cool Stuff I

(As previously seen on the HelaWrite blog.)

It’s Monday, which means it’s the start of a new work week. For many, Mondays are probably the most blasé day of the week. Here are three posts to start your week off right and get you motivated for things you have to tackle.

I know...Mondays are hard. Cry Baby by Jan Tik via Flikr Creative Commons

I know…Mondays are hard.
Cry Baby by Jan Tik via Flikr Creative Commons

Punch those Monday Blues in the stomach and read this cool stuff:

1. 5 Tips for Content Marketing Success by Jeff Bullas

Synopsis: 5 Tips (obviously) that break down what it takes to create meaningful content and marketing that will transcend all the boring junk, and please current clients while attracting new ones.

2. The Top 75 Must-Read Online Marketing Blogs by Kristi Hines from Unbounce

Synopsis: More than a plethora of awesome blogs that will give your marketing resource (digital) library quite a boost.

3. 24 Invaluable Skills To Learn For Free Online This Year by Summer Anne Burton of Buzzfeed

Synopsis: Still trying to figure out your goals for the year? Check out this awesome list and get motivated!

Wishing you all a lovely week. Now, get out there and kick Monday’s ass!