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!

You’re Doing it Wrong: Networking on Facebook

(As previously seen on the HelaWrite blog.)

It’s Friday! Awesome! Today, let’s look at networking on Facebook. There are many things that annoy me about Facebook (thank goodness for the unfollow feature), but there are some specific networking faux pas that irk me the most. Let me break it down for you:

1. Friending (ya, that’s totally a word now) for the sole purpose of selling your crap.

-Friending is one thing; networking is another. Networking still involves building a relationship, just like friending does. However, with networking, it’s not pure sales–at least, not right away. In networking, making the connection first is important. If someone doesn’t know you yet, why would they want to buy your stuff? Gimmicks of days past just don’t work anymore. Consumers want to know you first before they invest in your product.

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2. And if someone does accept your friend request for the purpose of marketing: Posting your sales pitch to someone’s Facebook timeline. NO!

-This actually has happened to me before. Not often, but it does happen. I accepted a friend request from a fellow writer, in order to connect, and he posted his book stuff on my timeline as soon as I confirmed the request! What did I do? I hid the post right away and unfollowed him (but still kept the connection). An action like that is like going on a blind date and then proposing at the end. Don’t. Do. It.

Annoying FB Girl

3. Sending unwarranted DMs (direct messages) on Facebook to someone’s personal account.

-Remember Mr. Real Estate from my “You’re Doing it Wrong: Potential Clients/Leads” post? He was on my “no-no” list with his methods of reaching out to potential leads–namely, my sister. After my sister unsubscribed to his newsletters, he not only reached out to her via e-mail, but ALSO sent her a DM–same message–on Facebook! Do not do that! It’s rude, it’s desperate, and it’s annoying.

DM Picard

So, what is it okay to do?

1. It’s okay, within reason, to reach out on a fan page.

-If you have something relevant to a fan page, go ahead and reach out. Sometimes, I receive messages on my fan page, asking for a reciprocal like. And you know what? If the message is nice, I usually return the favor. We’re all trying to build our networks, and if someone is supporting me, I’m happy to help.

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2. It’s okay to reach out in promo groups.

-Promo groups on Facebook are AWESOME. I am part of some great communities on FB, and the members are extremely supportive of one another. When you reach out or post a promotion, just make sure you are following the rules of each group. Some groups don’t care for self-promotion and others are cool with it. And, I’ll reiterate: READ THE GROUP RULES before proceeding with your promo campaign.

In Summary

Use common sense while networking on Facebook, and if you’re not sure, ask a friend (or e-mail me). Networking with others should be fun, helpful, and courteous. Don’t make yourself look like a social media ogre. It’s just not pretty. Done the right way, you’ll generate leads and build some important relationships for furthering your career.

Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to Facebook networking? Leave a comment!

 

You’re Doing it Wrong: Potential Clients/Leads

(As previously seen on the HelaWrite blog.)

Last time I checked, there are still absolutes in this world. If I throw a rock at your head, it’s not a feather pillow just because you call it so. And, guess what? Your head will hurt, unless you’re completely numb or drugged, etc. I know that’s an extreme (and violent) example, but this world is so full of opinions and methods that are…well, wrong. The world is also full of opinions and methods that are right—very right.

Therefore, I’ve created a series titled: “You’re Doing it Wrong.” This series is not meant to degrade any one person or any one practice, but to simply shed some light on many wrongdoings in “work world.” However, be warned: I can get pretty sassy. (Perhaps you have already read my Twitter post in this series.)

Today’s topic? The wrong way to pursue potential leads/clients.

My sister bought a house this year—yay for her!—and while she was looking, she subscribed to a few local real estate e-newsletters and such, in order to better educate herself about the current market. When she found an agent she liked and wanted to work with, she decided to let the agent take over, and unsubscribed from all the annoying real estate emails she was receiving way too often.

Rather than find a nice “unsubscribe confirmation” email in her inbox, she was surprised to find a somewhat desperate email about her action of unsubscribing from a particular firm. The guy just couldn’t let go. He even encouraged her to go and like his Facebook page and view his YouTube channel.

Look, I’m all for giving people great resources, but seriously?

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This is the WRONG way to attract potential clients/leads. It’s the old skool form of marketing—direct marketing, and specifically, a cold call (cold email, in this case). I’ll tell you how to remedy this at the end of this post, but first, I’d like to share the actual email from Real Estate Man that was sent to my sister.

Take heed if you have ever done something to the effect of the email below:

Dear [removed],

Thank U for your feedback. I am sorry to see you have chosen to unsubscribe from my exclusive home search website, but I just wanted to make sure I had every opportunity to help you since you subscribed recently with the info. submitted.

Its a very challenging market right now with limited inventory, rising prices & rising intereste rates. Its not a market for the “faint of heart.” Pls feel free to get back to me if I can be of service to you or someone near & dear to you as well in the not too distant future. Thanks so much again. Sincerely, [removed]

p.s. I also invite you to check out & “LIKE” my FB Biz page that is full of Great info., current community events & pertinent market data & info.

(I removed all his other PPS additions, because he added his social media links.)

My problems with this communication piece:

  • Not spelling out words. Be professional and craft a better form of communication, especially if you’re trying to attract clients.
  • Send an auto unsubscribe confirmation email and leave it at that. Asking for feedback as to why someone has unsubscribed from your materials is appropriate, but leave them alone after that.
  • A first time home buyer does not want to hear that the market is not for the “faint of heart.” If you’re a good real estate agent, I’ll hire you to do all the dirty work, and I need to know that you’re going to be my partner.
  • Check your grammar and sentence structure before sending out a “professional” communication. I know I’m picky because I’m a writer and editor—and trust me, I make mistakes, too—but I am always turned off by people who don’t invest in bettering their communication materials. If you’ve been selling houses for a while, I know you have enough money to hire a proofreader to catch glaring mistakes.
  • Don’t ask me to “like” you on Facebook or watch your videos, especially if A) I don’t want to receive your communications any more, and B) I don’t even know you yet. It’s like going on a blind date and then proposing. Things are moving a little too fast…buh-bye.

Overly Attached GF FB-email

I know there are worse emails out there, but this one struck a nerve with me. Plus, my sister later told me that he contacted her again! There comes a point where, if you reach out too often to people who clearly don’t want to use your services, your methods can actually become a form of harassment. You are in danger of becoming like those telemarketers who call people every night during dinner, asking if they want to save the earth by purchasing stuffed honey badgers. Just. Stop. (Not to mention that someone could very possibly take action against you and who has time for all that legal stuff?)

How could Mr. Real Estate have done things better?

  • For starters, he could have simply respected my sister’s choice to unsubscribe. Plain and simple. She’s probably not in his target market anyway, and focusing your efforts on leads like that is a waste of your time.

Grumpy Cat Unsubscribed

  • He could have used a proofreader or editor for his communication. Hell, just spelling out you rather than using U would have made a vast improvement.

Spell out you

  • Moving forward, he should reconsider his marketing efforts and brush up his knowledge on Inbound Marketing—marketing, basically, that brings leads and clients in to you rather than you figuring out how to reach every single market through cold calls, etc. Click HERE to read an article about defining Inbound Marketing, via HubSpot.

Inbound Baby

Takeaway: Don’t be that guy. Don’t be pushy while reaching out. Instead, read some marketing books and current articles, change your old ways of thinking when it comes to building your customer base, and for the love of everything that is professional—proofread your emails!

Stay tuned for next Friday’s “You’re Doing it Wrong” post.

BONUS: Awesome Marketing/Copywriting/Writing Blogs to help you become a better professional:

HubSpot

Copyblogger

Writer’s Digest

AWAI

Jeff Bullas

You’re Doing it Wrong: Twitter

(As previously seen on the HelaWrite blog.)

When I joined Twitter in 2009, I didn’t understand how to navigate it until I attended a Twitter webinar in 2012. By learning some tips and tricks, I was able to grow my following and begin to utilize Twitter as a valuable marketing and brand-building tool. There is incredible power to be harnessed through Twitter if you know what to do and what not to do. Let’s break things down.

1. Having a confusing Twitter bio.

Have you seen Twitter bios that are just plain confusing, especially the ones that make the handle’s owner seem like Superman? For example: Coffee aficionado, French fry king, innovator, master of sales, parachuter, and world peace wisher. I totally made that up, but I’ve seen many a Twitter bio looking like that. If it’s a personal handle, then do what you want. But if you’re trying to build a brand, sell a product, or increase your platform, your bio should be clear. 

Here’s mine:

Chief / Freelance Editor, , & Consultant / Creator of /

California

Notice I used #s so people looking for a writer, editor, or YA Fiction can easily find me in a search. I also included a URL shortlink to my Amazon Author Profile, so that people can click on it. My bio says what I do and what I’m about, giving people a pretty good idea of what they can expect if they follow me. If you have a website or blog, make sure you put the URL!

2. Tweeting a sales pitch at someone who does/doesn’t follow you.

Since I’ve grown my following on Twitter, this happens more often: Someone will tweet to me to either follow them back (they’ve followed me but I have yet to follow them) OR I follow someone and almost immediately, they tweet me their book, product…whatever. Talk about a turn off!

Engage with your audience first, before you try to sell them something. Tweeting a sales pitch to all your followers is okay; tweeting directly (unless warranted) is not okay.

3. Wearing out the same tweets.

I started using tweet automation this year and have come to love it. I’ve seen it used badly, and I’ve also seen it work really well. When tweets and URLs are varied, appropriate hashtags are used, and the content is interesting–that’s when automation is golden. When it’s the same tweet over and over again, day in and day out, it becomes spam-like and your followers will wonder if you have ANY interesting content.

If you’re going to use an automator, plan out your tweet content, make sure you shorten your URLs, and keep it interesting. There’s nothing more annoying than seeing the same “inspirational” quote over and over again. And don’t forget to actually interact with your followers (lists are very helpful).

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Hopefully you’ve found these examples helpful as you navigate the Twitterverse.  Are there other Twitter “no-nos” that bother you? Feel free to share by leaving a comment.

 

Monday Motivation: Read This Cool Stuff VI

Well, I’m not gonna lie: this Monday is particularly rough since I’m working early and got just a few hours of restless sleep last night. But sometimes, that’s how it goes. I could definitely use some motivation today to get me through the week, and I’m sure you’re in a similar boat. Therefore, I bring you three great articles to check out:

1. How to Write Better: 7 Simple Ways to Declutter Your Writing by Jodie Renner on The Write Life

This is a GREAT article. It explains how to simplify your writing in order to have a greater impact on readers. All the tips given are ones I stand by, especially as an editor. In fact, most, if not all, of the tips sound exactly like what I would tell my own clients. Even if you don’t think you’re struggling with consolidating your writing, give it a read. How to declutter your writing is never a bad thing to study, no matter your level of expertise on the matter.

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2. 45 Tweetable Quotes About Creativity to Inspire Your Next Big Idea by Lindsay Kolowich at HubSpot

The title says it all: quotes that will help inspire your next big idea. I often write down quotes I find inspirating in my journal, and when I have a blah kind of day, I look back over the quotes and feel much better after. Check out these quotes and see if you can find a few that speak to you.

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3. 5 Top Social Media Dashboard Tools to Manage Your Social Accounts by Pooja Lohana on JeffBullas.com

Again, it’s all in the title for this article. Not only does this post provide a list of the top 5 tools, but it also gives readers a breakdown of the benefits of using such tools. As your small business, freelancing gig, or author platform grows, I guarantee that you will get to a point where you need such tools. Social Media is everything nowadays, whether we like it or not. So, I highly recommend you checking out this article to see if any of these tools will work for you. 

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That’s all for now, folks. Hope you have a great week. And, remember: if you’re in need of an editor, make sure you contact me! 🙂