The Force behind Viral Power
June 10, 2013 - Marketing
A Viral Post can be Huge for BrandsGangnam style was the leading viral video last year and with it came massive views, downloads interviews, and all sorts of publicity. Then the Harlem shake came which also took over the internet as many rushed to upload their Harlem shake videos. These two are just an indication of the digital age we live in and today we will be looking at factors that affect how digital content moves and this includes articles, images, videos, and websites.
Harlem Shake vs. Gangnam StyleThe internet is an exciting place and the journey content takes as it spreads is quite interesting. The Harlem shake and Gangnam style are two perfect examples of the viral factor. By using content tracking technology, we were able to see social media conversations which contained specific URLs so as to analyze those who were talking about these two viral videos or memes. Content tracking technology analyses hubs and gateways, the discussion topics, key channels, and as well as where the discussion is taking place, or its geography. If for example you wanted to find out more about how Gangnam and Harlem became a global phenomenon, you would have to look at how they were shared on major networking sites such as Twitter. Things to look at include their lifespan, share ability, popularity, variation, globalism, and more. In other words, you are looking at things such as, the number of days which these videos were consecutively shared, their global appeal, reach, nationalities and hubs that spread the videos amongst others. With such analysis, we learned the following. [custom_frame_center]
Memes Come In Various ShapesThe Harlem shake is characterized by a horizontal dynamic. While there is the original Harlem shake, different variations proved to be better than its original video in both shares and views. On the other hand, Gangnam style had a vertical dynamic and its original video generates 10 many more shares and views than its variations.
The Meme’s Lifetime Depends on Its ShapeThe Harlem shake survived 29 consecutive days while Gangnam style had a lifetime of 172 days. What this shows is that, the vertical or top down shape has a longer lifetime than a meme with a bottom up or horizontal formation. The Power of Habits by Charles Duhigg explains this by saying that a movement begins due to social habits such as friendship as well as the close ties amongst acquaintances. The movement then grows because of a community’s habits and the weak ties which bind a clan and neighborhood. It finally endures because its leader gives followers new habits to create a sense of freshness and ownership. In regards to Gangnam style, this meme has a strong leader and Psy was easy to identify while the Harlem shake was more distributed. It did not have true leadership or format guidance and this may be why it did not succeed as much. It failed to create a habit that would survive the community’s interest that was behind the meme.
Memes Often Spread In WavesBoth memes were widely distributed but attention fluctuated day after day. This variation was arrived at after calculating the deviation from daily sharing. Usually, all meme lose interest and value as the days go by. However, popularity could spread due to various waves like when Britney Spears learned Gangnam style on the Ellen show and Miami Heat’s Harlem shake video. Both videos were led by an authority and while they will both command massive attention on their first days, this will continue to recede over time. Psy was unknown to the western world and Gangnam style travelled slower to achieve attention. This travel brought a massive following and enabled it to sustain itself for six months on its own.
Memes are Driven by Small CommunitiesA cool 14% of those who shared the Gangnam style passed it on or took it from someone else while with the Harlem shake, connected sharers rose to 17% of the overall number of users. Influencers therefore account for a very small percentage to a memes spread. In other words, only 1% of the Harlem shake shares were directly connected to its influencer while with Gangnam style, about 5% was connected to Psy.
Memes are GlobalWhile both memes were indeed global, Gangnam style outdid the Harlem shake with global reach. What started in Korea ended up spreading across the globe even while most viewers could not understand the lyrics? The Harlem shake was more localized and specific culturally. A full 49% of the Miami Heat Harlem shake views were from the US.
Popularity and Share Ability Are Two Different FactorsJust because a viral video is popular does not mean that it is more shareable and vice versa, though the Harlem shake was three times more shareable, it was almost five times less popular when it came to sharing from unique users.
Memes Need BalanceGangnam style was accessible due to mainstream sources and this made it gain low share ability due to social inflation. On the other hand, the Harlem shake was inaccessible because it was driven by smaller communities. It was however more shareable. Striking a balance between popularity and share ability would have benefitted the Harlem shake.
What Have We Learnt?The variations of the meme matter most. Memes which rise top down remain stronger for longer while those that burst out like the Harlem shake wear out fast. This is because it spreads widely and endures with the help of a focal point. Plan your viral model suitably.