Tuesday, June 21, 2005

What makes a successful viral

[Tags: , ]. The Online Journalism Review provides a great analysis of the results of the Contagious Media Showdown, which saw the likes of Forget-Me-Not Panties, Crying While Eating, Blogebrity and Ringtone Dancer pick up awards for gaining the most exposure on a series of criteria.

The OJR argues that what set the sites apart was
  • humour
  • unreality ("is it fake?")
  • and "a dash of the provocative or controversial."
Jonah Peretti, founder of ContagiousMedia.org, the site behind the showdown, argues that a good viral is "provoking you to think, 'Is this real or is this right? Is this an outrage? Is this a good thing or a bad thing?' The best projects are a combination of being immediately accessible but are thought-provoking on a deeper level."

And Crying While Eating creators, Casimir Nozkowski and Daniel Engber, said they had "two principles: make people laugh and/or make people vaguely uncomfortable"

Other points to note include the lack of control over who your audience ends up being - the spoof "Black People Love Us" became popular on forums for white supremacists, "where people were upset about the white couple making friends with blacks", and how even unwieldy domain names can still be successful due to the "power of hyperlinks on sites, and links spread by e-mail and instant messaging"

Blog linking is seen as "helpful" but "overblown": for Panty Raiders "newspaper and radio reports from the UK, Eastern Europe and Japan brought the biggest influx of traffic."

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