Jarter Jargon

The Anatomy of a Viral Sensation

Posted on: September 15, 2012

I’m sure by now you have heard the song “Gangnam Style” by South Korean pop sensation Psy.

If not, get out from under your rock.

Before we go any further, let me say that I have no idea what Psy is saying in “Gangnam Style,” but I do know that Gangnam-gu is one of the 25 gu (local government districts) which make up the city of Seoul, South Korea. It is one of the most affluent areas of Seoul and is located in the southeast of the city.

It’s also the newest craze to hit the internet. It’s catchy, it’s danceable, and the dance that accompanies it is easiest for the whitest, most inept dancers on the planet. I can’t dance to save my life, but I surely can cut the hell out of a rug dancing like I’m riding a horse. I can safely say I’ve never lassoed harder in my entire life. Maybe I can start up my rodeo career. Either way, how does a song garner 172,000,000 views in just two months? How does any video reach viral fame?

Viral marketing is a surefire way to get your message out to a hefty number of viewers (as seen by the hundreds of millions of views on many viral videos) in a very short amount of time.

According to marketing professors Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein,[9] to make viral marketing work, three basic criteria must be met, i.e., giving the right message to the right messengers in the right environment:

  • Messenger: Three specific types of messengers are required to ensure the transformation of an ordinary message into a viral one: market mavens, social hubs, and salespeople. Market mavens are individuals who are continuously ‘on the pulse’ of things (information specialists); they are usually among the first to get exposed to the message and who transmit it to their immediate social network. Social hubs are people with an exceptionally large number of social connections; they often know hundreds of different people and have the ability to serve as connectors or bridges between different subcultures. Salespeople might be needed who receive the message from the market maven, amplify it by making it more relevant and persuasive, and then transmit it to the social hub for further distribution. Market mavens may not be particularly convincing in transmitting the information.
  • Message: Only messages that are both memorable and sufficiently interesting to be passed on to others have the potential to spur a viral marketing phenomenon. Making a message more memorable and interesting or simply more infectious, is often not a matter of major changes but minor adjustments.
  • Environment: The environment is crucial in the rise of successful viral marketing – small changes in the environment lead to huge results, and people are much more sensitive to environment. The timing and context of the campaign launch must be right.

With the ever-expanding social media market, it is prime real estate for marketers to push their message to millions of people worldwide in real time. It doesn’t have to be a hit song. It doesn’t have to be a video of your cute cat. It can be whatever you want the message to be, but without the right message, in the right channel, getting to the right people, well, you’re just as lost as I am with Psy’s lyrics.

So get out there, put on your rodeo dancing shoes, and put the world’s market to use. In the mean time, brush up on your galloping and lassoing skills.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Twitter Updates

%d bloggers like this: