Viral Content Can Be Tricky, But Awfully Rewarding

    November 3, 2011

Most, if not all content creators want their work to get noticed. Whether it’s on a viral basis or something more — full blown popularity — when it comes to the web content, having other people see and respond to your work is about all you can ask for. So what determines viral-worth content? What makes a picture/site page/video become a meme?

This very topic was discussed by Robert Knorpp at the BlogWorld expo, and thanks to his presentation, we learn one of the biggest keys has to do with inspiring others to react. To drive this point home, Knorpp used to examples: Rebecca Black and the Volkswagen/Darth Vader Super Bowl commercial. Both pieces of content inspired a great deal of reaction, granted, not all of it was positive, but the reaction was the key to these videos living a long life, at least in relation to an Internet lifespan.

From Knorpp’s perspective, the fact that both of these pieces inspired others to react was the key to their extended shelf life. Granted, a great deal of the reaction to Rebecca Black’s content was of the mocking variety, but the fact remains, such reactions are what directly led to her popularity.

It’s almost like the Marilyn Manson approach to publicity, that is, no pub is bad pub.

Of course, if the reaction concerns a product you are trying to sell, you don’t want the reaction to be in the vein of “this is the worst thing ever,” which comprised a great deal what Black’s videos had to face. With that in mind, the reaction of the Darth Vader/Volkswagen commercial is what web marketers should be shooting for, but then again, not everyone can get George Lucas’ approval to use his stuff in their commercials.

To Knorpp, the key isn’t necessarily good content, but content that inspires others to react in a creative manner. The key is balance. Don’t just make a Rebecca Black style of video to promote a widget being sold, because if people actively hate the item, it’s doubtful they’ll be spending much money on it. That being said, good content is a great starting point, just be aware of the reaction it will inspire.

Of course, because of the nature of viral popularity, the content creators have little to no control over the reaction they’ll be greeted with, so be aware of trends, both negative and positive, but at the same time, don’t just copy other people’s work. Create your own piece that’s worthy of becoming viral, or as Knorpp says, keep your audience in perspective when creating this type of content.

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