You may have seen in the news recently that Lake Superior State University recently added the term “viral” to their List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness.
You may have also noticed that every marketing agency with a live body in the office now claims to offer a service to produce or promote viral content.
Look it up in Wikipedia and they define viral as “The adjective or adverb viral and the noun virality may refer to any viral phenomenon, that is, an object or pattern that is able to induce some agents to replicate it, resulting in many copies being produced and spread around.”
However, how does someone outside of the “industry” define what viral means? Enter my two younger brothers:
Situation: They are sitting on the couch during the Christmas break watching a funny YouTube video.
Randy: “How did you find it?”
Mike: “It has 4 million views. You don’t find it; you hear about it.”
That discussion encapsulates what viral is all about. Once something is viral you don’t need to go looking for it, it finds you. Your friend might post it on Facebook. Perhaps you saw a tweet about it. Someone talks about it and then pulls out their smartphone to show you right there on the spot (a personal favorite of mine). That’s how good, bad, awesome or ugly something has to be.
How would you define viral to a non-techie?
Image by SanFranAnnie