A lot of people would kill to know what the “secret formula” might be to going viral online. Countless articles and books have been written claiming to teach anyone how to create viral content that takes on a life of its own after it’s sent out into the online world.

In reality, nobody knows the secret formula. And that’s sort of the beauty of viral power online. Most things actually go viral by accident.

Viral phenomena are objects or patterns that are able to replicate themselves or convert other objects into copies of themselves when these objects are exposed to them. They get their name from the way that viruses propagate. This has become a common way to describe how thoughts, information, and trends move into and through a human population.The “viral media” is a common term called whose popularity has been fueled by the rapid rise of social network sites alongside declining advertising rates and an extremely fragmented audience for broadcast media. Different from the “spreadable media”, “viral media” uses viral metaphors of “infection” and “contamination”, which means that audiences play as passive carriers rather than an active role to “spread” contents. Memes are possibly the best-known example of informational viral patterns.

Definition of viral derived from science fiction “describing (generally bad) ideas that spread like germs.” That negative attitude to viral phenomena are supported by some scholars. “Ideas are transmitted, often without critical assessment, across a broad array of minds and this uncoordinated flow of information is associated with “bad ideas” or “ruinous fads and foolish fashions”. Douglas Rushkoff’s(Media Virus) defined viral media as Trojan horse: “People are duped into passing a hidden agenda while circulating compelling content.” The negative connotation of viral phenomena has not been rid of.

The way in which Viral Phenomenon spreads can linked back to the way Folk stories were spread throughout society. A folktale is a story or legend creating a part of an oral tradition. Folktales in general are passed down from one generation to another and often take on the characteristics of the time and place in which they are told. Folktales speak to universal and timeless themes, and help people make sense of their existence and deal with the society that they live in. For hundreds of years before the creation of the Internet, the only way for these stories to spread was through story telling from person to person, hence the phenomenon moved very slowly throughout society in comparison to today.

With the development and creation of the Internet, the ability for stories, pictures, videos and many other types of media spread at a faster rate in comparison to when the only way in which information was passed was either by word of mouth and in text. One of the first documented viral videos is “Numa Numa,” the webcam video of then-19-year-old Gary Brolsma singing and dancing to Romanian pop song “Dragostea Din Tei”.

Since 2005, as the Internet and social media developed, the number of viral media has also grown exponentially.

Social media are Internet-based software and interfaces that allow individuals to interact with one another, exchanging details about their lives such as biographical data, professional information, personal photos and up-to-the-minute thoughts. Social media originated as strictly a personal tool that people used to interact with friends and family but were later adopted by businesses that wanted to take advantage of a popular new communication method to reach out to customers, for example, by informing them of sales and offering them special coupons.

Social media plays a huge role in the spread of viral phenomena. Websites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Vine all play a large roll in the ability for viral trends to spread rapidly. This is due to the ability to share the image or video with ease. This in turn allows it to spread rapidly. “Viral media a term whose popularity has been fueled by the rapid rise of social network sites alongside declining advertising rates and an extremely fragmented audience for broadcast media.”  The help of social media has allowed images and videos to become ‘overnight’ sensations.

Everyone has a different opinion on what classifies as “viral.” Marketers tend to use it in a different way that regular folks do. While regular Internet users might describe a viral pieceof content to be something like the Gangnam Style music video, businessmen and marketers might call a simple infographic or discount a viral sensation if it gets shared automatically just a few times.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viral_phenomenon

http://webtrends.about.com/od/howtoguides/a/Viral-Online.htm

http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/the-science-of-emotions-and-virality-on-social-media/618358

http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog/customer-experiences-go-viral/

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