BP Blog

How To Go Viral: A Theoretical Look At Breaking The Internet

Kim Kardashian once unsuccessfully attempted to perform an incredible feat: she tried to break the internet.

Thankfully, the worldwide web didn't suffer many injuries and didn't even go on the 15-day disabled list. Humanity withstood the brunt of Kim's stunt, responding to her innovative wineglass table photos with various comments, blogs, tirades, and memes; however, such responses only reminded the unlucky few of us (who didn't care) how caught-up in the Ether of Unimportant Problems much of society is. Despite failing to "Break the Internet," Kim did manage to--once again--seize instant, irrelevant fame.  

It is well know that anything Kim K does immediately becomes one of the hottest viral trends on the web. Whether our good friend Mrs. Kardashian's fame is due to, well, her being famous or because she and Nudity have maintained a strong, healthy relationship (a relationship, we can all admit, that has lasted longer than any of her actual human relationships--We're rooting for you, Kanye!) doesn't really matter. The reality of the situation is that "going viral" isn't a big deal for some celebrities. 

But what about the rest of us? I'm guessing the majority of people who have their personal lives viciously dissected by the fleet of bloodthirsty piranhas (bloggers, talk show hosts, tabloid writers, invasive reporters) get sick of certain aspects of the whole "being famous" gig. What I'm getting at is this: what if us lowly, common folk had the entire galaxy of social media parasitically sucking our thumbs and watching our videos regardless of content? I'm not taking credit away from those who make it on World Star Hip-Hop and get their 15 minutes. I also can't detract from people like Nancy and Pete Frates who turned the Ice Bucket Challenge into one of the greatest and longest lasting viral sensations ever while meaning to do so! Often times, however, us lowly commoners taste instant--but ephemeral--fame by accident. We can't all be like MarShawn Lynch and get in front of mic, state: "Y'all know why I'm here," drop the mic and be all over social media. Granted, not many of us bulldoze All-Pro NFL linebackers, juke out star cornerbacks, and fall backwards into opponents' end zones to an earthquake of thunderous cheers and a Seattle-scale downpour of delectable Skittles. 

Let's get back to the initial dilemma. If you want to go viral, break the internet, and catch your fleeting glimpse of fame, how do you do so without already being famous? 

Personally, I'm encountering this issue at this very minute. In one of my courses, my professor is challenging the class to "Go Viral." That's it. No instructions; nothing. Done. MarShawn Lynch mic drop. The best part is that I'm not joking. For my Social Media Marketing class, the students are split into groups and are faced with a seemingly impossible challenge: make a video go viral. Essentially, we have to tap into the mysterious voodoo of those magical beings who go from zero to hero over the course of six-second vine or failed social media challenge nomination. 

In life, we take a lot--and I mean, a LOT--of things for granted. I won't get into my list, because it is longer than the nerdiest kid's comprehensive history exam study guide. However, one fact you won't find scribbled into the aforementioned notes is this one: In the Information Age/Social Media Age, we take instantaneous popularity and 'fame' for granted. We don't realize how difficult it is to penetrate the force field of Viral Popularity. So, for all intensive purposes, I figured it wouldn't be a bad idea to start the conversation. At the end of the day, I think I'll pass the class without my pretty face going viral; however, that wouldn't hurt, would it? I'll take your silence as a NO, and the slap in the face Karma's sending me right now for sounding like a pompous sh*t as a YES. Call it even. 

And now, the moment we've all been waiting for. My personal advice of how to become an internet/social media sensation. Please, Please, Please. Don't take the next paragraphs too seriously. I'm just stating the obvious, as well as the what obviously not to-do.  

I hate to say it, but making a really offensively funny video always seems like a safe bet when it comes to making it big. We're talking street fights, childishly lashing out at someone in public, or doing things in public that just aren't OK. Don't blame me if you don't get hired for that big job you want later in life; do give me credit, however, if the next viral video of a bus driver clocking a passenger turns out to be your handiwork. By no means am I condoning such behavior, but if you have the chance to subtly slide that iPhone out whilst riding the T and an absolutely uncalled for, ridiculous altercation takes place (where it looks like everyone will be safe in the end...hopefully), DO IT. Your username on Youtube could be instantly famous. 

Another great attention-getter is the friendly-yet-slightly-harmful prank. Think Vines here, for a minute. Camera on Subject A, the prankster. He grins slyly; mischievously. Camera moves to doorway. Above door is pulley system that activates when door is opened. Camera back on prankster. He yells, "Help!" Subject B, The Unlucky One, comes crashing through the door. Camera is back on door. The Unlucky One activates the pulley system! Crash/Splash; the prankster had filled a bucket full of some gross substance or medium-heavy object and Subject B is ridiculed on social media for about a week. Instant fame. 

Even if your video is stunningly inappropriate, wicked funny, a knee-slapper or tear-jerker, it's still pretty darn difficult to make it big. To finish off today's blog, let's examine a third path to success. The Really Serious, Emotionally Charged, Socially Conscious Video. Sing"In the Arms of an Angel" from those infamous Sarah McLachlan ASPCA commercials and you'll get the idea. You even get a free "beautiful" tote bag out of donating to her cause. If you have a cause that you are personally connected to in a similar way, make a video. You may be the next Sarah Mc Lachlan, and she's got great pipes, which is sweet.

I'm going to go and maybe, just maybe, heed my own advice and try to go viral. Taking under-the-table bets on my chances; don't tell anyone though.

A. T. Sadie