Here’s recent proof that an intriguing image, idea, vignette or very short story spreads ever faster these days – especially if it evokes a strong emotional response.
The emotional cues most likely to elicit a pass-along reaction are curiosity, humor, surprise, “ahhhh” (the “Isn’t this cute” factor), horror, disgust and inspiration or beauty tagging along at the end.
The first four minutes of “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” were viewed more than one million times in just two weeks on YouTube – so, of course, Apple and others jumped on board. Since you’ve probably seen the Borat trailer video by now you know that it used several of the emotional cues.
Yet the trailer for “Snakes on a Plane” had buzz too and look how that fizzled because the word of mouth goes just as fast, if not faster, for bad news.
Nowadays who knows where viral marketing ends and social media marketing begins but clearly online social networks (especially those serving fervent niches) will only increase in cultural, financial and political influence.
One remarkable institution in our western culture that’s continuing re-inventing itself to serve a wide swath of people is the public library. Online and in person, I predict librarians will continue to play key roles in serving and participating in those social networks. That’s one of the reasons I’m honored to speak at the Canadian Library Association, along with Linda Duxbury and under the innovative presidency of Linda Cook.
(Bet there are few other places where Borat and librarians are mentioned in the same post.)