How Spreadable Is Your Viral?

There's a growing movement among people who think about and deal with pass-along content to abandon the term "viral" and start calling things "spreadable" instead. The argument in favor of the latter was first articulated by Henry Jenkins in his eight-part blog post a year ago and has since evolved through conference chats and discussions on blogs by Mike Arauz, Sam Ford, Faris Yakob and many others. This 70-slide deck is a nice, even if a bit overwhelming, summary; Sam has also laid out the main principles of spreadability and how they apply to marketing in a Fast Company article.

In this debate, I have found myself in a position of the guy whose job is to make sure the baby doesn't tumble on the floor as the bathwater is being thrown out. To this end, I've just posted a piece on Forbes Marketshare blog where I'm trying to do a couple of things. One is to recognize that the debate is much more than a case of academic nitpicking of little consequence to practitioners. The other is to show that there's mileage left in "viral" even if the term has long lost its original meaning.

I'm also happy I managed to sneak in not one but two references to 24.  All this and more in The Spreadable War on Viral Media.

1 comment:

  1. Ilya, better late than never in responding to your thoughts here. No arguments from me: there are times when the "viral" metaphor fits quite well, and we need to be precise with our language to explain the difference between this and the 95% or more of other things called "viral" when they are not. But, to your point, as we say "stop saying viral," we don't want to apply that to issues that apply to the original Hotmail example, cases where marketing messages really do tag along, somewhat unnoticed, or are spread without the active work of the audience. Let's connect soon to talk about how this might tie back into our discussions about how "spreadable media" applies to advertising vs. public relations somewhat differently and the affect these discussions might have on marketing strategy and tactics...


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