Did I Ever Tell You the Time I Made Something Go Viral?
Melancholy strikes everyone one every now and then. When it hits, I like to think back at some of the more extraordinary times of my life to lift my spirits. Before YouTube was huge and becoming viral required getting a few extra kills on Fortnight, you needed something cool that really spoke to the masses if you wanted big exposure.
The year was 2009, and I was working at Argonne National Laboratory as a media relations specialist. I received a phone call from a very excited scientist named Igor Aronson who told me I had to see this amazing experiment.
Quite by accident, they discovered nickel particles formed snakes and acted nearly lifelike when placed into a specially configured magnetic field. I looked in this beaker and watched a real-life version of slither.io. The particles created snakes that “swam” around the solution picking up stray particles on the way and growing.
They had a paper on the phenomenon being published in a week or so, but I knew if I wanted to get major exposure, I could offer it up as an exclusive to be published the second my press release went out before anyone else got it.
I had met Wired.com editor Betsy Mason six months before at a conference at Stanford. She gave a talk about how to catch an editor’s attention, so I emailed her with the subject “sharks with laser beams” because she had made a joke about it during her presentation.
It got her attention. It wasn’t too long after that I received a phone call from her. She was actually in the area doing a story on something at the nearby Fermi Lab but didn’t think she’d have time to stop by. I told her that whatever they have going on there wasn’t nearly as cool, so save an hour or two for me.
I met her and a reporter the next day and escorted them to this little non-descript lab. I could practically feel their eyes rolling as they walked in, but the second they met the effervescent Igor and saw the snakes in action they were hooked.
Their eyes lit up and they took pictures, asked for videos, did interviews and I sat back happy as a clam. Getting a story on Wired.com was a major win, but the real excitement just started.
Once the article was published and the press release went out, everyone was interested. The Wired.com story received over a million views and was featured on Yahoo News and other sites. Countless reporters called asking for interviews and many other places printed the press release. For a short while, Igor was a slight celebrity.
It was one of the proudest moments of my professional life. The news cycle is fast and in a week or so the phone calls stopped coming and everyone had moved on to the next big thing.
These days views for popular videos and such can get into the 10s of millions in just a day. Social media can catapult a person or group to Internet stardom and push them into obscurity just as fast.
Despite all the craziness around tide pods, Jenner lips and Fortnight, the real concept of going viral hasn’t changed. It’s all about giving the public something interesting to see or read.
You may not end up on the front page of The New York Times or monetize for YouTube, but an effective social media management campaign can earn you more customers and get traffic to your site.
Contact us today and see about becoming the next big thing in your area.