Here on the left is a portrait I've made of kind-hearted senior citizen Karen Klein. She's been hounded every day by a bunch of bratty kids. When a concerned citizen uploaded videos of the abuse to YouTube and Reddit got hold of it, the internet went nuts.
When Google Plus users saw that their hero George Takei wasn't yet on board, they hounded him on Twitter with requests to join us. Today he joined us. Tonight I want to talk about what happens when the internet goes nuts and how great good can come of it.
What is it that grabs people's attention and gets things going viral? I pointed out in my last post that it's got to be something that hits at a visceral level, that gets a gut-reaction that demands an immediate response. It's usually something that you can relate to because you've had a similiar experience or know someone else who went through that. Universal themes and nuanced layers of meaning allow people to create their own narrative and apply the story to themselves. That's when things go viral.
Karen Klein, the bus monitor who was verbally abused in Greece, N.Y. by the group of 12- to 15-year-olds she was supervising as a bus monitor in Greece, New York, is about to go on one fantastic holiday after Reddit user Max Sidorov of Toronto, Canada set up an indiegogo fundraiser in her name. It's already raised over $55,000.
How did this happen?
When it got to Reddit, the users decided something had to be done. This is Point X. Awesomeness builds exponentially from Point X. The fundraiser was launched and the money flowed in. Moved to tears by the stoic grandmother weathering the storm of abuse, people flocked to donate. When it came up on G+, people shared stories of their own experiences and reminisced about horrible experiences they had endured. Then they got their wallets out.
Getting to Point X is pretty hard and it's not predictable at all. I know several people who got together on Google Plus to raise money for cancer. One girl shaved her head for Locks of Love. Two men joined her, and they still struggled to meet the $5000 goal. Cancer is common, damn it! That money should have been raised. Did they go to Reddit? Ah... Point X starts at Viral Central and that is Reddit. See more of the story on Mashable.
It took a campaign by Star Trek fangirl Stephanie Van Pelt to get sci-fi favourite George Takei on board. She made a post yesterday to rally fans in the hope of getting a response from him. She coined the hashtag #TakeiTuesday and got it trending within a few hours. When Takei's Twitter stream started to fill he decided to take action. He made an announcement declaring that he would only post content if he could get 250,000 people to circle him, but after a reprimand from Captain Kirk himself, he caved in and posted a meme. His post got the maximum 500 replies in less than half an hour. However, since he's got his hands full with Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, it's unlikely that he'll be spending a lot of time on G+. The story has made MSNBC.
One thing I've been telling people who have a beef or want to get someone's attention is to hit them on Twitter. It usually works for me. It was when people hit George where he "lives" that he came out to play with us.
Getting things done
The difference between the two stories is that one was about a man trying to get the attention of many while the other was many trying to get the attention of one man. If you want to send something viral, put it up on Reddit. It helps if you're a regular user and engage with people there. I'm an occasional drop-in so I've never got anything viral there. YouTube is also good. Again, you need to engage. If you can get a few people sharing your video among themselves, it's more likely to take off. If you want to get the attention of a celebrity or a company, use Twitter or Facebook, wherever you can get hold of them. If they don't reply, get friends to hop in with you and sooner or later you'll get a response.