Posted by: alansylvestre | October 28, 2014

The “Virality” of online content

An infographic about how easy it is for content to spread through the Internet

An info graphic about how easy it is for content to spread through the Internet

In today’s journalism structure, it’s important to think about the “spread-ability” of your content. No longer do that days of simply putting your story in the paper exist. In today’s journalism industry, content has the capability to go viral in a matter of mere minutes, thanks to popular social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter.

In Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture, they discuss how easy content can spread throughout the Internet. They say,” …entertainment companies have long used models of overproduction and formatting to address this uncertainty.” (Jenkins, 197).

The concept of “virality” is one that entertainment industries have been interested in long before media companies. But, with the transformation media outlets are in as we speak, shifting to website first content, they must consider the ways in which their content if going to be used. YouTube trends manager Kevin Allocca did a Ted Talk in which he discussed how easy a video can go viral in today’s society.

The answer is that media companies are learning the concept of creating content for the web; designing with the idea of “spread-ability.” I’m employed with Oregon Public Broadcasting, and one of the things we discuss weekly is how our content is going to get used on the Internet. Because of the advent of the Internet, the question we think of on a daily basis is no longer, “How are we going to construct a story for our audience?” The question has become, “How are we going to interact with our audience?”

I think when journalists think with this mentality, they’re able to make more educated decisions about how to create stories for an online audience.


  1. In his TED Talk, Kevin Calloca concludes, “No one has to greenlight your idea, and we all now feel homeownership in our own pop culture” …. but two of his four examples of “viral” videos (“Friday,” “double rainbow”) only went viral after established tastemakers (Jimmy Kimmel et al.) publicized them. Isn’t this, in effect, the same as greenlighting? You still have to impress someone in the media establishment to get mass exposure. The only difference is instead of making a pitch, you must bear the cost and risk of production yourself, then have the finished result judged.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: