Thursday night, Charlie Oliver, Served Fresh Media’s founder, moderated the NY Viral Media Meetup where the discussion of the day was “Deadly Outbreak: How Negative Viral Media Spreads and How to Reverse its Course.” Speakers included Reputation Changer president Michael Zammuto and “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” author Jonah Berger, but the most insight came from Reddit general manager Erik Martin.
Martin focused primarily on community and Reddit’s subcommunities, examining why things rise to prominence on Reddit, specifically noting that negative media seems to have a particularly strong effect when aimed at brands. The nature of the medium also affects virality: consider how Facebook and Twitter audiences continue to get older while Reddit’s is a hodgepodge where the emphasis and reward lies in surprise (the same underlying success of Chatroulette).
So when building a campaign, the most important thing to consider is already existing perceptions. The internet is both vast and chomping at the bit to devour the next campaign so mistakes often include focusing too heavily on just SEO and SEM instead of video content and strategy wholistically, as pointed out by Zammuto. Berger also also added that the science behind what motivates people to share relates back to that reward system, encouraging negativity to spread. He also noted that we are able to build word associations taking the audience on an exercise: “Peanut butter and…”; “Rum and…” have word associations. Just as we link Jelly and Coke to those examples, so do the minds of audiences make associations in media.