Saturday, March 8, 2014
Today marks to debut of Social Social’s first guest post. I’m fortunate to be able to offer you words of wisdom from the illustrious Judi Cutrone, senior social media strategist with The VIA Agency, here in Portland. I met Judi at last year’s Agents of Change conference and have had the great pleasure of working with her over the last few weeks on a project I am engaged with at VIA.
Most important, Judi has agreed to provide me with guest posts on a regular basis so you can look forward to hearing from her again soon. In the meantime, you can find Judi on Twitter at @judicutrone and please check out her fantastic post below.
When it comes up that I had a viral video in 2007, the first thing everyone wants to know is, “How many views did it get?” Even before they ask what the video actually is, they want to know how popular it was. Sometimes I think they’re using the number to vet me so they don’t have to get needlessly invested in my small talk. “Yeah, if it’s anything less than 2 million views, I am walking away from this conversation. I have better things to do. Charlie Bit My Finger is here and he’s not going to interview himself, you know."
It was less than 2 million views. But just barely. Wait, don’t go!
Here’s the part of the anecdote where I quickly interject, “But that was a lot of views in 2007.” And it’s true; in the summer of 2007, 2 million YouTube views was impressive. And it happened so fast! We got the idea at work on a lark. I emailed a guy for the original video file, I spent two minutes editing it with a song, I put it up on YouTube and I emailed every blogger I could think of who might be interested in seeing it. Some people posted it and then more people posted it and then Perez happened; he linked to the video on his site on a Sunday night and suddenly it was everywhere. From the beginning to the end, it took one week for the video to reach its full viral potential.
Our little video swept through the Internet and consumed everything in its path. For a few glorious days, it was everywhere- everywhere you looked, someone had linked to it (well, our video and that dramatic chipmunk, that damned chipmunk). It made the news in New Zealand. It reached late night television (okay, it was Last Call with Carson Daly during his creepy thin years but whatever, it counts!) It got so big that my father, who until now thought that anything with the word viral needed to be treated with prescription medication, began monitoring YouTube comments daily with glee (he quickly realized this was a huge mistake).
It was so widespread that it was actually emailed back to me and let me just go ahead and declare this right now without a shred of remaining self-respect; I have not walked down the aisle; I have not birthed children; and I have never cradled a dozing Corgis puppy in my arms but even if I did all of those things, nothing could possibly compare to the pure animal joy of opening an email from a distant relative that reads, “Check it out!” and in that email is a link to the video that you made yourself.
It’s like Christmas. Narcissist Christmas.
And then, it died. Of course it did. These little bursts of light aren’t meant to shine forever. We light the match, we hope someone doused the place in kerosene and then we stand back and warm our hands until the flames die down. I tucked away the mp3 of my little interview on NPR (nerd victory!) and went about my life.
The epilogue to this story is somewhat strange because there were ripple effects from the adventure that I just did not anticipate. Probably the most significant one for me personally was that I started to make the transition from copywriter to social media marketing. From writing taglines to writing a Twitter account for a spokesdog! Living the dream!
The other ripple is way more interesting; in 2008, my video was reborn. It crawled out of the ashes and found a second life; I named the phoenix Beyonce. Thanks to her, I now cannot attend a wedding and hear this song without getting pulled out onto the dance floor, most often by my father, who will still tell anyone willing to listen about his little viral fairy. Interestingly, he always mentions the view numbers right away. He doesn’t realize how slight they are now- he’s still pretty proud of them.
Photo Credit: Scott Willis
Social media has changed the way that many of us learn, purchase, interact and explore the world around us. And, things are just getting started. Social, Social is a place to discuss social media with people from all walks of life. No experts allowed.
Rob works as a digital marketing & public relations consultant to agencies, brands, and individuals. He has 20 years of marketing experience. He also currently serves in a volunteer capacity as director of pr/communications for TEDxDirigo. From 2005-2011, Rob served as director of social media & agency communications at The VIA Agency (Portland). Prior to VIA, Rob worked with several PR & advertising agencies in London & Boston. He is a graduate of The University of Vermont (UVM) and a Maine transplant (2002).
Follow Rob on Twitter at @bobbbyg
His real-life interests include art, travel, writing, design, psychology, the beach, & exercise (grudgingly at times).