Digital Reviewer

#EmptyShelf 2016 #42: Viral Loop: The Power of Pass-it-On by @Penenberg (Hodder, 2009)

viral-loopSo, continuing my look at memes/virality/sharing for a new chapter for my PhD thesis-related publication, and I picked up a nice brightly coloured book that’s been on my shelf for quite some time – Adam L Penenberg’s Viral Loop from 2009 (hardback) 2010 (paperback).

It’s quite enjoyable reading a book which essentially contains quite a lot of futuristic predictions, which, 7 years later, we can see if some are coming to fruition! There’s less here about the virality of particular types of content, and more of a focus on businesses such as YouTube, Google, Facebook and – yes – MySpace – which have used a viral business model to reach their tipping point, at which they are virtually unassailable. As the introduction indicates:

The trick is they created something people really want, so much so that their customers happily spread their product for them through their own social networks of friends, family, colleagues and peers.

They are part of a ‘viral expansion loop’ – as each new user begets more new users (infinitely?), with the notion that nothing can truly go viral unless it’s something that is actually good – and that by using a product, users are giving an implicit testimonial as to use – and those that we know offer a more credible testimonial than those that we know! The book looks at the Obama campaign from 2008 – and many of its success factors, including the way that it promoted the creativity of its supporters (e.g. by sharing a supporter-created video that then gains authority/traction). Viral schemes are a particularly natural place for non-profit organisations to find themselves working within – dependent upon a compelling message and upon well planned ‘hooks’.

There’s many very interesting stories in this book, including looks both backwards and forwards, seeing how a number of companies emerged almost as a side-product of something else, and a clear indication of the passion, commitment, risk-taking and preparedness to fail that many of those now household names started out as – only eBay made money from the start – the rest all had to run huge investor losses until they started making $$.


#DigitalParenting: BBC Drama ‘Picture of Innocence’

Moving On‘ is a series of BBC dramas about how to ‘move on’ and pass turning points in life. This episode, named ‘Picture of Innocence’:

Overall, the story seemed well handled, the mum keen to support her daughter – and in some ways demonstrated just how much what happens now with technology, has always happened – and as with any other form of parenting, requires time, conversation, and support.

This episode is only the BBC iPlayer until Friday, but it would be well worth parents/teenagers watching it together, and discussing what they might do if caught in the same situation, and what they could do now to ensure that they are not in the same situation.

‘Conversation, conversation, conversation’ is what I entitled one chapter of Raising Children in a Digital Age, and I think really is at the core of all progress made in having a more positive life – online and offline!


Social Media #RoyalWedding #RW2011

When William’s parents married in 1981, there were around 3,500 in St Paul’s Cathedral, and it is estimated that around 750 million people watched on TV (I was 6, and most of the people from our (breathren) church watched it around someone else’s house).

So, in the age of social media, how many are going to be engaging with social media. As of writing this (Thursday afternoon), #RoyalWedding and ‘William & Kate’ have been trending (amongst the top 10 mentioned topics) all day, and as I cycled past Westminster Abbey this morning, I could check in on Foursquare/send a photo of the chaos outside… and I won’t be the only one. Billions are likely to be using all styles of Social Media to talk about the Royal Wedding (whether in positive or negative terminology), and Greenlight have produced the following inforgraphic, demonstrating that even last week, the wedding was mentioned every 10 seconds:


The Royal Household have been keen to engage with Social Media (it would be interesting to know where the push for this came from, the marketing team, or the couple themselves), for a wedding which clearly is of interest across the world (if you believe eveything you see, of more interest for those outside the UK!). So, what are some of the ways that social media are being used:

  1. On Facebook join over 380,000 fans  The British Monarchy Facebook Page, indicate whether you’re “attending” the event , or sign one of the online Wedding Books (‘The People’s Wedding Book), or, along with nearly 70,000 others, add your name to the The Wedding Book App to wish them a happy marriage.
  2. On Twitter, follow @clarencehouse, @BBCroyalwedding and @ITNroyalwedding (or the unofficial @royalwedding)to keep up with updates (official and media). Check out the hashtags #royalwedding and #rw2011 to engage in conversations about the Royal Wedding.
  3. Read the Royal Wedding ‘Order of Service‘ from the PDF which has been made available (of course, amongst all the hype, William and Kate will make the same vows as any other marrying couple).
  4. Watch the Royal Channel Live Stream, accompanied by a live multi-media blog put together by St. James’s Palace, and even become one of the 52,000 subscribers to the Channel.
  5. View the royal wedding photos on The British Monarchy Flickr Page tagged rw2011, or the public content tagged the same.
  6. Donate money to the Royal Wedding Charity Fund (I wonder if that will stop them receiving strange gifts – such as Charles/Diana received a piece of toast, burnt in someone’s excitement… which was slop by the time it was opened!).

Whatever you think about the Royal Wedding (and most tweets/Facebook posts I’ve seen are along the lines are “wish them well, of course, but not that bothered personally”), it is definitely a fascinating case study in the use of social media… so, are the Royal Family seeking to use it to become “The People’s Monarchy” (the idea of ‘The People’s x’ started with ‘The People’s War’ in the Second World War’ (see the section ‘The Planning of the First Posters’ on my PhD), then there was ‘The People’s Princess’, now….

If you want to see the route in 3D from Google Earth (quite a good way to get a different perspective on London:

and if you’ve not seen this video by T-Mobile, you’ve missed out on a great piece of viral marketing!

I will probably sleep through the wedding itself, but no worries that I won’t see what’s happened – via the platforms above, via YouTube, via the rolling news stories online for the rest of the day!]

This post was first written for BigBible.


Tips & Tricks for Viral Videos (with YouTube)

What would you add/remove from this – I have a feeling that I want the ‘mechanics’ of YouTube separate… but we’ll see…


#getmehome: Social media and stranded travellers

“If the volcanic ash from Iceland had made its way across Europe five years ago, its effects would have been even more distressing for the thousands of people stranded far from home. Why? Because five years ago most people did not have access to the social-networking services which are helping some stranded travellers make their way home. …

But now they and many others have turned to the social networks to talk about their frustrations and then in many cases to act together to organise inventive ways of getting home. A Facebook group called Carpool Europe has been set up by the Swedish car-pool movement, and has lots of messages offering or seeking the chance to hitch a ride. The group appears mainly populated by Swedes, but another, called When Volcanoes Erupt, is also acting as a clearing house for travellers trying to get on the move, and there are focused communities like BBC Orkney’s Facebook wall; you can listen to the experience of one Radio Orkney listener trapped in Venice at the iPlayer. Other Facebook members are using the service in a less co-ordinated way to seek help from friends.”

Read the full article from Rory Cellan-Jones.